It isn’t the prettiest football, but it’s Denver Broncos football, and it’s back.
I have been taking ‘notes’ on Twitter all night as the game has been going on, but here are my observations in more well-formed thoughts on each position for the Broncos in this pre-season opener.
Brock Osweiler looked really solid. He finished the game 15-20 with a touchdown pass. There were some mis-fires, there was a greedy throw or two, but for the most part, Osweiler was very good.
Something to keep in mind here — the way the Seattle defense is orchestrated and run, getting rid of the ball quickly is the only way to have any sort of success. Osweiler was probably getting a little bored with it (as we saw when he had Jordan Norwood wide open on a bootleg and opted for a deep ball to Cody Latimer, which fell incomplete), but he did what he was supposed to do.
Perhaps most impressive to me on Osweiler was the third down conversions (save for in the red zone) as well as his touchdown toss to Virgil Green, which was a beautifully thrown ball.
As the game wore along, Osweiler looked extremely comfortable. The same could not be said for Zac Dysert, who is currently listed as the #3 QB on the depth chart but it won’t last much longer. Dysert was absolutely lost. He either has a ton of work yet to be done, or he just had an off night. This was a night to forget for the former 7th round pick.
Trevor Siemian, the rookie, came into the game in the 4th quarter in relief of Dysert and started of completing five straight passes including a bomb to Bennie Fowler, who caught two passes on a nice drive that ended in a field goal. Siemian spins a nice ball, but also missed a wide open TE in the end zone and got rid of the ball well before he needed to. Overall, I was impressed by Siemian.
No running back was more impressive on the night than Ronnie Hillman, whose speed is going to be a huge weapon for the Broncos this season. Anyone who feels like the Broncos will possibly cut Hillman needs to get a clue. There is no back on the roster with the kind of speed he has, and he was stellar to the tune of 66 yards on 8 carries. He also caught an 11 yard pass.
August 14, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman (23) runs the ball against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half in a preseason NFL football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Montee Ball finished with just 26 yards on 8 carries, and no other Broncos running back really did anything of note. The backup offensive line couldn’t open any holes either, so that was part of the problem. It was an underwhelming night for the running backs which is surprising.
C.J. Anderson had only 3 carries on the night, and was hurt in the game. He tweeted out “I am ok” after the game, so we’ll take him at his word. He is a tough dude.
Both James Casey and Joe Don Duncan did well, I thought. Casey is a mauler and I think he’s going to be a huge weapon for the Broncos this season, especially without the ball in his hands.
I don’t know if Duncan did anything to separate himself tonight, but I would love to see them get him the ball a little bit more.
There were a lot of eyes on Cody Latimer tonight, and for good reason. He caught four passes and had another one that didn’t count, but this guy is the real deal, make no mistake about it. He’s got great hands and was creating separation much better than he showed an ability to do last year.
Bennie Fowler stole the show with a beautiful diving catch on Trevor Siemian’s deep ball that I mentioned before, and his lobby for a roster spot continues to gain traction.
Jordan Norwood showed an ability to get open in the slot, proving his quickness is back after major knee surgery.
Virgil Green was solid as a receiver, catching the game’s lone touchdown for the Broncos on a perfectly thrown ball from Brock Osweiler. He led the team in receptions, but got blown up on a couple of run block attempts. Normally a great run blocker, Green will have that cleaned up for regular season play.
Dominique Jones was wide open in the 4th quarter for a sure-fire touchdown, but Siemian heard footsteps and couldn’t get him the ball. He and Marcel Jansen each finished the game with a catch.
August 14, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Denver Broncos tight end Virgil Green (85) celebrates with offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo (74) after scoring a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half in a preseason NFL football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
In short here, the starting offensive line looked shaky early, but wound up playing incredibly well, especially opening up running lanes for Ronnie Hillman. Brock Osweiler also had ample time on some third down plays where the line made good adjustments to pick up blitzes from the Seahawks.
It was a good showing for the ‘new’ first unit.
The backups, in short, were terrible early on and couldn’t open up running lanes late. The Broncos would have turned the ball over to the Seahawks late if not for a gift-wrapped penalty on a Seahawks wide receiver converted defensive back.
It’s clear, at least from this performance, the coaching staff has made the right choices. The backup line could NOT handle Seattle rookie Frank Clark, who is talented, but apparently also unstoppable.
I love — LOVE — Kenny Anunike. The guy is simply disruptive almost on a play by play basis. He has a relentless motor and even if he doesn’t get a sack, he makes life for the quarterback very difficult. He finished this game with 6 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.
If he doesn’t make the roster, I will be unhappy.
There were plenty of defensive linemen who impressed me on the night, including new additions Vance Walker and Darius Kilgo. Walker showed some excellent burst from his defensive end position, and Kilgo finished off the game with a beautiful sack on the Seattle third string QB.
It was a ‘pick your poison’ night for Seattle coming from Denver’s pass rush. The first pass play of the game was a strip-sack from Von Miller, who is absolutely going to make it look easy this season. He’s simply too fast, too strong, and too good for NFL right tackles.
Those poor guys…
First round pick Shane Ray made a couple of nice plays, including bursting through the line and forcing a fumble on Seahawks running back Christine Michael.
Shaquil Barrett, who played more than any pass rusher on the team last pre-season (it felt like), was an absolute terror for the Seahawks in this game. If he wasn’t setting the edge, he was wreaking havoc for the quarterback with his top flight pass rushing skills.
As has always been the case, Barrett is simply a natural when it comes to bending around the edge and getting to the QB. The key for him is going to be contributing on special teams as well as positional versatility and his production against the run.
Gerald Rivers showed excellent pursuit on a fourth down play late in the game when the Seahawks QB rolled out, looked like he had room to run, and then all of a sudden the length of Rivers was all over him and he forced a strip sack.
There weren’t many plays in this game I can remember where Zaire Anderson wasn’t around the ball. I was shocked to see he finished with just one tackle.
Other than Corey Nelson, who had four tackles, nobody else from this unit really stood out to me. They had trouble covering screen passes late in the game which allowed Seattle to cut the lead from 9 to 2.
Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall did not play.
I was commenting during the game how Curtis Marsh was having a solid but quiet game, but it was pointed out to me that he had a bad play on special teams as well. Defensively, Marsh played a really solid game.
Bradley Roby looks like he’s taken the next step, but it’s still early to tell.
August 14, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael (33) runs the ball against the Denver Broncos during the first half in a preseason NFL football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Taurean Nixon, the rookie out of Tulane, got picked on a little bit. He finished the game with three tackles and a nice PBU in the end zone, but Seattle was going after him a bit and he had a costly illegal hands to the face penalty.
I was surprised we didn’t see more of an impact from Lorenzo Doss, but that’ll come with time.
Josh Bush had a fumble recovery on the aforementioned Gerald Rivers forced fumble, but for the most part, this game belonged to no one in particular.
Rookie Josh Furman had two tackles and a sack, and should get some more looks as a blitzed. He was extremely good at that while at Oklahoma State.
Darian Stewart played more than most of the veterans/starters, and finished with two tackles.
Barth and McManus combined for five field goals, including a 52-yard boot by McManus. This could be his job to lose. The kickoff coverage was putrid, the punt coverage was putrid, and both Solomon Patton and Jordan Norwood dropped punts.
The Broncos won 22-2o, so finding the positives is much, much easier.