Denver Broncos showed their potential in first preseason game

Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

The first preseason game is in the books for the Denver Broncos.

If there was ever a perfect script for the Denver Broncos to operate during the regular season it is exactly what happened in the game against the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday for preseason game number one. This is obviously preseason game number one; however, the team we saw is an indication of what they can potentially be if it all comes together. This is every team’s goal. For there to be a cohesive unit from start to finish.

From the start, the Broncos jumped out of the gate doing what should be their identity as a team. The running game is better with the addition of Javonte Williams and he was as good as advertised. There was balance, vision and toughness from the rookie in game one. Williams carried the load from the first drive and it set the tone for the entire game.

Whether it was Williams, Damarea Crockett, or Royce Freeman, the running game seemed engaged and ruthless. With no Melvin Gordon it was a great sign to see production from all parties in the backfield. If Denver stays true to their running game, then it’ll help them come postseason push time. Typically the best teams are successful running teams. Most importantly, the running game helps set up one of the biggest successes of this offense: play action.

Drew Lock is one of the better play action quarterbacks in the NFL in the tail half of last year and it showed in this game versus the Minnesota Vikings. Pat Shurmur’s offense did a great job focusing heavily on the running game to help set up Lock with comfortable throws in space. It also allows the team’s playmakers to find openings regularly.

Once Lock can set his feet and properly diagnose a read in play action, he is a great quarterback. Establishing a running game also helps better open chances for a big play to happen off play action. Since the Denver Broncos have plenty of weapons, Shurmur was creative to aim for the big play to KJ Hamler in quick strike fashion. The 80-yard bomb to Hamler was a true depiction of how special this offense can be when it is all clicking with all their playmakers at once.

Furthermore, Lock’s development as a quarterback showed in bunches Saturday in the Vikings game. Lock’s biggest emphasis is eliminating the turnovers and making better decisions. A key 3rd and 4 showed Lock look off his first and second read.

Lock would also stand tall in the pocket and deliver a pass to Jerry Jeudy who would do the rest after the catch. It’s one of the most monumental shifts for fans and media that confirmed or enlightened those to see a potential change in Lock’s development. When it all comes together for him, you see a lot of flashes of a franchise quarterback.

Two of the most impressive and underrated traits also continued to show in the game and that being avoiding sacks and hard count. In the past, it was freak plays where there was no protection or ball security causing him to land awkwardly, ultimately resulting in injury. Both cases have helped him become one of the best in avoiding sacks.

Second, is the hard count. In the last half of the season in 2020 Lock did a tremendous job showing his growth in Shurmur’s offense by working the cadence in drawing multiple offside penalties. It was a tremendous day for Lock.

Lets not forget about Teddy Bridgwater either. Bridgwater showed he has capabilities to be the starter needs also. Even if both Lock and Bridgwater played against backups, they still passed the test. A true test for being named is passing that particular test. If they cannot do that, then they’re not the answer.

Bridgwater did have some check-downs, but he also showed decent playmaking and moving the ball that still kept the offense moving. If for some reason Lock is not starter, Bridgwater showed he’s qualified to win games if called upon.

The offensive line has gotten praise from Garett Bolles and Vic Fangio. Line under Mike Munchak has been a huge breath of fresh air for this team and rightfully deserves a contract extension. There were areas of spottiness at times, but depth on the offensive line was impressive in Saturday’s game.

In fact, Drew Lock, Teddy Bridgwater, and Brett Rypien were not even sacked in Saturday’s preseason game. This is a game where Bolles and Dalton Risner did not play. Right tackle Bobby Massie did a great job holding his own. The interior offensive line has a fascinating camp battle brewing with Netane Muti, Graham Glasgow, and Quinn Meinerz.

Despite the backups from Minnesota playing many of the snaps, it’s the same logic as a starter at quarterback. If you want to start, outplay people who you are supposed to. The Denver Broncos offensive line did just that. If this is a sign of things to come, then the Denver Broncos will be in good hands in the season.

Lastly is really the strength of this team. The defense. For as great as this defense is, you would be shocked to know they’ve struggled to create turnovers. Even though it was not “technically a turnover,” the defense drew a penalty in the end zone resulting in a safety.

The other was when rookie Pat Surtain showed incredible length, reach, and playmaking picking off a pass for a pick-six. This defense in the game even didn’t have their top pass rush duo to play in the game: Bradley Chubb and Von Miller. The defensive linemen who were out: Shelby Harris, Dre’Mont Jones and Mike Purcell.

Other cornerbacks Ronald Darby, Bryce Callahan, and Kyle Fuller did not even play. The defense showed out their depth and who they can potentially be as a unit.

For any team there are going to be tough decisions. In Denver’s case the team will have a difficult month to figure out who stays and who goes. Trimming to the final roster is always hard, but with Denver it is a great problem to have.