Last week raised a few alarm bells, even if it was just the first week of the preseason. The first-team offense ran just six plays and punted twice, the second-team offense was held hostage by Paxton Lynch’s inability to play quarterback, and the defense looked like the proverbial swiss cheese for most of the game.
This time it’s different. We hope.
After a week of joint practices, the Bears are the opponent at Mile High, and the Broncos can either right the ship or cause more people to freak the fuck out on Twitter.
Either way, here’s three things to keep an eye on:
The First Team’s Ability to Sustain Drives
Again, it’s the preseason, but it would probably be a bit of a bad omen if Case Keenum’s unit couldn’t get one fucking first down. That’s all I ask for.
Things looked nice when Keenum hit DT for a five-yard gain to start the first drive, but then a penalty set them back and they never recovered.
I want to see guys you might not expect get a little run with the first unit: Royce Freeman, Jake Butt (in lieu of Heuerman), and Courtland Sutton (who caught just one dying duck from Lynch last week).
It’ll also be a test to see if they can run the ball against Danny Trevathan, who is ironically exactly the person that would help the Broncos defense the most right now. But stop longing for yesteryear and get on board with the 2018 Broncos.
Chad Kelly with the Second Team
The biggest winners of the Chad Kelly promotion (other than, ya know, the obvious) were the second-team receivers. After a week of getting thrown grounders, worm-burners, and hospital balls (poor Austin Traylor may never go across the middle again), they have a competent quarterback to throw them the ball.
Let’s take a look at how the second-team guys fared with Lynch: Courtland Sutton had one catch for three yards, River Cracraft had two catches for zero yards, and DaeSean Hamilton had zero catches for precisely zero yards. It should get better with Kelly at the helm.
Will Paxton Lynch poop his pants with the third teamers, or use it as motivation to get better and right the wrongs of the last two-plus years? I’d like to hope it’s the latter, but someone should probably search his gamertag and see how many hours of Madden 19 he’s put in this week, because that will probably give you the answer ahead of time.
Last week, the two most impressive runners were both rookies. Royce Freeman’s 23-yard burst for a touchdown was the most impressive play be either a first or second string Bronco, and Phillip Lindsay showed that he can be a receiving threat out of the backfield, catching three passes for 40 yards and a touchdown, looking rather shifty in the process.
The main battle to watch will be between Freeman and Devontae Booker for starting distinction. The Broncos’ clear bias towards the veteran is a little frustrating when the NFL has clearly proven that running back is the one position where experience matters the least. Hell, Ezekiel Elliott and Kareem Hunt both led the league in each of the last two seasons as rookies. It’s the lowest learning curve. If Freeman is better, play Freeman. And he looks better.
Lindsay, DeAngelo Henderson, and David Williams will all be battling it out for the last spot, assuming they go with three running backs. Henderson and Lindsay both look like they do roughly the same thing, so it’ll be worth watching to see if one of them can get something going on the ground in order to prove their worth as a more complete back. Henderson lit up the Bears on the ground a year ago, so maybe he can do it again.