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Broncos Mtnman
08-23-2008, 10:37 PM
I know the Broncos still have one preseason game left to play, but that game is mostly for the benefit of second and third team players as they try to earn a spot on the team. Typically, game three of the preseason is the game where players who have established themselves as the starters get "real game" experience (or a reasonable facsimile). With this thought in mind, the jury might still be out on whether the 2008 Denver Broncos are ready to begin the season.

With the exception of the first drive, the first team offense appears ready to go. Jay Cutler (after a slow start) led the team to three scores on three possessions, with two touchdowns and a field goal. One of those drives was an extremely impressive 99 yard effort resulting in one of the two touchdowns scored. The other was an 80 yard, one play, drive that was aided by a 31 yard pass interference penalty on Brandon Marshall, and concluded with a 49 pass to that same Brandon Marshall.

For the preseason, Jay went 30 for 43 (69.8%), 352 yards, 3 touchdowns and ZERO interceptions. His QB rating is an extremely impressive 117.59.

The running game is improving, but still seems to struggle in short yardage situations, although Andre Hall might be answering that question, averaging 5.1 ypc in yesterday's tuneup game. Not to be forgotten, Selvin Young averaged 7.0 ypc in yesterday's game, which was a huge improvement over his 0.8 ypc in the Houston game.

The defense is still a question mark in my mind. While the run defense seems to be making strides, there are still too many missed tackles. The front four still isn't providing consistent pressure on the opposing team's quarterback and the nickel package (due in part to that lack of pressure) is looking questionable.

Special teams looks ready for the season to begin. Prater made his only field goal attempt, as well as kicking off for touchbacks 4 out of 5 times. With one preseason game to go, he has made 7 of 9 field goal attempts and every one of his kickoffs were inside the 5-yard-line with 8 of his 16 kickoffs going for touchbacks.

And regardless of who earns the punting job (the Broncos punted twice for a 50 yard average last night), that aspect of the game looks better than even the mighty Todd (someone call me a cab) Sauerbrun.

This week's highs and lows......


HIGHS :2thumbs:

1 - Jay Cutler. After failing to complete 5 of his first 6 attempts, I didn't think he would make the list this week. As mentioned above, he led the team to two touchdowns and a field goal on three first half drives (his only playing time). He would finish 5 of his last 7 attempts after his slow start. I think the questions about Jay and his ability to lead this team appear to be answered.

2 - Running game. It looks like we are going to be using the running back by committee concept again this year. Selvin Young and Andre Hall were a very effective 1-2 punch, and Michael Pittman demonstrated that he still has the ability to pound out the hard yards. All of the running backs have great pass catching skills.

3 - Peyton Hillis. While the line score only shows him involved in 2 plays, he was instrumental in getting the Broncos out of their own endzone on a 3rd and 7 play, where he took a screen pass from Cutler for a 14 yard gain. He also did a great job of lead blocking when on the field. If he plays well in the finale next week, look for him to make a serious push for the starting job over Cecil Sapp.

4 - Matt Prater. As mentioned above, he kicked 4 of his 5 kickoffs for touchbacks. It's really refreshing to have a place kicker who can kick off. His leg is strong, very strong.

5 - Brandon Marshall. 2 catches for 71 yards and a touchdown. I hope we can make it through the Oakland and San Diego games while he's on his mandated vacation. I also hope he has really learned his lesson and behaves from now on. He is the real deal and the Broncos are dangerous when he plays.

6 - Red Zone. Not only in this game, but the whole preseason has shown that this year's team is going to be much improved in the red zone. They went 2/3 in the red zone - both of them touchdowns. The only failure was the second team on a failed 4 and goal from the 1.

7 - Third down conversions. The first team was 4 of 6 in this catagory. I'll take a 67% conversion rate in this area all day. And, as any Broncos fan is aware, this was one area of weakness last year.

8 - Run Defense. The Packers only netted 94 yards rushing for the game and the defense held them to a 2.9 yards per rushing play. Considering the fact that the Broncos were ranked near last in the league last season in this catagory, fans should be very encouraged with numbers like these.


LOWS :2thumbsdown:

1 - Missed tackles. As I mentioned above, this is an area of concern as the regular season gets started. The Broncos defense did nothing last night to calm those concerns.

2 - Pass defense. I know alot of Broncos fans will be ticked off if the defense improves in the area of run defense, but does it at the expense of the pass defense. Pass defense gave up an average of 6.4 yards per passing play. They also only managed ONE sack in the game. Once again, the front four seem to be struggling to provide any consistent pressure on the quarterback.

3 - Foxworth. While he is a part of the problem with the previously mentioned poor pass defense, individually, he just always seemed to be a step or more away from the play. The Broncos played alot of nickel defense yesterday, which meant Foxy was on the field alot with the first team. Personally, I think Karl Paymah just might push him out of a job.

4 - Return game. With the apparent elevation of Eddie Royal to starting WR, the team is once again looking for a punt and kickoff return game. There were muffed catches and return yards were modest at best. An 11 yard punt return in addition to 2 kickoff returns for an unimpressive 47 total yards. Royal is exciting, but have the Broncos shot themselves in the foot in this area of weakness from last season?

5 - Goal-to-go defense. The Packers were 2-of-2 (both touchdowns) in goal-to-go situations. For a defense looking to improve in the "points allowed" catagory, this wasn't a great performance.


That's it. One more fake game to go and then the real games begin. Is this year's version of the Denver Broncos ready to start the season? Well, ready or not, they have to be, because for the starters, the season is here!

omac
08-26-2008, 07:49 AM
Nice article, broncos_mtnman! :salute:

I'm satisfied that our 3 main weaknesses last season has been addressed: run defense, pass protection, and special teams (at least kickoffs and punts).

I'd take a weakness in pass defense over a weakness in rush defense; that described the Vikings last season, and they did okay mostly. We've been playing mostly vanilla, so maybe some of our blitz packages can mask our weakness in the pass rush. I'm confident our defense won't hemhorage points and clock like they did last season when they couldn't stop the run.

The pass protection ... not much else to say. Much, much improved from last season, and it shows with Jay having a lot of time to make throws, and he hasn't been sacked yet.

I like how Prater booms those kicks into the endzone; that will help mask our probable weakness in coverage.

We don't have to be a perfect team. We just have to manage our weaknesses (weak against pass is better than weak against run), and play to our strengths (offense).

LRtagger
08-26-2008, 11:54 AM
I am very very very very very happy that Ryan Harris seems to have improved 100%. He had some dumb penalties in the PS opener, but his pass blocking has been stellar. Having Kupes AND Harris both on the right side is a blessing.

CoachChaz
08-27-2008, 11:51 AM
Just out of curiosity...when has success in any specific area in the pre-season ever translated into success during the regular season?

Broncos Mtnman
08-27-2008, 01:20 PM
Just out of curiosity...when has success in any specific area in the pre-season ever translated into success during the regular season?

If you're talking about wins and losses, probably hardly ever (Indy has one of the worst preseason records in the NFL over the past several years).....

But, if you're talking about performance, I would say nearly always.

Just take a look at last year's defense. The problem against the run was evident and never got corrected in the preseason. As the regular season showed, it was a clear indication of the problem.

:coffee:

Watchthemiddle
08-27-2008, 01:30 PM
I am glad you mentioned Hillis. There was so much talk about him in camp, but he hasn't really done much in the games. That play the other night was clutch.

Lonestar
08-27-2008, 01:41 PM
If you're talking about wins and losses, probably hardly ever (Indy has one of the worst preseason records in the NFL over the past several years).....

But, if you're talking about performance, I would say nearly always.

Just take a look at last year's defense. The problem against the run was evident and never got corrected in the preseason. As the regular season showed, it was a clear indication of the problem.

:coffee:


great article overall let me rebut this last statement

But to be fair last year no one (read mikey) was happy with the Bates defense and frankly it did not improve all the much after he was scrapped..

I look at the preseason as pure vanilla and frankly while the offense looked pretty good when they start putting in different games pans each week can our rookies handle the constant changes and additions to the playbook..

I look for a lot of up and down games this year read inconsistent.

Until these rookies get some real game time the jury is still out.. Lots of potential but having two rookie OT and pretty much a rookie ORG on the OLINE.. lots of mistakes are going to happen.. IMO

Broncos Mtnman
08-27-2008, 01:41 PM
I am glad you mentioned Hillis. There was so much talk about him in camp, but he hasn't really done much in the games. That play the other night was clutch.

He has been very impressive in camp. I wouldn't be surprised to see him beat out Sapp.

Lonestar
08-27-2008, 01:43 PM
He has been very impressive in camp. I wouldn't be surprised to see him beat out Sapp.

now how hard should that be? unless he gets caught in the ladies room.. this is shue in

CoachChaz
08-27-2008, 02:24 PM
If you're talking about wins and losses, probably hardly ever (Indy has one of the worst preseason records in the NFL over the past several years).....

But, if you're talking about performance, I would say nearly always.

Just take a look at last year's defense. The problem against the run was evident and never got corrected in the preseason. As the regular season showed, it was a clear indication of the problem.

:coffee:

I'll buy that...but Houston, Dallas, Green bay and Arizona dont exactly possess the running games of KC, Oak, SD, Jax. Now fortunately for us, those should be the 7 toughest ground games, but it's not like NE, NO, Car, ATL, and TB couldnt run over us.

Our run defense better be better and the pass defense better be ready.

LRtagger
08-27-2008, 03:24 PM
I'll buy that...but Houston, Dallas, Green bay and Arizona dont exactly possess the running games of KC, Oak, SD, Jax. Now fortunately for us, those should be the 7 toughest ground games, but it's not like NE, NO, Car, ATL, and TB couldnt run over us.

Our run defense better be better and the pass defense better be ready.

Carolina definitely could. They will be a top 10 rushing team this season...maybe top 5.

omac
08-28-2008, 06:02 AM
I'll buy that...but Houston, Dallas, Green bay and Arizona dont exactly possess the running games of KC, Oak, SD, Jax. Now fortunately for us, those should be the 7 toughest ground games, but it's not like NE, NO, Car, ATL, and TB couldnt run over us.

Our run defense better be better and the pass defense better be ready.

I agree with that, but I think we'll get a break with KC. Their OL has looked awful, and LJ just doesn't look like his old self.

Out of all of those, I think the 2 teams that will really test our rushing defense will be Oakland and Carolina.

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