Opinion Time: What positives/negatives did you see in the Broncos’ first preseason game?
Sentinel sports copy editor/designer
On the positive side, the Broncos’ first-team defense is really, really good.
Even with Von Miller, T.J. Ward and Todd Davis on the sideline, Denver forced Chicago QB Mike Glennon into a bad decision, which Chris Harris turned into a pick-6 and a quick 7-0 lead.
Some of the young players on the defensive side of the ball look to be keepers. Kasim Edebali looks to be a great complementary pass rusher opposite Miller until Shane Ray and Shaq Barrett return from injury.
Rookie free agent Jamal Carter was all over the field. Lorenzo Doss showed he has the chops to be the No. 4 cornerback in the No Fly Zone.
As for negatives, let’s just focus on the area the Broncos struggled with last season — running the ball and stopping the run.
Until rookie De’Angelo Henderson’s late 41-yard TD jaunt, the offensive line failed to open up many holes for the backs and if they did, the play was called back for holding.
On defense, the second- and third-team players had a hard time stopping the Bears’ running backs. Journeyman Benny Cunningham ran for 41 yards, rookie Tarik Cohen galloped for 37 yards and Ka’Deem Carey had 31 yards on four carries.
If Denver hopes to challenge the Raiders in the AFC West, they must stop the run to force teams to play into the teeth of the defense — a ferocious pass rush with the No Fly Zone behind them.
Sentinel sports editor
Oh, the joys of preseason football.
We now know that Chicago’s quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is the second coming of Tom Brady or maybe Aaron Rodgers.
Fickle NFL football fans are funny and easily fooled. Preseason can be as deceiving as a mother-in-law’s smile.
That said, Trubisky was impressive, even if he wasn’t facing Denver’s destructive first-team defense.
The one thing you want in preseason is to have good QB play. I wasn’t all that blown away by Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch.
Very few points and inept production on third downs is not good for an offense.
I’m more focused on the running game after the first game. This will be key to Denver’s success this year, even in Mike McCoy’s new offensive system.
There was good and bad in the game. Once again, the Broncos struggled in short-yardage situations, but the good was the debut of De’Angelo Henderson.
The sixth-round draft pick had a nice game against the Bears’ backups. He showed the kind of quickness, speed and explosiveness that could really help the Broncos.
A healthy C.J. Anderson is a necessity but Denver needs a stable of capable backs, and right now there are injury question marks with Devontae Booker and Jamaal Charles. The offensive line still has to show some major improvement, but with Henderson showing some legit potential, there’s a little optimism for Denver’s running game this year.
Sentinel sports reporter
I’m going to be hyper-focused on quarterbacks, because everyone already knows what Denver’s defense can bring.
On the positive side, Kyle Sloter looked like a capable practice squad quarterback, if not the third-string option should Chad Kelly head to the injured reserve list. The former University Northern Colorado athlete made some really nice throws when he sat in the pocket and made some pretty crazy throws when he had to run around.
He looked more poised than either of the QBs battling for the starting job. Sloter was a lot of fun to watched paired with fellow rookies De’Angelo Henderson and Isaiah McKenzie, both of whom made their cases for a spot in the 53-man roster.
McKenzie’s speed was on display when Sloter found him for a 47-yard touchdown pass and Henderson converted a third-and-forever run that got me out of my seat.
On the flip side of that, neither Paxton Lynch nor Trevor Siemian did anything to earn the starting quarterback job.
Siemian is what he is. He makes short, conservative throws and doesn’t handle the big moments well. The ceiling is low, but the floor is pretty high. Lynch still looks like a deer in the headlights, which is somewhat concerning at this point in his development.
One of those two will have to make a serious push to separate themselves, or the Broncos’ offense is doomed to another season with limited productivity. As good as the defense is, a poor offense will keep Denver’s record around .500. Lynch and Siemian need to show more this preseason to save the team from mediocrity.
Sentinel page designer
One of the biggest frustrations for a NFL coach has to be penalties.
New Broncos head coach Vance Joseph learned that right away Thursday when the team’s offense continually sputtered by going in the wrong direction. Denver committed 10 penalties (seven in the first half) for 76 yards. Here’s to hoping whatever Joseph said at halftime will stick the rest of the season.
Teams usually don’t win when they commit that many miscues, but Chris Harris and the Broncos’ defense did its part early and they didn’t have a turnover the entire game. Without several starters, it was nice to see Denver’s defense show signs of dominance.
The biggest positive may have been receiver Cody Latimer, who caught seven passes for 54 yards. The Broncos desperately need someone to separate from the pack as a No. 3 option for QBs Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch and Kyle Sloter.
If the Broncos can keep the offense moving, it’ll take pressure off the defense and should result in regular-season wins.