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Old 08-29-2012, 03:12 AM   #1
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Default What Have We Learned About this Team in the Preseason?

Most of the starters are done for the preseason. All that's left is the game of backups. We're probably not going to know much more after that game than we do now. So what exactly do we know? This is my take.

Offense-
QB- Elway took a big gamble signing Peyton Manning to a huge contract. He is who John Elway thought he was. How nice is it to see open receivers actually get the ball? Manning has single handedly changed the expectations and level of performance around Dove Valley. Osweiller should have plenty of time to develop. I'm not sure if the Broncos will keep Hanie as the 3rd QB or cut him and go with Weber on the PS as the 3rd.

FB-
Yes, we have a real fullback. Gronk has been doing a great job opening holes and clearing out linebackers. I've been impressed with him.

RB-
McGahee looks great. Despite not having breakaway speed, he gets the most out of every carry. He still has the agility and vision to be an effective #1 back. Hillman will have to get fully healthy before we know what we have in him. Lance Ball is average and reliable. You know exactly what you're going to get out of him night in and night out. He'll never be more than a quality #3 back in the NFL. Knowshon fits the role of a 3rd and mid to long range back perfectly. He works well out in space, has good hands, and does an excellent job of picking up the blitz.

WR-
Decker is obviously ahead of the curve with Manning. The chemistry between the two is undeniable. I'm going to be patient with DT. He's still learning how to run routes, and trying to get on the same page with Manning. The talent is there. Hopefully it will all come together at some time during the season. Stokely looks like he's 28 again. Still slow as frozen molasses, still knows how to get open, and still has hands like glue. I have no idea who the 4th WR will be. Caldwell was a lock early on, but he's fallen by the wayside some in the preseason. This may be a position that the Broncos scour the waiver wire for at the end of the week. Willis has been hot and cold as well.

TE-
Dreesen is solid. His blocking has been good, and he can catch the ball. Tamme has been a huge disappointment. He can't block and he hasn't been able to regin the ball in consistently. Manning won't keep throwing to a guy that he doesn't trust to hang on to the ball. Virgil Green is still a solid blocker and backup fullback. I expect him to make the cut, but this might be another position that the Broncos bolster through the waiver wire. It would be a contraversial move, but I'd love to see the Broncos go after Chris Cooley. He can block, he can get open, and he can catch the dang ball.

OL-
This is where it gets messy. Clady looks like he's returning to form. Franklin looks like he's improving in pass blocking and has always been a beast in the run game. Manny Ramirez has been a very pleasant surprise. He's been left to block one on one most of the preseason, and has more than held his own in pass blocking. If you pay close attention, you'll notice that the Broncos almost always use Beadles and Walton to double one pass rusher, while the other three lineman are left to handle thier men alone. Beadles and Walton are fine in pass protection as long as the other team is rushing only four. When they rush more, it gets ugly. Need an example? Watch the San Fran game. Mannings big hit came on a play where the Dline stunted and Beadles let his man come free through the middle. The play where Hanie was strip sacked? Beadles was left to block one on one on a stunt and was beaten like a drum again. Ramirez is clearly a better guard than Beadles. Don't be surprised to see him moved to LG when Kuper gets back on the field. Don't get me started on the backups. I don't think the Broncos have a single quality backup lineman outside of Manny Ramirez.




Defense-
Dline- This unit has been the biggest surprise of the preseason. There is talent, depth, and power in that Dline. How long has it been since we could say that? The Broncos starting Dline has been superb. Warren looks like he's back to form. He's eating up double teams and opening up opportunities for his linemates. Big Vick is big Vick again. He's been consistently pushing lineman back towards the QB and collapsing the pocket. He's solid against the run as well. Unrein is a quality backup. Wolfe is making an impact despite missing OTA's. He's in on just about every play with the starting defense, playing end on run downs and tackle on passing downs. Many considered Ayers a solid starter last season. This season he's a solid backup. Beal flashed early, but has faded some. He might be the odd man out here. Doom is back to his 2009 form. Is it just me or does he look quicker this year? Malik Jackson has made his mark in the preseason as well. His versatility on the line makes him even more valuable. I expect to see his role increase as the season goes on. When was the last time the Broncos had two promising rookie defensive lineman on the roster?

Linebackers-
Outside of Von Miller there's little to be happy about. Von looks great. I'd like to see him rushing the passer more and covering TE's and RB's less. Joe Mays is still the misguided missle. It's going to take a lot for this defense to cover up his mistakes. Wesley Woodyard is a 3rd down linebacker at best. He's not starter material. Our glimmer of hope here is Danny Trevathan. He seems to have a nose for the ball and can cover well. It's too early to tell if he's Wesley Woodyard 2, or a promising young every down linebacker. He was playing well before the injury, and I thought he had a chance to supplant Woodyard. I'd love to see Brooking get healthy and take over the MLB job. I'd rather have a slower, more instinctive MLB that will get to the right gap (albeit slower than most) and put himself in position to make a tackle, than a guy that takes himself out of most plays with missed tackles and wrong angles. His hammy may have done him in though. It's not hard to see why they are keeping DJ around. He may be a knucklehead off of the field, but he's still the 2nd best linebacker on this roster. This is another position that the Broncos may try to improve via the waiver wire, or even through trade.

Safety-
I'm liking the Mike Adams signing more and more every game. He doesn't do anything flashy. He just gets the job done and you can count on him to be in the right place. Rahim Moore is a big risk out there on the field. His athleticism doesn't seem to translate well in game action. He's still making mental errors that could cost this team games. Quinton Carter was hurt early on in camp and hasn't been able to get back on the field. Our ace in the hole may be Jim Leonhard. He's another solid vet that knows how to be in the right place at the right time. He actually might be the best safety on this roster. I'm hoping that he's healthy enough to play a lot in Thursday's game. He also might be our best punt returner outside of Eric Decker.

Cornerback-
Champ is still blanketing the other team's best receiver and playing at a pro bowl level. Tracy Porter is a huge upgrade over Goodman, and Chris Harris is picking up where he left off last season. The Broncos only weak spot here is the 4th corner. I'll take that. This unit has been massively upgraded in the offseason. Between the defensive line and the corners, we might just be able to overcome some of the linebacker woes.



Special Teams-
Our kickers are solid. Our return game needs a serious boost. I'd love to see the Broncos bring in a return guy and add some gusto to this phase of the game. For now though I'll settle for our returners holding onto the ball.

Overall I'm pleased. I didn't expect the Broncos to win the Super Bowl this season, and still don't. The depth is a major concern, but I do think that we can win the division, make some serious noise in the playoffs, and head into the offseason with just a few holes to fill to put us over the edge. I can't wait for the season to start.
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Old 08-29-2012, 03:38 AM   #2
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Good god it's like I wrote that myself. Thanks for saving me the time. I agree 100% with everything you said and I came to the same conclusions myself....EXACTLY.

The only thing I want to add is......imagine if we had not lost Brodrick Bunkley. Now you're talking about one of the better DLines in football.

Okay, I will add a tad more.

I also think this defense will get a huge boost when DJ comes back. I still think he's the best overall LB on the team. Miller is definitely better rushing the passer and maybe just as good against the run but DJ is much better at coverage. Mays and Irving suck flat out, no two ways around it.
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Old 08-29-2012, 04:34 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZONA View Post
Good god it's like I wrote that myself. Thanks for saving me the time. I agree 100% with everything you said and I came to the same conclusions myself....EXACTLY.

The only thing I want to add is......imagine if we had not lost Brodrick Bunkley. Now you're talking about one of the better DLines in football.

Okay, I will add a tad more.

I also think this defense will get a huge boost when DJ comes back. I still think he's the best overall LB on the team. Miller is definitely better rushing the passer and maybe just as good against the run but DJ is much better at coverage. Mays and Irving suck flat out, no two ways around it.
I agree that's a very insightful analysis, but on your point regarding DJ Williams, I think he's done here, and may even be suspended for much of the season anyway. I agree he would be a huge upgrade from what we have right now, but I just get the sense that he has taken one giant step over the line, and out the door.

I hate the idea that the Broncos might cut him outright. A trade outside the conference would be nice, but I just don't know if that's possible with all his baggage.

The one thing I believe could hurt the Broncos badly again this year will be Special Teams. Colquitt and Prater are very good, but our PR, KR units look really weak to me.
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:00 AM   #4
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Good write up. I'm very concerned about our O-Line and line backers.
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:08 AM   #5
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Quote:
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I'm very concerned about our O-Line and line backers.
And it's very puzzling to me why the FO didn't use FA to help address these deficiencies. Particularly at the LB position where there were quite a few players available who would have been upgrades.
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:21 AM   #6
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Here is what we've learned.

Manning cannot throw to his right based on the astute observations of John Clayton (except when he does).

Caldwell is the new claw

Harris is toast

Hanie is heinous but better than a green rookie

Mays is like an alligator avoid running right at him, and you'll get by

Moore still has a lot of work to do on his angles

WR/TE's must be in shock from having the ball hit them in the hands

DL looks good for now, I worry about the second level

Depth is not so good on the lines

Having a FB that isn't playing QB is fun to watch
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:25 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FireFly View Post
Good write up. I'm very concerned about our O-Line and line backers.
Starting OL has looked pretty good, I think, but there is zero depth. and I think that pretty much sums up the team as a whole. The starting units look pretty good, but the depth is terrible. If we can stay relatively healthy, we should have an excellent season. But if the injury bug hits, there will be some issues.

Last edited by BroncoInferno; 08-29-2012 at 07:29 AM..
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:41 AM   #8
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I would love to see the FO pick up some cuts for O-line development (practice squad). There have to be a couple young players out there that we could develop this year.

Blake has been a big disappointment to me. I thought his age, and significant playing experience would put him in the positiion to compete right away. Now, we have an "old" rookie who hasn't shown he is ready to compete at Guard or Center.

LB still worries me a bit, and the Brooking thing is a little concerning. If he can't play tomorrow, it will be tough to cut one of these young performers like Johnson. He may not be lights out, but the kid is consistent, and the kind of "developing player" you want on your practice squad or special teams.

Last edited by cmhargrove; 08-29-2012 at 09:54 AM..
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:55 AM   #9
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That Manning won't break the first time he's hit hard. In the end, that's all that matters. The rest of the stuff we "learned" really only applies to the preseason and not necessarily the regular season, when teams start game planning and playing their starters for a full 60 minutes.
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Old 08-29-2012, 08:07 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmhargrove View Post
I would love to see the FO pick up some cuts for O-line development (practice squad). There have to be a couple young players out there that we could develop this year.

Blake has been a big disappointment to me. I thought his age, and significant playing experience would put him in the positiion to compete right away. Now, we have an "old" rookie who hasn't shown he is ready to compete at Guard or Center.

LB still worries me a bit, and the Brooking thing is a little concerning. If he can't play tomorrow, it will be tough to cut one of these young performers like Johnson. He may night be lights out, but the kid is consistent, and the kind of "developing player" you want on your practice squad or special teams.
Walton is looking a lot better - we forget that a lot of the 2010 draft class just went though their first regular off season, but he's still got some work to do, especially in pass pro. Beadles, I like him so much more as the 6th man/swing OT, but, depth again!, he's better than what else we've got right now. Manning helps out the line too.

LB, in both run and pass D, is the glaring weak spot right now, and it doesn't get all that much better when DJ comes back.
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Old 08-29-2012, 08:18 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Finkle View Post
Here is what we've learned.

Manning cannot throw to his right based on the astute observations of John Clayton (except when he does).

Caldwell is the new claw

Harris is toast

Hanie is heinous but better than a green rookie

Mays is like an alligator avoid running right at him, and you'll get by

Moore still has a lot of work to do on his angles

WR/TE's must be in shock from having the ball hit them in the hands

DL looks good for now, I worry about the second level

Depth is not so good on the lines

Having a FB that isn't playing QB is fun to watch
Awesome.
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Old 08-29-2012, 08:35 AM   #12
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Overall this an improved team. It needs to be, because we play a tough deep guantlet of a schedule.
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Old 08-29-2012, 08:41 AM   #13
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Dumervil had a high ankle sprain for much of last year BTW...he is moving a lot better now.
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Old 08-29-2012, 09:30 AM   #14
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What have we learned about this team in preseason?

That it's preseason.

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Old 08-29-2012, 10:06 AM   #15
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Our LB group is just worrisome sans Von Miller, who is still learning how to be an all around backer at the NFL level.

I sure hope that's the next step in our rebuild, because that position is going to bite us over and over if it doesn't get the improvements it needs.
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Old 08-29-2012, 10:07 AM   #16
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I think we have improved overall but, still have a long way to go. At this point I want us to beat NE and Balt and move forward from there.

Any position can turn out to be a weakness when season starts. Our depth is awful
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Old 08-29-2012, 10:20 AM   #17
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Great write up. The only thing I am not seeing from your Gronk being that good. I would say the jury is still out on whether or not he is a long term answer - though he clearly has this year locked up. But he isnt being annihilated at the point of attack like Larsen used to.
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Old 08-29-2012, 10:46 AM   #18
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I agree with most points but still concerned about our depth on defense, if any starters go down we'll need some youngsters to step up big time.
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Old 08-29-2012, 11:14 AM   #19
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This is a team I frankly expect to be fighting for a playoff bye and conference championships IF they can avoid serious injuries. The depth on this team is just nowhere near as good as other top AFC teams like the Patriots, Steelers, Ravens and even Texans. I think our starters are as good as any team in the AFC and they are well-coached, Del Rio has done a lot of good things with the defense, Fox is a guy the players appear to have a lot of respect for and it seems that every man on the team is pulling in the same direction and between Mccoy and Manning the offensive side is under control.
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Old 08-29-2012, 12:47 PM   #20
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I know we have issues all over the line backing corps, but I think that as time goes by, Jack Del rio will make them alot better. Like EVERYONE has mentioned, Our depth is piss poor, I can name 5 college teams that would beat our scrubs heads up.
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Old 08-29-2012, 02:36 PM   #21
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I learned that...

I love good QB play.
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Old 08-29-2012, 02:44 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jekyll15Hyde View Post
Great write up. The only thing I am not seeing from your Gronk being that good. I would say the jury is still out on whether or not he is a long term answer - though he clearly has this year locked up. But he isnt being annihilated at the point of attack like Larsen used to.
The thing to remember is that good downfield blocking is more about locking up than laying the wood. Most players are taught poor mechanics all the way back in youth leagues and high school.

Knocking an NFL linebacker to the back or side rarely takes him out of the play. Locking up with the hands, then continuing to drive with the legs is the surest way to maintain a downfield block and nullify the defender. I just saw a play or two where Gronk used his speed to get through the hole, then locked up properly. Hopefully he keeps it up and Willis can have another monster year.
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Old 08-29-2012, 02:46 PM   #23
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Agree with most of it although I don't think Mike Adams is all that special. Safety should be a big priority next year assuming Moore does't turn a HUGE corner.
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Old 08-29-2012, 02:50 PM   #24
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Well done, Sir. Tough to separate pre-season fiction from reality but you summed things up really well going into Week One.
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Old 08-29-2012, 03:19 PM   #25
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And it's very puzzling to me why the FO didn't use FA to help address these deficiencies. Particularly at the LB position where there were quite a few players available who would have been upgrades.
There were some very good middle linebackers on the market. Lofton, Conner, and Tulloch would have all been a big upgrade over Mays.
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