Broncos at the Bears: The No Bull Preseason Review

Welcome everyone to the No Bull Review. I believe this is my 6th season sharing what I have for you on the action for your Denver Broncos. As always, feel free to hit me up in the comments with your insights and opinions as well as talking with my family out there in Broncos Country is one of the big reasons for these reviews even being here.

For those of you new to MHR and the NBR, let me provide you with a little insight into what this is and what this is not.

The NBR is:
An opinion piece. We aren’t here for “just the facts.” I have opinions and so do you. Take them or leave them, I find it fun to prognosticate and talk all things Broncos. A place for anyone to talk about the game hopefully with an environment of us being able to learn from each other. We all have poor TV angles, let’s talk football and grow in our takes on what is happening from week to week with the team. Big on the eye test. I’ve watched the game for decades and have in the past couple decades really enjoyed studying how it works, the rules, cap management, and everything that makes the Broncos tick. Open and sometimes brutally honest. I don’t pull punches on what I think about players, coaches, or decisions on any game I review. If you have a delicate palate for opinion and critique pieces, I doubt I’ll be your favorite writer on MHR. 🙂
The NBR is not:
A place for mud slinging. Sure, I like me some good natured trash talk, but those of you wanting to exercise your inner Internet tough guy should go troll twitter. To quote the greatest band in the world, “This is not for you.” Big on stats. Yes I use them. Yes they can help with understanding trends, facets, and quality of different things in the game. But mostly what I’ve seen over the years is that people abuse stats in order to try and sound smart / right or make a point that is plainly foolish. If you want to discuss DVOA in all of its glory, please try the fieldgulls.com. They will straight hook you up. Set in stone. One of the things I value is intelligence. Intelligence comes from learning and apply new information and ideas so that you can update your thinking, change your opinion, and grow. I’ll be wrong this season…likely in a big way at some point. It is okay…I promise I’ll own it and eat my plate of crow when it happens. Some of the best things I’ve learned about the game have come from being wrong (Example: Flashy young coaches should not be trusted…especially with every decision affecting football operations. I was a believer in McDaniels when he got here.)

Enough about the review though. Let’s get to some Broncos football!

Defense

Let’s just start by saying our defense is so legit it makes me giddy…even when I feel so very bad about our offense for over a season. We weren’t even playing with our 3 best pass rushers and still made Chicago’s starting offense look pathetic.

Front 7

I’m going to start this party off with some love for a guy many have been throwing under the bus dating back to last season. Jared Crick was a monster in his short time in action. He was run stopping (Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot, Over?) and forcing the issue in a big way with his pass rush. I’m still very much a believer in him being a rotational player, but it is good to see the guy balling out and not getting blown off the ball every play like last season.

The other guy I was impressed with from the starting unit was Kasim Edebali. He looks at first blush like another young pass rushing talent who can get after it around the edge. He was living in the Bears backfield early and likely will see some starting time early in the season with some of our young studs injured. The only nit I’ll pick with his game was a rush that went to his side in the first half where he completely lost contain and got taken out of the play. The announcers nailed it on the broadcast: he simply lost leverage against his man and couldn’t recover quickly enough to make a play.

These two pass rushers caused the initial pick 6 by the way. Yes, Mike Glennon’s pass was terrible. That was because he was busy pooping himself when he threw thanks to some studs putting on the pressure up front.

Billy Winn as a run stopper and lineman who can hold his ground is the friggin truth. I’m very VERY bummed to see his season over with a torn ACL. Get well soon and get back in the trenches, Billy. Broncos Country is cheering for your speedy and complete recovery!

I didn’t see tons of flash from the guy, but can I just say wow does Adam Gotsis look huge!

Secondary

We’ll talk mainly about the depth guys since that’s what was on the field for most of the night. Everyone already knows that Chris Harris, Jr. and Aqib Talib are the poster children for how to play the position of Cornerback in the NFL.

Jamal Carter looked fairly impressive from the safety position. What I like most was his nose for the ball. He was always around plays and that shows a safety who is correctly diagnosing plays. Also, big kudos from me for him going to the ground to secure the fumble early in the game. A lot of players try to play super hero and let the other team recover by trying to scoop and run. Those fumble recoveries are solid gold and I will never fault a guy for going to the ground to get it unless there is no time on the clock.

I also liked what Orion Stewart was doing. He’s still a bit rough as a rookie, but he has the potential to grow into another solid defensive back.

There was also quite a bit of hype going on in Training Camp about Lorenzo Doss. I’m just still not impressed. He had as much down as up to his play from what I saw. I think he has a lot of work to do to keep his position out of the hands of a young, developing player in Brendan Langley.

Offense

Can you say, “Hot garbage”? I came into this preseason game being as hyped as any one of you out there in Broncos Country about the potential for an offense with some teeth. I came away from this game wanting to say the least.

Quarterbacks

Trevor Siemian is still Trevor Siemian. Anyone who says anything like, “he won the night” along with anything positive about his play is full of bull. He’s a nice, safe, warm blanket at QB who will mostly throw short of the chains on 3rd down and do nothing to help the team get some big plays on the field. Credit where it is due, though: I did love his 3rd down conversion to DT which was a very solid play.

Paxton Lynch looked a whole lot like a taller, skinnier, far less charismatic, weaker running version of Tim Tebow. Sadly, I have to go there. The kid I saw a week ago at training camp was nowhere to be seen in this game. He had derpy overthrows, his footwork still looks like garbage, and his read / reaction time is non-existent.

What does this add up to? Well, to me it adds up to nothing yet. I want to see Lynch with the 1s next week. I want to see a whole lot more of both of them. That passing show we got from Trubisky was something that we can and should be able to get out of one of them in the preseason against vanilla defenses with very little game planning going on.

There’s something to be said for that and is worth tempering our expectations: Mike McCoy didn’t run anything wild or crazy in his game plan for either QB. There was a couple of roll outs for Lynch, but they were very simple pass designs with one read. That being said, his QBs and the offense was nothing better than the shizzle-show we had all last season which was far short of what a competent NFL offense looks like.

Also, on Kyle Sloter talk to me if he keeps showing up both the other guys the rest of the preseason. Until that happens, he’s a practice squad guy in all likelihood much like the Bradlee Van Pelts of bygone years. I’m honestly glad Vance Joeseph got real about his chances to start when asked about it. (LOL)

Line

I have to say the line does look improved to me. I saw some very good push up front with the majority of the linemen pushing their guys off their mark against the run which is a sight better than the joke of a line we had last year.

The one constant I saw was Max Garcia. He still gets pushed around way too often and looked to be a liability on the left side. If this continues, I highly expect Allen Barbre will be starting week 1.

Both tackles looked shaky in pass defense. I get it for a rookie like Bolles, but Menelik Watson needs to step it up. He can’t expect our passing offense to work with him playing ‘ole on the right side to the premier NFL pass rushers.

Running Backs

The 3 guys that got decent work in in this game were C.J. Anderson, De’Angelo Henderson, and Stevan Ridley. I saw decent runs out of all of them, but the only cat of the 3 to break a play was Henderson. I honestly don’t read much into this though. The offensive scheme was very vanilla in the run game with a ton of basic inside runs being called for the vast majority of their snaps. The encouraging thing we can take away from this preseason action was seeing some semblance of consistent holes being created by the offensive line. Whoever runs the rock for the Broncos this year WILL have the chance to do something other than try to make something out of a play where they are getting hit in the backfield.

Receivers

The guy deserving some love in this game has to be Cody Latimer. For both of our derpy QBs, he was a highly productive target who made catches that were even thrown a bit behind him on some routes. I came into this season ready to dust off Latimer as a loss, but this game made me cheer for him more and more as the game went on.

I also want to hype up Isaiah McKenzie some more. It was really cool to see him blow by the coverage for a TD catch in the end zone. That isn’t something we’re going to see likely ever in the regular season, but it was cool to see a hard working rookie hit some pay dirt to help the team clinch the victory.

You want to know something else that bums me out though? Where the hell were the tight ends in the game? Anyone? I can’t believe a Mike McCoy offense is completely shunning the tight end in the passing game. Both QBs should be looking more for some solid passes to their tight ends to get some drives going. I would at least like to see some more consistent attempts in the preseason their way so we can get a chance to see what the TEs have.

McManus is money, Jordan Taylor laid some wood, and Khalif Raymond looked like a legit kick returner. That’s about all I got this week on the special teams.

I honestly wonder a bit whether I’m still shell-shocked a bit from last year’s offensive team. I hated watching our offense at the end of last season and this game was the same junky non-productive garbage we saw most of last year.

I’ll leave you with this thought to ponder and maybe we can discuss it a bit in the comments: Do you think the Broncos organization has lost sight of what it takes for competent NFL quality offensive football? Do we not know even with new coaches how to develop QBs? Has Denver and its fans ever had the patience to let a guy go through growing pains?

I wonder if our team’s vision of winning “from now on” isn’t getting in the way of truly making progress on developing the QB of the future for this team.

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