Broncos vs Bears Recap: Heroes and Zeros

Hello everyone. It’s been a long time since we had some actual Broncos news to dissect. It’s also been a long time since we’ve posted a new article around here. Both of those end today.

In lieu of doing a straight up game recap, I thought it would be a good idea to highlight some players who I thought did well against the Bears last night, and some who well… you know.

Maybe this will be a regular column at Pegboards. I don’t know. I don’t like to promise anything with this blog, but if I can make it happen, I will.

I don’t care that it’s preseason. Damn it feels good to have Broncos football back. Let’s get to it.

Heroes

1. The Rookies

If watching the draft classes from the last couple of years has made you wonder if John Elway drew those picks out of a hat, then last night was a wonderful relief. Garrett Bolles was solid and poised at left tackle. Isiah McKenzie and De’Angelo Henderson scored the game-tying and go-ahead touchdowns, respectively. Kyle Sloter threw one of those touchdowns! It was nice of those backup guys to remind us all that, yes, it is possible for the Broncos’ offense to score on its own.

In all seriousness, the Broncos aren’t going anywhere this year without significant contributions from their rookie class. There just isn’t enough depth at key points on the roster. If last night was any indication of how Bolles, McKenzie and Henderson will perform over the course of the season, then the offense is primed for a much needed boost and the Broncos may wind up somewhere nice. I would say that after his positive showing that maybe Sloter deserves something other than garbage time, but unless Siemian gets hurt again and Lynch decides to pursue a life as an actual pirate, that’s not happening.

And before I forget, Jamal Carter! That guy was everywhere last night. I predicted he’d be the latest undrafted rookie to make the team, and I feel pretty damn good now about that prediction.

2. The No Fly Zone

Hey guys. They were only on the field for one series last night, but Captain Obvious called and he wanted you to know that our starting secondary is still really good. Like tremendously good. I told him to call back next week when they prove that again.

With all the frustration centered around the offense, it can be easy to forget how lucky we are to have so many excellent defensive backs on the Denver D. Remember the days of Deltha O’Neal, Dre Bly and Andre Goodman? I sure do. And without Chris Harris Jr.’s pick six, the Broncos lose that game. We may hate that the defense so frequently has to bail the offense out, but the fact that they even have the ability to do so is a luxury that we shouldn’t take for granted.

3. Vance Joseph

The head coach of the Broncos will always be judged by how well he does in the playoffs. John Fox won a ton in the regular season during his time here (with a little help from Peyton Manning), but his failures on the big stage have made him a reviled figure by a large portion of the fan base. So why is Joseph getting praised for winning a meaningless preseason game?

Because given his quarterback situation, wins may be hard to come by this season and I wanted to give the man his due for this one. Yeah, we are about to dive into that…

Zeros

1. Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch

There is not even a trace of bias from me when it comes to the Broncos’ top quarterbacks. I thought their play was completely underwhelming and uninspiring. It is yet another instance of Siemian doing nothing to lose the job with his ultra conservative play and Lynch doing nothing to win the job with his frustratingly erratic play. Allow me to explain.

I have nothing against Trevor being the quarterback of this team. I have praised him in the past and dogged him in the past, but if I’m being honest I think my critical assessment of him was much more on target. Siemian manages the game well. He stays calm and collected on the field and generally keeps the ball out of harm’s way. He also settles for the checkdown about as often as I settle for Subway for lunch. It’s right by my office, is relatively cheap and is healthy(ish), but I digress. That was the Siemian that I saw for most of last year, and that was the guy who I saw last night. On the Broncos’ lone scoring drive with the first-team unit, it took a multitude of penalties by the Bears to even get into field goal range for a three-point try.

Now, you can blame some of that on adjusting to a new offense. You can also throw the work in progress offensive line and the complete absence of tight ends in the passing game under the bus as well, if you’d like. I would. But I didn’t see much improvement in Siemian’s game, and that makes me worry.

That goes double for Paxton Lynch. For all the offseason talk that his development was night and day over last year, he sure didn’t do much to support that last night. Whereas Siemian had trouble leading the Broncos into scoring position, Lynch struggled to even get the second-unit to the 50-yard line. He made poor throws. He wasn’t progressing through his reads. He didn’t seem to have any clue of what he was doing. Are we sure that he’s not still a rookie?

Take a moment and picture Lynch attempting to solve Bill Belichick’s defense on a Sunday night against the Patriots. Or imagine how well he’ll keep his composure on a road game at Arrowhead Stadium against the Chiefs and their rabid fans. If he looks rattled and lost against a Bears second-string defense that isn’t very good in a game that no one will ever care about, how is he going to fare when the stakes are high and the pressure is on? Doesn’t take an expert analyst to figure that one out.

Put these two together and you might have a pretty decent quarterback. Individually, I just have a rotten feeling in my gut that neither one will ever be the answer at the most important position for the Broncos. And I know that it has only been one preseason game and that Mike McCoy just got back and that he’s one of the best at modifying his offense to help his signal caller succeed. A light could turn on for one of them and things could start clicking and I’ll look back on how silly I was for being so negative. Hey, it’s football and weird shit happens.

But every time I watch these guys play, I feel a little less hopeful that it’s going to work out. And if things keep trending that way, Elway will be looking for a new quarterback in 2018, because he has to get that position solved if Joseph is ever going to have a chance at surviving in this town.

2. The Backup Offensive Line

I have a question: how can a group that is as inept as our second and third-string offensive line not just keep their jobs, but be invited back for another go-round with the same team? Because I’m struggling to fathom why guys like Dillon Day, Donald Stephenson, Ty Sambrailo and others are kept around despite such consistently dismal performances. I know I would be fired at my job if I were that incompetent.

There’s nothing else to say really. Three more preseason games and most of these guys will be joining the rest of us in the blue collar workforce.

3. Backup Defense

Yikes. I knew our o-line depth was a disaster, but our backup defense made Mitchell Trubisky look like Andrew Luck. He completed passes at will, created his own big plays and drove the Bears up and down the field. Of course, he gets a lot of credit for that and the backups did shut down Mark Sanchez (yes, he still has a job in the NFL too), but it was a bit disconcerting to see a rookie impose his will on our defense.

Is this a reason for concern? Probably not. A bunch of starters didn’t play and again, a lot of these guys will be competing with us normal people for jobs by September. That doesn’t mean the backup defense wasn’t bad, though. Because they were.

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