The butterflies are now out of the way for fans and for the NFL. Peyton Manning has officially hit the field and we got to see a quick glimpse of him in a different shade of blue…that being the navy blue, white and orange of the Denver Broncos.
Manning and the Broncos offense got to the field first, and Head Coach John Fox didn’t waste anytime seeing how Manning would look in his first pass attempt. First play, spread four wide shotgun formation and ball batted down at the line with the pass intended for TE Jacob Tamme.
Obviously this was a game for Manning to just get his feet under him again.
But some things I noticed as well with Manning at the helm is that this offense is still in the works in terms of being on the same page.
Following a first down conversion on 3rd & 17, Decker was in motion and Manning had waved him off to go back to where he was in position before. Not sure if it was a designed motion and Manning saw something and called it off, but this is something that will be worked on going into the season as well.
Manning and the offense will still be learning from each other on pre-snap reads and seeing what Manning is seeing so that this offense can operate just like it did when he was with the Colts.
The offensive line did a good job overall and especially in the passing game. Last season, the pass protection wasn’t stellar, but having Tebow and his indecisiveness didn’t help neither. But the line did a good job giving Manning the time to get through his progressions and making the throw to his target.
This time spent in the offseason between Manning and Decker working together is already paying off. Although it was just a couple passes, Manning was going to Decker early and even hit him on the 3rd & 17, good for 19 yards and a first down.
The Broncos got Knowshon Moreno out there with the second team for a few snaps and he somewhat produced. But he saw a couple series and that was his night. The standout running back from the nightwas Xavier Omon. He didn’t dance around in the backfield, he was “one cut and up the field”. He kept his legs working when he hit a pile and seemed to even move it. Lance Ball might have some competition this preseason.
Caleb Hanie wasn’t thrilling out there, but he seemed to at least get the job “done” as a backup. He did his job of just making the easy passes and managing the game, like a back-up is supposed to, but he should look over his shoulder as well. Brock Osweiler has some serious potential. He reminded me of Jay Cutler…and no it isn’t just because he also wears number 6. As a rookie, the similarities with the two were the fact that they starred down their receiver, making it easy for defenders to see where the QB is going. Accuracy was hit or miss throughout the night. Decision making was questionable but will obviously improve as he get acclimated to the game. He did look comfortable in the pocket, and he did have “zip” on his passes as well, particularly the 19 yard pass to Jason Hill for the touchdown. When he let that ball go, it almost appeared that the ball was traveling on a zip line to the receiver. For the positives that was noticed with Osweiler, there were somethings that needed to be worked on in his game. I expect Hanie to be the backup to Manning going into the season, but I won’t be surprised if halfway through the season the team decides to move Osweiler ahead of Hanie.
The defense had their ears pinned back and seem to be embracing the idea by Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio of being “aggressive”. The rush D was problem last season, and for the night it looked solid. The D held the Bears to 36 yards on 21 carries. The first and second team defense tallied three sacks, one from Robert Ayers and two from rookie and training camp stand out, DT Derek Wolfe. Wolfe has been known to have a decent pass rush ability as a DT, but he has shown great speed and the team intends to move him all over the line, ala Von Miller and what he does at the LB position. Wolfe may not start the season, but he will play lots this season, for the night, it looked like the Broncos found themselves quite the player.
On the flip-side of being aggressive is also being discipline. It was the first game and players are going to just work themselves back into rhythm, but penalties early on the D. Most notably by Elvis Dumervil, first he was tagged with roughing the passer, then offsides on the next play. Again, these are things that the D will correct as the preseason progresses.
It’s just the first game, lots of rust needs to be shaken off and kinks worked out. The next game for the Broncos will be Saturday, August 18th against the Seattle Seahawks at Sports Authority Field from Mile High. We will get a better view of this team and what it will look like as the first team will most likely play the first quarter and maybe a series into the second quarter.
-Joshua Ryan Reising