It was only the first of four meaningless pre-season games, but there was plenty to take away from Broncos @ Bears.
The Denver Broncos probably felt pretty good about themselves leaving Soldier Field last night having whalloped the Chicago Bears 31-3.
Several of Chicago’s stars sat out the game. Among those was their starting quarterback, Jay Cutler, and their ferocious leader on defense, Brian Urlacher. Still, the Broncos looked so much better that them that it’s doubful a handful of starters would have tipped the scales in Chicago’s favor. Of course, no NFL team really cares much about winning or losing pre-season games. What matters is what the coaches learn about the players and what the players prove that they have learned in camp. Based on that criteria, the Broncos seem to be ahead of schedule.
Here are five things I took away from last nights game:
1) the Broncos are really, really well coached.
Both lines, the offensive and the defensive, played exceptionally well. Players on both sides of the ball seemed to be where they were supposed to be. The offensive moved the ball effectively and the defense didn’t allow Chicago to accomplish much at all. Tackling was crisp and there were many brilliant one-on-one open field take-downs.
The influence of Jack Del Rio was clearly visible. The Broncos were far less sloppy looking than they had been on the defensive side of the ball. It was an encouraging sign. Mike McCoy’s offensive squad also had its shit together. Running lanes were opened, receivers ran good routes and the quarterbacks were given ample time to operate.
2) Knowshon Moreno is done.
Two young backs shined last night. Xavier Oman and Jeremiah Johnson each made convincing cases for playing time ahead of Knowshon. Moreno exhibited some of the same flaws that have plagued him in the past. He seems to run into tacklers and he dances way, way too much. Even on the sloppy, wet Soldier Field turf he insisted on attempting to make cut-backs in the backfield rather than lowering his head and bursting forward. Nobody will be surprised to see him given his release.
3) Brock Osweiler is the second best QB and it’s not close.
John Elway took some guff from the local media for trading away his first-round pick and taking Brock Osweiler from ASU in the second round. If last night was any indication, though, Osweiler should be the number 2 behind Peyton Manning. He looked really good. Osweiler is confident, tall and strong and he operated very well from the pocket while demonstrating great mobility for a QB his size. Hopefully we are seeing the future in “Plan B”.
It was really cool to see Peyton Manning coaching Brock up on the sidelines. If he can absorb the advice of a Hall-of-Famer for a few seasons before becoming the starter and add the mental game to his physical prowess we might be set at QB for a decade or more.
4) the NFL needs its real officials back
If the league cares about player safety and the quality of the product on the field they need to end this lockout ASAP. The officiating in last nights game, while not as horrible as it has been in some other pre-season games, was horrific.
5) Peyton’s fine
Manning’s footwork looked perfect. He ran the offense just like Peyton Manning. He didn’t fire anything too deep downfield, but his mid-range throws looked just fine. The offense clicked along nicely with him under center – right up until he tossed that tipped interception (which folks blamed on Stokely, but it was a poorly thrown ball).
Worries about Manning’s health should be pretty well put to bed now.