DENVER—The Denver Broncos opened their 2016 preseason exactly 186 days after hoisting the Lombardi trophy in Santa Clara, Cali. last February. That team was built on defense, special teams, and attitude.
Judging teams by their preseason performance is always a treacherous task, but after watching these Broncos compete in two weeks of training camp, and now one preseason game, it’s clear to see that this year’s edition of the Broncos will once again be built on defense, special teams, and attitude.
Denver defeated the Chicago Bears 22-0 Thursday night in the Windy City in flat-out dominant fashion.
Quarterback Competition Still Even
The Broncos’ ongoing quarterback competition between Trevor Siemian and Mark Sanchez was the headline coming into tonight’s game. Those two have essentially been even throughout training camp and the coaching staff had hoped that tonight’s game would help provide some separation. It didn’t.
Sanchez got the opportunity to start with the first team and looked sharp on the opening possession of the game. He led a long drive, ending in a 32-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas.
However, on the following possession, Sanchez reverted into the player he’s been throughout much of this training camp, throwing an interception to Jerrell Freeman near the end of the first quarter.
Sanchez just can’t seem to get out of his own way. Even head coach Gary Kubiak made note of the poor decision during his half-time interview with KUSA’s Rod Mackey.
“Obviously, we got one turnover,” Kubiak said. “Mark needs to protect the ball.”
Sanchez finished the night going 10/13 for 99 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Meanwhile, Siemian looked like the crisp, efficient passer he’s been in training camp. He went 7/12 for 88 yards.
However, he also missed two throws that he normally makes and struggled with his ball placement on balls beyond 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. He’ll likely be given the chance to start next week against the San Francisco 49ers, and will need to capitalize on that opportunity.
Bibbs Has Solid Showing
This preseason is the time for former Colorado State running back Kapri Bibbs to make his mark. The Broncos most likely won’t be able to sneak him onto their practice squad, so if he wants to stay in Denver he needs to produce.
He does have a legitimate shot to make this team, and has looked sharp throughout training camp. Bibbs came to play in Chicago tonight.
He looked strong at the point of attack and shed tackles with the kind of pure power the coaching staff has seen from him during camp. He led the Broncos in rushing, carrying the ball 15 times for 53-yards.
This season, the Broncos quarterback competition is all about Trevor Siemian and Mark Sanchez, but there’s no doubt that Paxton Lynch is the future of this team.
The rookie first-round pick out of Memphis looked spectacular at times, finishing the game He has top-ten upside and he showed that off tonight. He completed passes on the run and showed an ability to climb the pocket and make smart decisions. Once he figures out the mental side of the game, Lynch could be one of the game’s premier talents.
“I liked his reactions,” Kubiak said. “I think it was positive, let’s go get better next week.”
Lynch was 6/7 for 74-yards. He also added 5 yards on the ground, including a smart scramble for a first down.
McManus’ Struggles Continue
Brandon McManus went 2-4 on field goal attempts tonight. In and of itself, that isn’t news. However, when you consider the subpar training camp McManus has had, and his history of inconsistency, the Broncos’ kicker’s performance is starting to raise some questions.
Last season, McManus won a position battle with Connor Barth that seemed to propel his game to another level. It seems that he may be slipping a bit without having that competition again this season.
“D” Still Dominant
For a team with so many questions, one thing became shockingly clear tonight. This defense is going to be fine. In fact, they’re better than fine. They are dominant.
The Broncos’ defense, which guided this team to a world championship last season, looked to be in mid-season form.
They sacked four different Bears quarterbacks a remarkable seven times, they forced an interception, and held Chicago to a combined 130 total yards.
Those are the kinds of dominant defensive numbers that the Broncos are hoping for during the regular season, no matter who winds up being the starting quarterback when the Broncos play the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 8.
The Broncos will take to the field once again in preseason game No. 2 Aug. 20 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.