ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Revenge is not best served in the preseason, but as far as sometimes sloppy, weather-delayed games go, the Denver Broncos gladly took the 21-16 victory over the Seattle Seahawks for what it was worth.
A good start.
“That’s it, you know you always want to play it hard," said defensive tackle Terrance Knighton. "And in that first quarter, a little bit of the second quarter, it felt like a regular-season game. Yeah, it feels good to beat them anytime. Last season they beat us in the preseason and the Super Bowl. Obviously it will feel better to beat them in Week 3 in their house, but we want to get this going and it was a good way to get it going."
And a look back at the game showed some good things, some bad things and a little in between.
OK, we get it. The officials are under orders to crank things down even more on defensive players. That’s what "points of emphasis" are, after all. And the Broncos may disagree with a few of the flags, and a few were in the "iffy" zone, but 12 penalties for 95 yards is not how they’re going to want to do business. They had 12 different players flagged in the game, including guard Louis Vasquez, who was flagged just three times in all of last season. Vasquez’ holding penalty was one of four holding penalties the Broncos had Thursday night. And beyond the flags that come with the scrutiny on defensive holding and illegal contact, offensive holding will bear watching for this team. Last season the Broncos threw more passes than every team except the Cleveland Browns and they were also one of 10 teams to be flagged for holding at least 26 times -- the Broncos had 26. Thursday night Vasquez, Chris Clark, Ben Garland and Gerell Robinson were each flagged once.
The Broncos often talk of having the same playbook for starting quarterback Peyton Manning as well as backup quarterback Brock Osweiler. And they do. But they still used different pages Thursday night. After lining up in heavy formations for the first four snaps Manning was in the game -- two snaps with two tight ends and two snaps with four tight ends (backup tackle Paul Cornick was one of them) -- the Broncos went to their bread and butter as they lined up in a three-wide formation for Manning’s next 19 snaps (penalties includes) before closing out with a two-tight-end-look on Ronnie Hillman's 1-yard touchdown run. When Osweiler entered the game in the second quarter, with several backup linemen as well, the Broncos were in two-tight-end looks for five of his first seven snaps, six of 10 snaps during his second drive, and four of five snaps on his third drive. On Osweiler’s third possession, the only snap the Broncos were in a three-wide resulted in a sack. It simply may be difficult to gauge Osweiler's true proficiency in the team's three-wide look in live contact until he gets to run it behind the team's starting offensive line.
When the Broncos' defense has Von Miller at full speed to go with DeMarcus Ware, defensive end Quanterus Smith could still add a rather tidy X factor if Jack Del Rio can find a place for everyone. Smith, who spent last season on injured reserve, consistently forced the issue in the pass rush Thursday night. Smith already has better inside moves than most young pass-rushers. It enables him to take advantage of tackles simply guarding the corner against an outside rush. He has flashed enough power that he may offer the Broncos something at left defensive end in their specialty packages with both Ware and Miller in the game. Drop Malik Jackson into the middle the defensive line and that's one of the better rush packages the Broncos have been able to trot out in quite some time.
The Broncos are likely too crowded on the depth chart to accommodate him, but undrafted rookie defensive end Kenny Anunike merits a long look for the team’s practice squad. The guy makes things happen.
The Seahawks took their swings at rookie cornerback Bradley Roby, the Broncos’ first-round pick this past May. That was especially true when Roby lined up well off the line of scrimmage, outside of the 5-yard chuck zone. On the Seahawks' last possession of the first half, Tarvaris Jackson completed passes to Paul Richardson, for 12 and 9 yards, on plays where Roby surrendered a big cushion at the snap. If the rookie is going to give that much ground and the free release for the receiver that comes with it, he’s going to have to close on the ball more quickly.
Brandon Marshall and rookie Lamin Barrow were lined up in the two linebacker spots in the Broncos’ second-team nickel. They will almost certainly be among the six or seven players the Broncos keep at the position as will Lerentee McCray, who started at strongside linebacker for Miller.
Garland, who was formally moved to guard this past offseason, and Vinston Painter were in two guard spots with the second-team offense.