ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- After sifting through the good, the not-quite-as-good and the need-work items from the Denver Broncos' preseason opener, here are some takeaways:
QB job is still open, as in wide open. Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian each acquitted himself nicely as coach Gary Kubiak continues to crank the heat up on the two in an attempt to make a decision about a starter. The two quarterbacks certainly got their opportunities in the 22-0 win over the Chicago Bears as Kubiak turned them loose. Sanchez threw 13 times in the first quarter, and Siemian threw 12 times in the second quarter. Siemian likely lost a touchdown pass when wide receiver Bennie Fowler had a nice back-shoulder throw knocked out of his hands before he could complete the catch for the score. After a review of all the throws, as well as all of the notes from practices, Sanchez’s turnovers -- he threw an interception in Thursday night’s game -- more often than not come when he is moving to one side of the field and running out of real estate.
Lynch a work in progress. Rookie Paxton Lynch did what prized rookies do -- he flashed the talent that made him a coveted pick and confirmed how much work he has to do. He showed arm strength and kept his composure, but he also took three sacks in 10 dropbacks -- or as Kubiak put it, “obviously he got sacked a few times." Over the long haul, that’s far too many hits to take, and it will be a big part of his development.
Early returns good on defense. Preseason or not, struggling Bears offense or not, the Broncos kept four Pro Bowl players out of uniform Thursday night and still pitched a shutout. The Bears gained 18 yards in their first four possessions combined, punted eight times, surrendered the ball on downs once, had a punt blocked to go with an interception and a safety. The preseason is annually chock full of the sunshine-and-rainbows reports around the league, but this was evidence the Broncos are deep on the defensive depth chart, as all three groups of their players dominated, and they have an abundance of team speed. If the group plays with the selfless passion and big-play moxie it did last season and avoids injuries, it should be in a position to power the Broncos once again.
Tough calls. The choices at running back will be difficult because all of the productive players the Broncos have at the position won’t make it. Ronnie Hillman or Kapri Bibbs or both could be on the outside looking in if the Broncos keep just three backs (C.J. Anderson, Devontae Booker and Juwan Thompson) to go with fullback Andy Janovich. And it would behoove Bibbs and Hillman to do what they can to show they have special-teams value in the coming days. It’s also crowded on the defensive line, and the decision to keep five or six receivers will take plenty of discussion, as well.
The question marks. The Broncos still need to find two starting guards in the offensive line even as Michael Schofield -- yes, the Broncos coaches like his effort, resiliency and potential at guard far more than most fans who only remember Schofield’s confidence-crushing day against Khalil Mack last season -- and Darrion Weems are pushing hard to be those two guards. Both players have played more at tackle, and the Broncos are moving down inside in search of the right combination. Also, the return jobs remain unsettled -- rookie Kalif Raymond and Bralon Addison showed some speed with the ball, especially on punt returns, but the Broncos want to see some consistent pop.