Denver Broncos Analysis: Observations from preseason opener


Notes and observations from the Broncos’ 42-28 preseason loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday night:

Offense

*Playing time leaders: OT Elijiah Wilkinson 54, TE Matt LaCosse 38, G J.J. Dielman 37, G Jeremiah Poutasi 32, G Austin Schlottmann 32 and QB Chad Kelly 32.

*First play from scrimmage: The Broncos were in “11” personnel (3WR-1TE-1RB) and split TE Jake Butt wide right, WR Emmanuel Sanders slot left and WR Courtland Sutton wide left. WR Demaryius Thomas went in motion from left to right and caught a pass in the right flat for five yards. It was the longest gain for the starters.

*On second-and-10, RG Connor McGovern couldn’t hang on to DT Sheldon Richardson, who forced RB Devonte Booker into traffic for a three-yard rush. On third-and-7, Sutton was covered closely by CB Trae Waynes and QB Case Keenum threw high 15 yards downfield.

*The offense’s second drive: RB Royce Freeman was held to a four-yard gain when RT Jared Veldheer got caught up in traffic and was unable to block LB Ben Gedeon. Keenum then threw wide of FB Andy Janovich in the right flat and Freeman dropped a semi-low pass that would have been well short of the first-down marker. The third down play featured a weird protection — McGovern kicked out to block DE Tashawn Bower while Veldheer blocked down. McGovern was moving laterally when he engaged with Bower, who then knocked him off balance.

*QB Paxton Lynch’s first pass. Threw in 1.37 seconds and was hit by an unblocked rusher. Throwing into traffic between the hash-marks is never a good idea. The pass was deflected into the air and intercepted.  Lynch’s second pass was off-target — a bubble screen-type to WR River Cracraft that was behind him, ruining the timing. WR DaeSean Hamilton couldn’t get a good enough block on S Anthony Harris (no gain). Lynch’s third pass was incomplete when he needlessly slid out of the pocket, missing Hamilton open over the middle.

*Lynch had no chance during his third drive. On third-and-4, the Vikings rushed four and Bower looped inside unblocked when RG Billy Turner and Wilkinson didn’t swap rushers. The sack was in 2.77 seconds.

*Freeman’s 23-yard touchdown run was a well-designed play. The Broncos had three receivers to the left, in part forcing the Vikings to have only six men in the box. Lynch’s post handoff action forced Bower to stay at home, allowing Freeman to burst through the right side (nice block by Wilkinson). Freeman then made a good cut to make Harris miss at the 13-yard line.

*The Broncos’ first second-half drive should have started with a big play. WR Jordan Leslie was open over the middle, but Lynch threw behind him. Leslie lost his momentum and was held to a seven-yard gain. Throw ahead of Leslie on that play and it’s a big gain. Another missed throw over the middle by Lynch was when he scrambled three yards instead of sliding and looking — he had LaCosse open.

*Kelly’s two touchdown passes. 1. On second-and-9, LaCosse ran into the left flat before turning up field. S Jack Tocho got caught watching the quarterback and didn’t see LaCosse alter his route (36-yard TD). 2. On third-and-11, the Broncos blocked up a six-man pressure and Lindsay easily beat Tocho for a 19-yard TD.

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