Notes and observations from the Broncos’ 42-28 preseason loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday night:
*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.
*Playing time leaders: S Will Parks 61, CB Brendan Langley 57, CB Isaac Yiadom 46, LB Josey Jewell 42 and S Trey Marshall 37.
*Coaches like to use the term “teaching tape.” Well, the first drive for the Broncos’ defense should be called “yelling tape,” as in, “What happened out there?!” RB Latavius Murray gained 20 yards when S Darian Stewart took a bad angle (probably thinking Murray was going to bounce outside) and LB Brandon Marshall missed a tackle seven yards downfield. On the next play, Murray gained 21 yards when Marshall couldn’t get away from FB C.J. Ham. Two plays later, WR Stefon Diggs used a double move (in and up) to beat CB Bradley Roby for a 28-yard catch (nine YAC). The Broncos rushed seven against a seven-man protection and QB Kirk Cousins threw in 2.81 seconds. Diggs capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown catch when he ran a quick slant against rookie CB Isaac Yiadom, who appeared to be flat-footed at the snap, likely preparing for Diggs to run a fade.
*In 17 snaps over the first two drives, the Broncos were in base defense (3DL-4LB-4DB) on five snaps, goal-line for two plays and dime (6DB) for 10 plays. Bradley Chubb was moved between linebacker (nine snaps) and defensive end (six snaps).
*Parks started his productive night when he beat G Danny Isidora to stop RB Mike Boone for two yards. To end the possession, he blitzed unblocked to sack QB Trevor Siemian in 1.62 seconds. The Broncos had seven players at the line of scrimmage and rushed five. Boone flared right to account for blitzing CB Chris Harris, leaving Parks free in the middle.
*The Vikings took a 14-0 lead when WR Stacy Coley, starting from the left slot, set a pick on S Dymonte Thomas, who was assigned to RB Roc Thomas, who ran a wheel route. An easy 13-yard touchdown.
*On Minnesota’s third drive, Yiadom (19 yards) and LB Shaquil Barrett (11 yards) were beat in man coverage. LB Marcus Rush was credited with a sack (3.71 seconds).
*The Vikings’ 78-yard touchdown catch by Thomas was the perfect call against the Broncos’ defensive call. S Jamal Carter blitzed up the middle and when Jewell was sealed out, Thomas had all kinds of running room on the screen pass.
*OLB Jeff Holland went right around LT Storm Norton in 2.53 seconds for a third-quarter sack.
*CB C.J. Smith was beat for a nine-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter when the Broncos blitzed seven (meaning no safety help) and WR Chad Beebe ran a corner route.
*Hang time (in seconds) for Broncos P Marquette King: 3.77, 4.27, 5.32, 4.87, 5.12, 4.64, 4.26.
*Isaiah McKenzie’s 78-yard punt return: Hang time of 4.90 seconds, but the Broncos did a nice job with their initial blocks, allowing McKenzie to be patient before running left. Langley had the key block at the Broncos’ 25yard line.
*Cracraft handled the next punt and not well. The punt dropped and then bounced over Cracraft, resulting in a 23-yard roll.