Five things we learned from the Broncos’ 42-28 preseason loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday (Non-Quarterback Dept.):
1. Vance Joseph should not set a limit on playing time against Chicago.
On two occasions last week, Joseph said the Broncos’ starters would play two possessions “max” against Minnesota. He did not stray from that plan even though the offense went three-and-out twice and the defense gave up three plays of at least 20 yards on their first possession.
Against Chicago, Joseph should keep the starters on the field until he feels like they’ve accomplished something. Takes them into the second quarter? So what.
Yes, it’s about staying healthy for the regular season, but for a team as lousy as the Broncos were last year (5-11), it’s about completely wiping that away instead of struggling this month, which would retrigger thoughts of 2017.
2. Isaac Yiadom will benefit from Saturday’s game.
Yiadom served as the Broncos’ third cornerback with the starting group and played regularly into the second half. His 46 snaps were third-most, behind safety Will Parks (61) and cornerback Brendan Langley (57).
We booked Yiadom for allowing five completions in man coverage on five attempts — plays of 6, 1 (touchdown), 19, 11 and 0 yards.
“He didn’t make a ton (of plays), but that’s a good start for a young corner, to be in position to make a play,” Joseph said. “Obviously, he’s got to finish those plays, but I was pleased to see him play with good technique.”
The key for Yiadom moving forward is remembering how he played in the first two weeks of camp — physical-jam-at-the-line, get-the-receiver-off-this-timing. On Stefon Diggs’ touchdown, Yiadom didn’t make contact as Diggs ran his quick slant. It was an easy pitch-and-catch score.
3. Defensive coordinator Joe Woods called a pressure you should use a lot.
We charted the Broncos rushing at least five players on 11 of Minnesota’s 37 dropbacks (29.7 percent). The Broncos’ three sacks came on five-, five- and four-man pressures.
Woods should be showing a lot of pressures in the preseason to give Seattle (Week 1) and Oakland (Week 2) extra things to prepare for. And the Broncos have the players to blitz.
Parks’ sack on the Vikings’ second possession was a good example. The Broncos showed seven players at the line of scrimmage. At the snap, Chris Harris blitzed from the right slot, linebackers Brandon Marshall and Bradley Chubb dropped into coverage. Harris rushing from the edge got the attention of tailback Mike Boone. That allowed Parks to blitz the “A” gap (between the guard and center) untouched.
Quarterbacks hate every kind of pass rush, but especially the interior pressure. The Broncos should continue to emphasize the “A” gap blitzes.
4 Chubb got off to a good start.
Chubb began the game by playing defensive end because of the Broncos’ personnel package (six defensive backs/one linebacker). Six of his 15 snaps were on the line.
Two plays stood out: On second-and-goal from the 1, Chubb knifed inside and under tight end Kyle Rudolph’s block attempt to stop Latavius Murray for no gain. And on one play, Chubb retreated in coverage and looked comfortable.
5. Four non-marquee names stood out.
OT Elijiah Wilkinson. He received first-team right tackle snaps at practice last week and played with the second-team offense Saturday. We liked what he did. He made several good seal blocks in the run game, and the only time he got in trouble in pass protection was when a Vikings player he wasn’t blocking stepped on his foot.
Parks. Entering camp, we thought Su’a Cravens would be the dime safety. But Parks took the initial snap in practice and hasn’t loosened his grip. He had five tackles against the Vikings and gives the Broncos options in how they use Darian Stewart and Justin Simmons.
DL Shelby Harris. Had three tackles playing against Minnesota’s backup offensive line, but it was impressive how he tossed around several blockers.
ILB Josey Jewell. Got into the fray defending the run and finished with five tackles.