The Denver Broncos stand at 2-1 through three games of the preseason, with one more game against Arizona before the Broncos open the regular season at home versus the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 5 in a nationally televised debut.
More important than teams' preseason records are the players' performance during these exhibition games.
The Broncos have had their ups-and-downs through the first three-quarters of the preseason.
Denver rebounded to defeat the St. Louis Rams, 27-26, last Saturday, but there were negatives—three turnovers to the Rams' zero—that outweighed the positives.
What are some things that we've learned about the Broncos through three preseason games? Lets find out.
Over the past two games, the Broncos have committed eight turnovers, including losing a whopping five fumbles.
In the Broncos' victory over the Rams, quarterback Brock Osweiler took a snap late in the fourth quarter in what seemed to be the final drive of a winning effort before fumbling it on the exchange.
As impressive as Osweiler's improvement in the passing department has been with a 66 percent passing completed in the preseason, he has also committed three of the Broncos' past six turnovers.
Two other turnovers have been committed by Broncos starting running back Ronnie Hillman.
Denver, we have a turnover problem.
“We worked out at Duke in March or April and I definitely felt like he had more zip on the ball,” Decker said. “I think he’s come back stronger. . . . I think some of those throws that he fits in the holes, you feel a little more zip on it and he is getting it to you quicker.”
One of the few consistent performers for the Broncos through this preseason has been Manning. No big surprise.
The four-time NFL MVP completed 25 of 34 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown with just one interception in one half of work.
It can't be that hard to play running back in a Peyton Manning offense, right?
Well, maybe it is. At least that's the way Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman are making it look.
Hillman has fumbled twice over the past two games, including one that was returned for a touchdown versus the Rams and another at the goal line against the Seahawks.
Ball, on the other hand, hasn't had a problem with turnovers—it's been with blocking and running the football.
Following being benched for a few snaps after missing a key block that led to a huge hit on Manning against Seattle, Ball struggled to run the football versus the Rams, rushing for 43 yards on 14 carries.
Through three preseason games, he has ran for just 80 yards on 25 carries.
That is a problem.
Is there any doubt that the Denver Broncos have the best collection of offensive talent when it pertains to their receiving corps?
Even in the absence of Wes Welker due to injury, the Broncos have put on a show over the past two games with their first-team offense.
In the 27-26 win over the St. Louis Rams, Eric Decker caught six passes while Demaryius Thomas had seven receptions.
Manning passed for 234 yards and completed passes to eight different receivers in the first half alone.
With Decker, Thomas, Welker, Julius Thomas, Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen to throw to, it'll be a headache for defenses just to game-plan for the Broncos.
The Denver Broncos have been such a hot-and-cold team this preseason that every time they do something well, they do something that makes you shake your head.
Special teams' blunders were the theme for a second straight week.
A week after allowing a TD kickoff return of 107 yards at Seattle, the Broncos allowed St. Louis Rams rookie Tavon Austin to go 88 yards on a punt return to the Broncos' 3-yard line.
The Broncos also had a field goal attempt blocked.
Special teams' miscues on one or two plays in a game are the difference between winning and losing in the NFL.
As hyped as the Denver Broncos may be and as talented as their roster is, there are many holes and weaknesses that this team has entering the regular season, including:
- They have too many turnovers.
- Special teams remain a problem.
- No running back has emerged as a go-to guy.
- The Broncos still need to figure out how to replace Von Miller's production for six weeks during his league suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
The Broncos may be Super Bowl favorites in the preseason, but that does not mean the Vince Lombardi Trophy will come easily.
How do you replace 18 sacks and the overall production of a Von Miller on defense?
By mixing it up with creativity.
In the Broncos' first game after finding out Miller would be suspended for the first six games of the season due to violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, Denver mixed it up with a variety of delayed blitz looks.
Frequently against the Rams, the Broncos ran many delayed and timed blitzes with safeties creeping up at the line of scrimmage.
If there was ever a time for Jack Del Rio to show off his defensive coaching prowess, it's now.
Denver Broncos featured columnist Jon Heath had an article from a couple of weeks ago titled, Is Brock Osweiler really the Denver Broncos' heir apparent to Peyton Manning?.
Well, he obviously isn't right now.
Although Osweiler has made strides in his sophomore season when it comes to passing the football, boneheaded mistakes such as the fumble against the Rams and a terrible interception late against the Seahawks while threatening in the red zone remind you of Osweiler's inexperience.
It's probably a good thing that the Arizona State product will have to wait another couple of years before he has to worry about being Manning's true 'heir apparent'.