Okay, training camp officially ended this week and the second game-that-doesn't-really-count-but-still-cost-as-much-as-a-real-game was played Saturday night with the Lions scrubs winning in the final minutes 25-20. Pretty, this game was not.
But it was also supposed to blow away some of the clouds swarming around the Denver Broncos Version 2010. Let's see what we learned from this exercise.
What We Learned No. 1: The Detroit Lions starting Defensive Front Four are B E A S T S.
Especially that guy named Suh! He pushed the middle of Denver's O-line around like blocking sleds on roller skates much of the first half. Double and triple teaming only seemed to make him mad.
So what I took away from this was that with two rookies and a few other partial pieces plugged in, this line needs some SERIOUS improvement if Denver really expects to win more than five games in the regular season. But with Ryan Clady and Chris Kuper back and a chance for some stability at the other positions, things will start to improve (fingers crossed).
What We Learned No. 2: With the best two options at running back missing in action, there is no running game there.
Even though a few longer runs were made, there wasn't much of a running threat to slow down the aforementioned Suh and his fellow Cornhusker dude, Kyle Vanden Bosch. Lance Ball (??) cost Orton an interception but did make up for it with a touchdown, this as a receiver, not as a runner. Justin Fargas can play in spots but not as a No. 1 back.
What We Learned No. 3: Denver's defense wasn't much of a force, either the starting 11 or the rest of them.
Granted, Champ Bailey and DJ Williams were out, but there still wasn't a feel of the nastiness I expected from this group, including Brian Dawkins. I kind of got the feeling he was mailing this one in at times. I did like what I saw in flashes from Robert Ayers and Jarvis Moss trying to make up for Elvis Dumervil being out of the building.
But the rest of the defensive depth chart looked AWFUL! It is clear there can't be many more injuries to the staring group if Denver wants to hold their opponents to under 40 points.
What We Learned No. 4: Denver's receiving corps will be just fine post-Marshall, thanks for asking.
Jabar Gaffney had a career night in one half with six catches and 98 yards. He showed he could get open, make the tough catches and had a solid chemistry with Orton. Rookie receiver Eric Decker proved that there is some magic in that old No. 87, as he did his best impression of the last great to wear that shirt, Eddie McCaffrey. He ran routes like a veteran, showed some speed and finished with five catches for 66 years.
And tight end Marquis Branson did a decent impression of that guy on the Lions side (Tony Scheffler, who was booed by his ex-home team fans) by catching three for 20 YDS and a nifty touchdown.
What We Learned No. 5: Kyle Orton is STILL the starting quarterback (16-22, 177 yards, 1 INT, 2 TD).
He showed poise, some mobility, a good arm, and an even better field awareness, all this behind a makeshift line. Any questions?
What We Learned No. 5: KCNC Channel 4 has the crappiest set of announcers and analysts in the nation. They are a true embarrassment! Gary "Fumblemouth" Miller, Vic Lombardi, and that weird sideline dude made me want to vomit.
What We Didn't Learn No. 1: Will Quinn ever be ready for prime time?
Even though he had an okay set of statistics (11 -17, 98 yards) with no interceptions, he was three-and-out his first four series. That ain't gonna get it done. Will he get better? We seem to ask that question every week and still don't get an answer. One of my biggest concerns was his lack of leadership and comfort running this offense.
What We Didn't Learn No. 2: Can Don "Wink" Martindale be a successful defensive coordinator?
Granted, he followed in very large footsteps replacing Mike Nolan, who turned this defense around in one season, but I wasn't impressed with much of what I saw last night. The jury is still out on this one.
Since he didn't suit up due to some sore ribs he received last week being introduced to how this game is played by the Big Boys in Cincy, we don't know any more than we did before. But one thing we did learn was that with him out, there were more than a few fans that showed up as empty seats last night. So much for die-hard Bronco fans, I guess.
All in all, an interesting look that answered some questions but left a lot more for next week's version of "Hold a scrimmage under lights with overpriced beer and brats and they will still pay $75 a seat" against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Oh, and we get to listen to Channel 4's imitation of Dumb, Dumber, and Dumbest...again.