Broncos vs. Raiders Monday Night Football: What We Learned from the Game
It was nowhere near the poundings from last year, but almost equally as frustrating, considering the Broncos had themselves in a position to take the lead in the fourth quarter.
Turnovers and mistakes led to a tough loss for the fans at Sports Authority Field at Mile High to watch.
Still, it is one of six learning opportunities for a rebuilding team to grow from.
Here are a few things that we learned.
The Defense Is Better, but Still Not There
The Denver Broncos entered opening night boasting a revamped pass rush that was being buzzed about around the NFL.
It was much improved from last year, but it did not play as much of a role in the game due to the Raiders run game.
This should not be a huge surprise, as the injuries to Marcus Thomas, Ty Warren and DJ Williams are undoubtedly going to cause problems against the run.
Even though Von Miller was solid in all facets of the game, his true value comes in the pass rush. Until the Broncos can become at least consistent against the run, Miller will not be able to reach his full potential like Clay Matthews has.
The Running Game Is Way Behind the Raiders
The Denver Broncos gave no reason to believe that the rushing attack would be much improved during the preseason, and that trend continued Monday night.
Knowshon Moreno was not able to find any room to explode, and Willis McGahee was not given the opportunity to grind away and help suck in the defense to make the pass game more effective.
The offensive line is not big enough and physical enough to push around defensive linemen, and they are still too young to know how to find ways around that problem with technique.
This Broncos offensive line and rushing attack has a long way to go before it can even be deemed proficient. It is even further before it can be in a class with the Raiders at the moment.
Denver Is a Kicker's Paradise
Okay, so most people already knew that. However, one has to wonder whether Tom Dempsey deserves an asterisk next to his name in the record books for longest field goal.
That is not a knock on Dempsey, actually it's a compliment. Isn't it more impressive that, of the three men to hit a 63-yard field goal, he did it outside of Denver?
This kick was impressive, but Janikowski was not the only man in the stadium who could have hit that distance. Matt Prater easily has the leg, and may get a chance to match or eclipse the feat before season's end.
Still, Janikowski deserves respect, because having the leg is not the only thing needed to make a kick like that.
Knowshon Moreno Is Better out of the Backfield
Was anybody impressed by Moreno on interior rushing plays?
Nobody would question his desire or willingness to tote the rock inside, but he is simply electric on the outside.
Get him the ball on swing passes, screens and tosses and watch him make big plays for you; let McGahee and Lance Ball run the ball inside.
Kyle Orton Needs to Be Better
It could have been the weather, or the lack of offensive flow due to the amount of flags in the game. Either way, Kyle Orton is going to face better secondaries this year and needed to play better in order to instill confidence in the Broncos faithful.
He seemed erratic in the pocket and errant on some throws—not the calm presence that should be expected from a quarterback who is "in command" of his offense.
Everyone is entitled to a tough game, and Orton is no different. An admirable effort on the last touchdown drive proved to be too little, too late.
Still, the marquee quarterbacks of the league came out and delivered on opening weekend. Can Orton truly say the same?
The Rivalry May Be Back in Full
From the opening kickoff, there was extra-curricular activity all over the field.
The current Broncos roster consists of guys who are not happy about what happened against the Raiders last year—and who can blame them?
The Broncos are trying to recapture the "Mile High Magic," and a win against the Raiders would have been huge.
Still, the fans saw some progress by keeping it closer with the Raiders, and it doesn't appear that the Broncos will be in the running for Andrew Luck just yet.