Last night kicked off the Denver Broncos preseason debut. They hosted the Minnesota Vikings in a game full of headlines. Between the showdown of Case Keenum and Kirk Cousins, the look of the new Broncos offense, and the return of Trevor Siemian back to the Mile High City; there was a lot to take in. During the game, emotions mixed from joy to sadness to questioning what was going on. Here are some impressions from the first preseason game that’s in the books for the Broncos.
1. Case Keenum and the starting offense is rusty
When Keenum took the field last night with the starting offense, there were high expectations for them to come out firing. However this was not the case, and Keenum only played one series which was a 3 and out. On that series, he only completed one pass for five yards. There are two things worth noting here, however, this was against last years top defense in the league, and thankfully it was only preseason. Fans can rest easy knowing that there’s still time for the offense to work out the kinks and get firing on all cylinders.
2. Paxton Lynch looks to be on the way out of Denver
After Case Keenum played the first series, it was Paxton Lynch’s time to prove he should be the backup quarterback. He completely disappointed. His very first pass was an interception. Later in the game on two separate 3rd down situations; he didn’t pull the trigger on wide open targets down the field and caused the team to have to punt. It’s mistakes like this that will probably call a close to Lynch’s time in Denver and see him either get traded to another team or cut when the roster is trimmed down. Lynch is entering his 3rd year and he needs to make those calls and should know what to do by now while on the field. The fact that he’s continuing to make the same mistakes since he was a rookie show that he’s most likely headed out. This is a shame for a guy who was a first-round draft pick a few years ago and has so many physical abilities.
3. Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay look to have made their spot on the roster for sure
To start the first series, Devontae Booker took the field and played with Keenum and the 1’s. Once Lynch and the 2’s came out, Royce Freeman joined them. He started out strong and was looking good. He really shined on a handoff from Lynch and took it into the end zone to give Denver its first touchdown of the night. If he keeps playing like he did last night, he could very well be the team’s physical pound-the-rock type of back. As a 3rd round selection and all time leading rusher for the Oregon Ducks, Freeman looks like a hungry rookie wanting to be the next Kareem Hunt and become the starter for this Broncos offense.
Phillip Lindsay, however, came to the Broncos a different way. He was undrafted out of Colorado and was even a long shot to make the team. This all changed during OTA’s and training camp. Every day he’s impressing players and coaches alike with his speed and skills as a returner and runner. Last night Lindsay did very well as a returner and showed why he should be on this team when Chad Kelly hit him on a pass that he took in for a touchdown. Lindsay has all but solidified his spot on the offense and special teams.
4. Chad Kelly is the real deal
Chad Kelly, known as “Mr. Irrelevant” because the Broncos took him with the very last pick in the draft; showed the world why the Broncos were smart to pick him and why he belongs on this team. He definitely leapfrogged Paxton Lynch last night on the depth chart as the backup quarterback. Although he and Paxton both threw interceptions, Kelly was able to come back and throw two separate touchdown passes.
Kelly showed patience in the pocket and was able to be calm enough to complete his throws; sometimes just getting the pass off before getting hit. An example of this, was when Kelly hit running back Lindsay for a touchdown and was hit right after. As crazy as it seems, watching Kelly play last night, he appeared to be a veteran player compared to how Lynch performed. There’s still lots of time left before the roster is set. Chad certainly lit it up last night and had former and current players talking on social media about his performance.
Last night was the first step in figuring out what sort of team the Denver Broncos will be this upcoming season. Some players shined while others didn’t. Some other players who didn’t get mentioned were Isaiah Mckenzie for his punt return touchdown and Jeff Holland and Josey Jewell for their work on defense last night. Next week the Broncos face off against the Chicago Bears. It will be interesting to see who makes improvements and who steps up when they’re needed.
Until next time, keep calm and Bronco On!