It sure wasn’t pretty, but a 10-6 win for the Denver Broncos over the San Francisco 49ers in their first preseason game left plenty to be positive about nonetheless. Denver came out of the contest injury-free, which is goal no. 1 for any team in any preseason game. The Broncos were also a healthy plus-four in the turnover column without conceding any of their own — good things in August to be sure.
What made this victory extra special was the players’ attitude during post-game interviews. All the Broncos players wanted to focus on were the areas on which to improve, either individually or as a team.
Many players stood out for the Broncos. Tight end Julius Thomas — who led the team in receptions and yards — mostly wanted to discuss the things that didn’t go right.
Blocking has been a concern for Thomas, so naturally he was excited to spring running back C.J. Anderson for a big gain.”I just don’t want to be one dimensional, so when I get a chance to help our running backs make big plays, that’s something that will make you feel good going back to the huddle.” Thomas continued focusing on things other than his production.
“I think I had a good game today, but I think it’s more about continuously sustaining it. It can’t be an on one week off the next type thing.”
This not only shows maturity in the young tight end, but it shows that he fully understands what he needs to do in order to become a good player in this league. That line of thinking didn’t stop with Thomas.
Safety Duke Ihenacho, who has been lights-out in training camp, led the Broncos in tackles with seven against the 49ers. That’s a ton of tackles for a preseason game. Ihenacho, whom Champ Bailey called “a beast”, only wanted to discuss the areas of his game that need improvement, and would have nothing to do with his stellar defensive output.
Brock Osweiler finished 13-for-18 for 105-yards and no scores, but looked much improved in his play and certainly more accurate. Osweiler gave all the credit to his teammates. “Julius was a beast tonight”, gleamed the second-year quarterback.
You’re starting to see a pattern here. These Broncos, with their successes, are simply not satisfied. Young players who are fighting for jobs normally would be basking in whatever glory they can get, but instead they are taking cue from the veteran leadership on the team and looking at the big picture.
This is what having a Bailey and a Peyton Manning will do for a team. Their leadership bleeds on down the locker room and infects everyone.
This is the type of mentality championship teams have.