It was a beautiful day in Denver. A scorching 90 degree heat bath, a steady warmth that has evaded Coloradans for much of the summer. Nearly 40,000 people showed up for a Denver Broncos intra-squad scrimmage, where the first string offense faced off with the second string defense and vice versa.
Much of what unfolded was as expected. A fair share of dust was knocked of, several critical starters were held out for precautionary purposes, and passionate fans showed the Broncos exactly how excited they were for the return of real football.
Unfortunately, that is not all that went as expected. The first-string offense started the scrimmage against the second-string defense and easily marched down the field on two separate occasions for drives of 65 and 48 yards respectively. Outside of an obvious missed play call by Ronnie Hillman that resulted in an ugly, mistimed pass attempt, Peyton Manning appeared poised to pick up exactly where they left off a year ago.
No surprises there. But when Brock Osweiler took the field to take on the first-string defense, alongside his second-string offense, my previously concealed concern slowly began to surface.
Sure, there were a couple of successful pass rushes and some exotic defensive schemes that obviously confused Osweiler, but he was still able to finish the series 3-3, for 33 yards and one impressive touchdown to former Arizona State teammate Gerrell Robinson.
Even more concerning was the way the first-string defense allowed C.J. Anderson to shred them to pieces, picking up 25 yards on three carries. That doesn’t bode well for a revamped and supposedly more stout defense.
Word out of camp so far is that the defense has been dominant, clearly the more impressive of the two units. They have been flying around, talking trash, and being aggressive in ways that Broncos fans didn’t see a year ago.
However, during the first somewhat meaningful football of the season, they disappeared. It will be interesting to see how they come out against the Seattle Seahawks this Thursday night. If they play anything like they did during their annual scrimmage, it will be a long night, and even more importantly, a long and eerily familiar season.
John Elway saw the deficiencies on this team from a year ago, put his money where his mouth was, and pulled all the strings available to him to strengthen the defensive side of the ball. Now it’s time for the defense to show the world that they aren’t the soft, malleable unit they are being called. Not off to a good start though.