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Broncos Preseason: Takeaways From Game One (And Game Ball Award)

The Broncos took on the Dallas Cowboys to kick off their 2022 preseason. We learned a couple of things about the Broncos’ depth Saturday night. It’s tough to evaluate the preseason, but there are definitely a few things to take from the 17-7 victory.

Broncos head coach, Nathaniel Hackett, has already stated in press conferences after training camp practice that his number one goal is to keep the team as healthy as possible for week one. We saw that first hand when only two starters were on the field; Calvin Anderson RT and Jonas Griffith ILB. Unfortunately, the big news of the night from that front was on the second play of the game when Griffith suffered a dislocated elbow that will have him sidelined for four to six weeks.

That is somewhat of good news as it initially looked as if he might be out a few more weeks. He is a young player who needs work, which is why he was in the game in the first place. However, when considering such little depth at the linebacker position it brings questions of why he was on the field if priority number one is to stay healthy.

Hackett has taken this approach all training camp drawing some attention from former players about how light the practices have been. Preseason is definitely a tough time to navigate through, especially for a first-time head coach. Personally, I like the approach he has taken. As much as Broncos Country would love to see at least one series from the starters; Hackett most likely will not be putting any more solid starters on the field this preseason. Here are key takeaways from the preseason’s first game.

Broncos’ Offense Couldn’t Run The Ball, But Passing Game Was On

The first quarter was a struggle for the offensive unit as a whole. A three-and-out occurred on the first possession for the Broncos. Calvin Anderson at the right tackle was the only starter playing for the offense. He looked solid but that was going up against most of the Cowboys’ backups. Two three and outs in a row started the game for the offense, not picking up any rhythm during those six plays. Finally, on the third drive, the offense got going with some nice connections from quarterback Josh Johnson to his receivers but ultimately ended on a blown-up play on fourth and two.

The second quarter was the best quarter for the offense all night. Johnson continued to make completions and finished a drive with a touchdown to wide receiver Seth Williams to put the Broncos up by seven. The running game continued to struggle though, seeing little gains on the ground. The Broncos marched right down the field for another passing touchdown from Johnson to Kendall Hinton for 24 yards.

Arguably the most impressive part of the second quarter for the offense had to be the two-minute drill to end the half. This drive showed smart clock management from Denver as the team controlled their timeouts and called plays that would be successful for the situation. It ended with a 52-yard field goal from McManus to go into the half.

Broncos’ Second Half Shouldn’t Create Concern Among Fans

The second half saw no Broncos touchdowns, but there were still some good things to take away from it. Quarterback Brett Rypien came into the game and, just like Johnson, had a slow start. A few drives in he started to string some big completions together. None of the drives came together to put points on the board. Wideout Jalen Virgil had some nice grabs for big yardage. The running game continued to struggle, however, finishing the night with a rough 1.8 yards per rush.

Overall, Johnson looked like the team’s best option as a backup quarterback while Rypien was slow on delivering the ball. He was late on a couple of throws and was not able to finish in the red zone. Lots of Broncos Country had worries immediately following the game but my message to them is: it is preseason football. It is going to take time and it will look sloppy when it is a new staff and the starters aren’t on the field. It is something to keep an eye on but should not be something to be majorly concerned about.

A Solid Broncos Defense Against An Undisciplined Offense

While the defense held Dallas to zero points all the way until four minutes left in the game, they took the biggest punch in the mouth two plays into the game. Linebacker Jonas Griffith went down in immediate pain holding his arm. From then on it was mostly good play after a good play for the defense the whole game. That wasn’t the only story though. The Dallas offense was penalized a ridiculous 17 times in the game.

The first big play was made by cornerback P.J. Locke, who intercepted a poorly thrown ball. It was a relatively easy pick by where the ball was placed, but it was still encouraging to see the catch made. Baron Browning had a coming-out party in the first half with a batted-down pass getting right in the face of the QB and later sacking him.

The defense as a whole had constant pressure on whoever was in at quarterback for the Cowboys all night long. For as many penalties the Cowboys accumulated the Broncos had solid defensive plays. Linebacker Justin Strnad stepped up nicely into his role making several tackles after Griffith went down.

The Broncos Game Ball Goes To A New Face For The 2022 Season

My game ball goes to head coach Nathaniel Hackett for getting his first win in the Mile High City. Obviously, it was a preseason game, but to get any win as a head coach is difficult. To do it in front of the home fans and show knowledge of game clock management at the end of the first half was huge compared to what Broncos Country has been watching the past few years.

His game plan of trying to keep starters healthy is also a smart move as well, it was very unfortunate for Griffith to go down as one of the two starters playing in the game. Congratulations go to Hackett on the first preseason win. We will have to wait for his first regular-season win which hopefully will be on 9/12 against the Seahawks.

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