Sunday, August 10, 2008

Preseason Football: Denver @ Houston: Observations

Please accept my sincerest apologies for being absent. Unless you'd like to field some questions on The Iliad, let's get to the first Bronco game of '08.


Jay Cutler: 8-10-0, 60 yds, 1 att, 15 yds TD.
Patrick Ramsey: 8-13-2, 49 yds.
Darrell Hackney:5-8-0, 68 yds, 1 att, 16 yds.

Had Jay Cutler played the whole game, Denver victory. What do you want in a backup? A game manager or a guy who can make plays? Darrell Hackney is making a case for the latter. In the event Patrick Ramsey disappears from the roster, he might be going on a secret mission for the CIA; into Iran to overthrow the Ayatollah (who is always wide open).

Running Backs:

Andre Hall: 8 att, 45 yds, 5.6 avg., 1 rec, 0 yds
Anthony Alridge: 3 att, 20 yds, 6.7 avg, F (FR by Polumbus) 3 rec, 21 yds
Micheal Pittman: 6 att, 18 yds, 3 avg, 1 rec, 5 yds
Selvin Young: 4 att, 7 yds, 2 rec, 21 yds.

This would appear to be the committee. Their success is symbiotic with the offensive line which is brand new. Selvin Young and Andre Hall both ran behind 1st team offensive although I didn't notice if Hall was up against Houston's first-team defense the whole time. Ian predicted the emergence of Andre Hall [editors note: fist pump]. Anthony Alridge is super fast and Michael Pittman is tough inside and a capable receiver. Peyton Hillis needs to get well soon. Selvin Young needs to step up.

Wide Receivers & Tight Ends:

Tony Scheffler: 4 rec, 61 yds
Darrell Jackson: 3 rec, 18 yds
Eddie Royal: 2 rec, 13 yds
Nate Jackson: 1 rec, 11 yds
Samie Parker: 1 rec, 10 yds
Brandon Marshall: 2 rec, 8 yds
Daniel Graham: 1 rec, 7 yds

A wide receiver who didn't catch a pass, but made a big play was Cliff Russell who drew pass interference at the +3 giving the Broncos a scoring opportunity in the 4th quarter. He is still very fast as he was at Utah. Eddie Royal looked good. Tony Scheffler is a big part of the passing game as he has always proven to be. Darrell Jackson wasn't used effectively which is a coaching flaw, not his. Keary Colbert drew a pass interference penalty, too, but was otherwise ineffective. It's a good group of receivers who can give Jay Cutler a variety of players to whom to throw.

Offensive Line:

The starting line which played the first half has essentially two rookie tackles (i.e., the Ryans). Houston's upstart defensive lineman Mario Williams pushed Ryan Clady around which was a good experience for Clady. Ryan Harris drew four penalties only two of which he deserved. The illegal formation one could have as easily been given to the other Ryan or the guards. One holding call was a bogus flag thrown by a guy on the sideline who was seeing things. The false start and one holding were deserved. Not too bad; nothing that can't be fixed. In the event Montrae Holland returns and starts and Chris Kuper returns to right tackle, Ryan Harris is definitely the #6 offensive lineman. Casey Wiegmann did a good job as did Ben Hamilton. These guys need chemistry and that will only come with playing together. Stay tuned for what happens with Tom Nalen whose injuries are nagging him to the extent he is sidelined. Depth is good.

Special Teams:

Matt Prater was 3 of 4 on field goal attempts. His kickoffs mostly came down at the +5 to the goal line. Sam Paulescu's one punt was fielded 52 yards from the LOS and was returned. Brett Kern's one punt was fielded 42 yards from the line of scrimmage with more hang time and wasn't returned. Both held for extra points and field goal attempts. Eddie Royal had two kick off returns for 47 yds, Clifford Russell had one for 27, Anthony Aldridge one for 24 and Andre Hall one for 20. Glenn Martinez fielded one punt for two yards. The leading special teams tackler was Wesley Woodyard with three including the stop on Matt Turk who tried to advance a punt attempt for a first down and came up one yard short; ball over to Denver on downs-big play. Clifford Russell had two special teams tackles, and Michael Pittman forced a fumble which Cecil Sapp recovered.


The only sack was shared by linebacker Jordan Beck and defensive tackle Steven Harris. There were no picks. Boss Bailey injured his bad ankle and his backup, Louis Green, injured his neck and suffered a concussion. The Broncos are extremely lucky to have Jamie Winborn who switched from DJ Williams backup to first team strong side linebacker and did a great job. That put Jordan Beck as DJ Williams backup where he played as weak side linebacker during the second half. Nate Webster had one tackle and two assists and a flying helmet. Niko Koutouvides and Spencer Larsen each had four assists. The most outstanding starter was Domonique Foxworth with three solo and two assists including a 5 yd tackle for loss. He is making his case. The defense was without DeWayne Robertson and Champ Bailey and very quickly lost Boss and Louis. The interior defensive line played well with Kenny Peterson logging two solos and Marcus Thomas had one. The defensive ends need to step up. I expect some shuffling/experimenting there. Ebenezer Ekuban had two solos and two assists and an offsides penalty.

The second teamers in the second half produced the leading tacklers:
Josh Barrett: 7 solo and 6 assists
Jordan Beck: 5 solo, 3 assists, 1/2 sack
Wesley Woodyard: 5 solo, 1 assist
LaMont Reid and Christian Morton had 4 solos each with the latter including a 7 yd sack.

Josh Barrett's detractors have described him as looking like Tarzan and playing like Jane. If so, Jane had a hearty meal of roast Texan Saturday night which was fresh-kill. He was in the box, often lining up over the TE in a 9 tech on the line of scrimmage. Having heard nothing about Wesley Woodyard from training camp reports, he suddenly exploded during the game making big plays on special teams and defense. On running plays these two totally attack the line of scrimmage. Josh Barrett came down the line of scrimmage several times and I didn't even notice him until he was the last guy to get up from the bottom of the pile. I had to pause the DVR and advance it one click at a time just to figure out where he came from. Wesley Woodyard and Josh Barrett also have great speed for guys their size. They seem to work well with Spencer Larsen and Jordan Beck. The linebacker depth and Jim Ryan's great coaching was very much in need and it all came through.

I expect to see more from the Broncos in next week's game with the Dallas Cowboys besides the vanilla O & D which they showed ... except not during practice ... with Dallas, that is.

CBS Channel 4 in Denver gets a C+/B- and an A for effort. The box guys need binoculars ... or bifocals. The director needs more monitors and helpers and to stop showing graphics instead of THE PLAY WE'RE MISSING. Also, how about more replays? But, hey, thanks for broadcasting the game. Do it again ... please?

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