Time to hit the road.
The Los Angeles Rams are headed to the Rockies to face the Denver Broncos tomorrow night. To get a sense of what the Rams are up against, I linked up with sadaraine from Mile High Report, the SB Nation community for Broncos fans.
Quarterback battles! Yay! We've both got interesting situations at QB prodded by first-round rookies from the 2016 NFL Draft. How did Trevor Siemian leapfrog to the front of the line? What's your sense of when Paxton Lynch gets the reins?
The short answer is that Mark Sanchez is Mark Sanchez and even with a tried and true offensive system and a coach who will make the offense simple he is still prone to turnovers. Siemian's big advantage coming into this year is that he has been with the team for a year and is familiar with the language, scheme, and concepts behind what [Broncos Head Coach Gary] Kubiak likes to do.
The other piece to Siemian's story is that there really hasn't been a ton of pressure on him. We have a 1st round draft pick this year and a veteran that everyone expects is the bridge for 2016. All Siemian has to do is play football and that is easy when the spotlight isn't shining very bright.
Many of us at MHR think Lynch is going to take the reigns sooner rather than later. I'm a big eye-test guy and he's squarely the most talented QB on the roster according to what I've seen from the three QBs so far. The only question with Lynch is one of knowledge...can he handle the complex schemes he'd see in a regular season game? That is the only thing holding him back.
So, third preseason game. Cuts to the 75-man coming next week. Let's jump to the second half. Who are the bubble candidates that need to show up big in the third and fourth quarters? What are the roster battles we're going to see play out in the final 30 minutes of football?
We will start with rookie punter Riley Dixon. Britton Colquitt is on a pretty expensive contract for a NFL punter who is mediocre in production. Dixon needs to really show the team his goods to make it easy for them to cut the extra cost and go young.
Sanchez also is someone I'm going to throw in here. His stock has fallen far, and it is actually a possibility that the team could cut him if he doesn't give them some good tape to work with that shows them he's worth a spot on the team.
The big battles we'll see in the 2nd half are largely centered on the WR position for Denver. I'd say our roster is already set outside of 1 or 2 guys. WR is a spot where the guys are fighting to show they are worth being on the practice squad or playing special teams. Kalif Raymond, Bralon Addison, Durron Neal, and Mose Frazier are all duking / derping it out to find spot on the team.
Who are the surprise candidates for you guys so far? What UDFAs look like they could make the roster?
We've been surprised with some really good showing from DT Kyle Peko, TE Henry Krieger-Coble, and ILB Zaire Anderson. Peko keeps flashing solid play in the middle and has stood out both in camp and in preseason as a stout lineman. Krieger-Coble catches everything thrown his way though the coaches are questioning his size. Anderson looks like a prime play-maker in the middle of the field and has been impactful in both preseason games so far with forced fumbles and great tackling.
This year's UDFAs that are having great camps include both Peko and Krieger-Coble as well as DE Eddie Yarbrough and OLB Vontarrius Dora. They may not make the 53, but I'm expecting all of these players to be on the practice squad or get picked up by another team.
Defensively, you guys were stellar in 2015. You re-signed Von Miller. You kept the No Fly Zone intact. Your second- and third-round picks in this last draft went toward the defense. Can you guys meet the bar you set in 2015 again defensively?
Absolutely. A lot of hype has surrounded the loss of both Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan this offseason, but I think NFL fans miss the boat when they look too closely at the players on the 2015 Denver Broncos. It is the fantastic coaching by Wade Phillips that makes this defense go PAIRED with the immense talent found all over the Bronco defensive depth chart.
Phillips does not take players and make them run his scheme. He takes his scheme and adjusts it to make the best use of his players. Whatever weaknesses the unit has, he will scheme around it to put our guys in the best position in which to succeed.
We've got Todd Davis who looks poised to step up and start at ILB. At RDE we've drafted a long term answer in Adam Gotsis and brought in Jared Crick in the meantime from Houston to bolster the line talent as well as more recently signed free agent Henry Melton.
The pass rush is still going to be amazing. There is no secondary in the NFL that I would take over the No Fly Zone. This defense is ready to continue its story in 2016. They can still be a dominating force. They just have to continue to execute.
Big picture. You guys did it. You brought in Peyton, you came up short in 2013 and then made it back to pull off the storybook ending for his career. Not suggesting you guys don't want to win or that there shouldn't be demands put on the franchise, but how much does 2016 really matter in the context of longevity? Five years from now when you look back, the Super Bowl, having legitimized the build up to it, win will drown out whatever comes in these next few seasons. What's the mentality among the fan base? Is the euphoria of winning still overshadowing the coming season?
The fan base is hungry for more. We want to see the next step and Denver fans are honestly pretty famous for having "entitled expectations." We have a good problem as fans of the Denver Broncos: a long standing history of success in the league. Since Pat Bowlen took over ownership of the franchise, we've only had 5 losing season (30+ years).
I don't think we expect a repeat, but we see that that possibility is absolutely on the horizon. The team, its management, coaches, and players are focused on being champions. It is the Broncos way and it is part of why our fans love this team.
When you look closely at our blog members though, you will see the gambit: fans who want more now, fans who are basking in the glow of last year still (I fall in this category), and fans who just love the here and now.
Thanks to sadaraine for the time.