Some observations after re-watching the Broncos-Bears preseason game on Channel 20.
*Let’s get right to it. I’m surprised there is still a competition for the starting quarterback job. Because the game still seems to be moving too fast for Paxton Lynch, the Broncos should start Trevor Siemian against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 11.
I keep thinking the Broncos can get more from Siemian than what he’s delivered last season and so far this year during the offseason, training camp and through the first 1 ½ quarters against the Bears.
You’d like to see more 12- to 15-yard passes from Siemian than 5- to 8-yard completions. But his short completions are putting him ahead of Lynch, who is in a quick-slant-to-his-first-progression-or-take-off-running habit.
Lynch does run well. He has very good zip on the ball. He is not a bust. He just needs more time to survey the field while 21 other guys are running around at the same time. Lynch has to process the play quicker. Easy for me and everyone else to say. But Siemian processes quicker.
*The Bears should start the season with Mike Glennon, but pull him for rookie Mitch Trubisky sooner rather than later.
Glennon’s third-down throw into triple coverage on the third play of the game was horrific. He couldn’t step in to throw because of Broncos’ outside linebacker Kasim Edebali’s outside pass rush that smoked Bears left tackle Charles Leno Jr.
Chris Harris Jr. did a nice job coming off his man to catch the pop-up throw, then showed great speed on the touchdown return.
Edebali has already earned the right to start in place of the injured Shane Ray at right outside linebacker in the regular-season opener.
*I like how Broncos special teams coordinator Brock Olivo had Brandon McManus work on those short, in-play kickoffs. McManus is getting good at the pop-up kicks, too. Olivo’s coverage units, though, need work.
*I’ve already seen enough of referee Walt Anderson for the year. He got more face time than Vance Joseph. Anderson’s crew called 18 penalties for a combined 157 yards and he had a couple other calls waved off with long explanations. The Broncos were flagged for six offensive holding penalties, four that were accepted.
*Jamal Carter is a beast. The undrafted rookie strong safety was given a robust $20,000 ($10,000 in signing bonus; $10,000 in guarantee toward his salary) in 2017 guaranteed money – the highest the Broncos had paid an undrafted college free agent in years.
He had a team-high six tackles, a quarterback hit and a nice recovery on a bouncing, slippery fumble off a bad snap. It appears the Broncos will be keeping five safeties on their 53-man roster: Darian Stewart, T.J. Ward, Justin Simmons, Will Parks and Carter. And the Broncos will probably want to keep another undrafted rookie, Orion Stewart, on their practice squad.
I can’t remember the Broncos ever being this deep at safety.
*Defensive lineman Jared Crick had a nice game, coming up with a pass deflection and quarterback hit in his first two series.
*Running back C.J. Anderson ran well behind right guard Ron Leary and right tackle Menelik Watson. Those two blockers are forces. There wasn’t as much running room behind the left side.
*Umm. We all missed the Broncos’ first three offensive plays: A Siemian sack when the Bears’ Leonard Floyd beat Watson; a 6-yard Anderson run behind Leary and Watson; and an 11-yard completion from Siemian to Demaryius Thomas that converted a third-and-11. I suspect either Watson or Broncos PR for cutting off the feed.
*Brian Griese is outstanding as a color commentator.
*Didn’t like the play-call sequence after Carter recovered the fumble at the Bears’ 47. Run, run and short crossing route completion to Jordan Taylor. Punt. Momentum was lost there.
*Was it me? Or did Rod Mackey have a terrific night as a sideline/postgame interviewer? Puts the likes of Von Miller, Aqib Talib and Demaryius Thomas at ease, then quickly gets down to business.
*Von Miller hasn’t changed since Day 1. He has the exact same personality. Unique but likeable.
*On the play Broncos’ defensive lineman Billy Winn suffered a serious right knee injury – the team fears a torn ACL but he has not yet taken an MRI as of this writing -- he got knocked off the ball by Bears center Cody Whitehair, who was flagged for holding. Winn had his foot planted as he got hit from behind by Bears guard Josh Sitton. Broncos 334-pound defensive tackle Zach Kerr also seemed to get knocked into Winn.
It was the worst moment of the game. Winn is a solid rotational player and a consummate professional and mentor in the locker room.
*Denver’s run defense still needs work. The Bears rushed for 173 yards on 36 carries. Granted, three Trubisky scrambles netted 38 yards. And all those yards were against the Broncos’ second-line defenders. Still, the Broncos will be counting on those second-liners for a handful of plays on Sundays.
*Cody Latimer had a nice game. He finished with seven catches for 54 yards and had one nice gain called back. He made a real tough catch on a slant pattern in traffic on a Siemian pass that was thrown slightly behind him.
*McManus and punter Riley Dixon are on their game.
*Backup center Dillon Day showed chippy aggression, as he twice was involved in offsetting penalties.
*Former Broncos and current Bears’ quarterback Mark Sanchez threw a nice crack-back block on rookie cornerback Bernard Langley during a change-of-direction run by Bennie Cunningham. And on the next play, Sanchez way overthrew a receiver who had a step on a deep route.
*Broncos veteran Stevan Ridley ran hard. Ran well in picking up some tough yards.
*The Bears no longer seem so silly for giving away so much to trade up for Trubisky even though they had already paid top dollar for Glennon. They may seem silly paying top dollar for Glennon, who didn’t look good.
*Broncos third-round rookie receiver Carlos Henderson dropped two kickoffs. He seems tight.
*Lynch had a nice play action pass to Jordan Taylor to start the second half.
*The Broncos’ no. 2 offensive line struggled.
*What was most impressive about Trubisky’s performance was how accurately he threw while rolling right.
*It was curious how the Bears had veteran receivers Rueben Randle and Victor Cruz play with Trubisky in the second half against the Broncos’ undrafted rookie secondary.
*Who is Shakir Soto? The undrafted rookie from Pitt looked good in the middle for the Broncos.
*Kerr, DeMarcus Walker, Lorenza Doss, Vontarrius Dora and Carter played a ton.
*No one told Kalif Raymond he’s not supposed to make the team after the Broncos drafted Carlos Henderson and Isaiah McKenzie. Raymond had a 34-yard punt return, a 41-yard kickoff return, and a 24-yard reception in the Broncos’ final-minute, game-winning touchdown drive.
*Kyle Sloter is actually the Broncos’ fourth-string quarterback. Seventh-round rookie Chad Kelly is the third stringer but he’s hurt. Still, Sloter has moxie and his ability to keep his eyes downfield is why he hit McKenzie on the game-tying 47-yard touchdown pass and Raymond on the 24-yard completion.
Sloter’s best pass was a 15-yard fastball to Marlon Brown on a seam route.
*Sloter’s third pass should have been intercepted. Bears’ safety Chris Prosinski flat dropped it.
*Give Michael Schofield credit. He started the previous two years – at right tackle for the Broncos’ Super Bowl title team in 2015 and right guard last year. It must have been difficult for him to play with the third string at left guard in the fourth quarter.
But Schofield pancaked a Bears defensive tackle to spring rookie De’Angelo Henderson on that game-winning, 41-yard touchdown run. Ron Zappolo came through with an exciting call on the play. Zapp and Griese already seem to have great chemistry.
*Henderson had two nice runs called back by holding.
*The end of the game was bizarre in its sequence. Joseph called a timeout with 2:01 left instead of waiting for the 2-minute warning. I understand the analytical, game-management thought there, even if it was unique. It would have looked smart had Sloter not got sacked between 2:01 and the 2-minute warming, a loss that knocked the Broncos out of field goal range.
On third-and-22, Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy called a run against the Bears’ prevent defense just to get a few yards back for a long McManus field goal.
The 5-foot-7 Henderson disappeared through the Schofield-induced crease, then cut right to make safety DeAndre Houston-Carson whiff on a second-level tackle.
Broncos win, although, they were fortunate Trubisky ran out of time at the Broncos’ 22.
*The last play drew a flag, then a long explanation by Walt Anderson before he told everyone the game was over.