The Denver Broncos opened the 2018 preseason campaign with lots of questions that still need to be answered. A 42-28 loss to the Minnesota Vikings was not the way Vance Joseph and his staff wanted to start after last year’s disastrous season. Here are a few takeaways from Saturday’s preseason opener.
As great of a quarterback he was during his playing days, John Elway has struggled to draft or sign a quarterback to lead this team, except the great Peyton Manning. Case Keenum played in only two series, and was 1-4 with five yards. Paxton Lynch, still given a chance after many miscues last season, was 6/11 for 24 yards and had an interception. To rub salt on this open wound, Trevor Siemian, last year’s primary starter now with the Vikings, was 11/17 with 165 yards and two touchdowns against his former team. Keenum should get some more reps next week against the Chicago Bears, while Lynch needs a lot of work.
The bright spot from a passing standpoint was the unheralded Chad Kelly. The 2018 draft’s “Mr. Irrelevant”, Kelly was 14/21 with 177 yards and two touchdowns. He electrified the Mile High crowd with his passing ability and gave the home fans something to finally cheer about. Kelly earned a chance to be Keenum’s backup, and he should get another chance to prove himself next week against the Bears. If he stays hot, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t pass Lynch as the second string quarterback.
Draftee Royce Freeman was hot all game. He had four carries for 38 yards and a touchdown, and had a long of 23 yards. Freeman has earned the opportunity to see more first team reps this preseason. Projected starter Devontae Booker had two carries for seven yards.
While not too impressive against the Vikings, it must first be noted that linebacker Von Miller did not suit up for this game. That being said, his leadership and fire left a major void on this defensive unit. The Vikings rushed for a total of 147 yards and passed for 259 yards. Minnesota had five touchdowns and had their way the whole game, punting only five times. First round draftee Bradley Chubb saw limited action, as did linebacker Brandon Marshall.
They did get a lot of work in, and there were many bright spots on Denver’s special teams. Isaiah McKenzie had the highlight of he night with his 78-yard punt return for a touchdown. He will definitley see more action in the games to come to prove himself as the number one returner for the Broncos. Since many drives ended in punts, punter Marquette King got show off the strength of his leg. And he showed it in the thin Denver air. He averaged 48.3 yards on seven punts, and kicked one within the 20-yard line. Given the offense so far, he should see plenty of work this preseason.
A lot left to be desired from the Broncos in their first preseason game. Paxton Lynch has proven agin he does not deserve to be the backup quarterback, while Chad Kelly proved he should get some reps with the second team offense. Should Von Miller suit up in the next game against the Bears, we should get a better look at the defense.