If the early returns on last night’s game are any indication, Gary Kubiak has the Denver Broncos on the right track. On the road, they knocked off the Seattle Seahawks 22-20 in an impressive, physically dominant display on the grid-iron.
With guys like Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, DeMarcus Ware and Chris Harris, Jr. out, it gave players further down the depth chart plenty of opportunities to shine. We saw that as talented as the Broncos first-team players are, they are remarkably young, and deep, throughout the roster.
Here are some plays that exemplified how impressive the Broncos were last night.
All animated images via NFL Game Pass.
Miller didn’t see a lot of snaps in Seattle, as well he shouldn’t. But for the small sample size he gave us last night, he was dominant. The buzz on Miller’s conditioning out of Dove Valley throughout training camp has been positive. We saw last night how loose and explosive he is right now.
Miller explodes off the edge, blowing by the right tackle and shows that elite ability to bend around the corner. The Seahawks second play from scrimmage resulted in a strip-sack, with inside linebacker Todd Davis recovering. Von Miller, take a bow.
We here at Mile High Huddle have been giddy with excitement to see Malik Jackson in Wade Phillips’ attacking 3-4 defense. For the first time in his career, Jackson entered training camp as the starter and he showed us last night a glimpse of what’s to come in 2015
Rookie outside linebacker Shane Ray acts as the tip of the spear here, pushing Seattle’s left tackle into Russell Wilson’s face. Meanwhile, Jackson has knifed by the right guard and is there to engulf Wilson, who was flushed by Ray. Another Broncos sack.
Shaq Barrett is hell-bent on making the Broncos final roster. The 2014 undrafted free agent out of Colorado State spent most of his rookie year on the practice squad. He’s fixing to remedy that this time around and has shown that he’s a natural pass rusher out of the two-point stance.
At the snap, Barrett speeds by the right tackle and in a Miller-esque display, bends around the corner to take down Tarvaris Jackson. The violence and closing speed he shows here is going to earn him some high-fives in the Broncos defensive meeting room in the coming days.
One of the things I really admire about Bradley Roby’s game is his willingness to mix it up and stick his nose in the action. Physicality is the name of his game and he showed last night that the four forced fumbles he notched as a rookie are a drop in the bucket of things to come.
Roby reads the play and blows by his man to take down Christine Michael for a small gain. Explosive. Instinctual. Broncos Country should be really excited to watch Roby continue to turn the corner in his development in 2015.
I’ve already mentioned Ray, but this was his biggest play of the night. Pegged as a one-trick pony in the pre-draft process, many in the scouting community didn’t see Ray as a complete player. On this play, we see his motor, technique and knack for finding the ball.
Ray swims past the left tackle, impeding the ball carrier’s path, who then tries to bounce it outside. Ray closes in and perfectly punches the ball out of the running back’s hands. The Seahawks went on to miraculously recover the fumble, but Ray earns high marks for this impact play.
Ronnie Hillman showed in live game action why Gary Kubiak has gushed on him of late. He might have struggled initially to pick up the new playbook, but he has settled in and has flashed consistently all throughout camp. We see the fruits of his labors in the play below.
Hillman shows patience in letting the play develop, finds his crease, sticks his foot in the ground and gets downhill for a 23-yard gain. This was a well-blocked play, as LT Ty Sambrailo, LG Max Garcia and FB James Casey all sealed their assignment out of the play, opening the way for Hillman’s romp.
Brock Osweiler and Virgil Green got the start last night in place of Manning and Owen Daniels. Both players made the most of it. Osweiler went 15-of-20 for 151 yards and a touchdown. His QB rating? 112.7. The additional reps Kubiak has given him, as Manning rests, seem to have paid off. And like we’ve been saying all year—Green is poised to explode in 2015.
Osweiler shows great poise and command out of the shotgun here. Green flies down the left seam and Osweiler perfectly drops the ball in the bucket, showing great accuracy and touch. Green hauls in the touchdown—the Broncos only one of the night.
Kenny Anunike is a man on a mission. He might be a tad undersized to play defensive end in a 3-4, but he showed us last night why the Broncos defensive coaches are ignoring that. He led the team with eight total tackles, two QB hits and a sack.
Like former Minnesota Vikings great John Randle proved years ago, it’s not the size of the man but the size of the heart. Anunike has a world-sized heart. And a big football brain.
On third-and-3, the Seahawks are hoping to convert with a dive up the middle. Playing right DE here, Anunike stacks and sheds his man in time to step into the runner’s hole and stop him short of the first down marker. Anunike was flinging dudes around last night, displaying great power and intensity.
Gerald Rivers is fighting tooth and nail to make this roster. He helped himself out tremendously last night. The Broncos have a ridiculously stacked outside linebacker group, but if Rivers can continue to make impact plays in preseason games, he just might win the fight.
On fourth down, the Seahawks are hoping to catch the Broncos peeking in the backfield on a play-action. Rivers initially bites down on the play-fake, but as R.J. Archer rolls right, hoping to run for the first down, Rivers shows a great motor, beating him to the edge and punching the ball out as he wraps him up.
Rookie seventh round pick Trevor Siemian showed great poise and command last night as the third and final quarterback to step in. He was decisive. He was accurate. And he showed good mobility. Bennie Fowler made several nice plays, including the big one below.
Siemian sees single coverage on Fowler and looks off the free safety just long enough to drop the ball in over his target’s shoulder. The pass is just a hair long but Fowler shows great effort and hands to lay out and haul it in. An impressive display by two young Broncos deep down their respective depth charts.
Darius Kilgo is currently Sylvester Williams’ backup at nose guard. Last night, he showed us why the Broncos placed him there on the depth chart. He notched four tackles, a tackle for a loss and this sack in the play below.
Kilgo’s sack is triggered by yet another great play by Shaq Barrett, who speeds off the edge and flushes Archer right. Kilgo’s motor is on full display as he chases down his target to finish of the Broncos win with a big play.
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