Sports

NFL Preseason Analysis: Defense Key in Broncos Win v. Seahawks

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The Von Doom Machine is a thing of blurred orange and blue beauty.

Arms flailing, cleats churning, the pass rushing duo has proven to be an insurmountable pair to every foe they have faced. Incredible speed off the snap from rookie Von Miller. Power and experience from 2009 sack king Elvis Dumervil.

And, to the keen eye, notable adjustments from both players as the game moves along. Different angles against the same player. Bouncing off blocks in unexpected ways. Evolving attacks that render revolving quarterbacks.

The two combined for 3.5 sacks Saturday in a 23-20 last second victory over the Seattle Seahawks that showcased what promises to be a vastly improved defense from the unit the Denver Broncos fielded last year. The first team defense surrendered only three points and 39 yards in one half of play. For the third straight week, the Broncos’ starting defense shut down its opponent. Seattle’s only offense-driven touchdown came in the fourth quarter, with their starters playing against second and third-string Broncos defenders.

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“I think we’ve shown some promise,” head coach John Fox said. “We’ve still got a long way to go because this is still preseason. This was our most extended play in the preseason, and I’ve been pleased with the progress we’ve made on defense. Obviously we thought a lot of Von Miller to draft him in that spot and getting Elvis back is huge, both in the locker room as well as on the field, so they’re a pretty good little tandem.”

“It is great to have a mentor technician that can show me how to be a better pass rusher,” said Miller. “Anytime you have someone that is better than you, you can learn from them. It makes the learning curve a lot easier.”

Injuries to D.J. Williams and Brodrick Bunkley leave them in some questionable waters, but one can only be impressed by the tenacity, discipline, and talent (yes, talent) this Broncos defense is displaying.

The offense, on the other hand, was more of a mixed bag.

Kyle Orton and his fellow starters simply began the game on the wrong foot. The unit began its first series committing back-to-back penalties, and the first three Broncos’ possessions resulted in two 3-and-outs and an interception.

By the second quarter, things had improved, but it wasn’t until the third quarter that the offense really clicked.

“This is pro football and this is the NFL. We’re not going to go up and down the field every week,” said Fox. “That’s why it’s a team game. I think we did struggle—some of it was self-inflicted and some of it was inflicted by the Seattle Seahawks, but I thought we regrouped. We fought back, and we made some adjustments at halftime which is critical in Game 3 of the preseason. I thought we had a nice drive to start the third quarter.”

Orton’s third quarter touchdown drive was indeed a thing of beauty, a great series for him to end his preseason campaign, and an excellent way for him to stamp out any doubt that may have creeped into fans’ or critics’ minds through the first two quarters of the game.

Tim Tebow, who had been under heavy scrutiny this week but had few opportunities against Buffalo, entered the game in the third quarter. Tebow was his usual self — chaotic behind center. Fun to watch. Impressive outside the pocket. He had his usual batch of fumbled snaps and underthrown targets to go with a handful of impressive plays, however, and it’s clear he’ll settle in his backup role this season.

The Broncos again looked dominant. Again one hesitates in getting too excited, since the competition was not good, but, Tarvaris Jackson or not, the Broncos didn’t allow the opposing quarterback to outperform his reputation Saturday. For years, we know they would have. This defense, led by Von Doom, promises to be a game-changing unit.