2018 rookie class making more of an impact than 2017
The Broncos currently have 10 rookies on their 53-man roster. Of those 10, six saw the field with three making an immediate impact on the game against the Seahawks.
The biggest impacts came from the rookie running back tandem of Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay as both backs ended the night with 15 carries for 71 yards for an average of 4.7 yards per carry.
Freeman showed why he earned the right to be the first rookie running back to start for the Broncos since Terrell Davis in 1995. He displayed great vision, speed around the corner, power up the middle, and the ability to break tackles, but Lindsay stole the show with his well-documented versatility.
On top of Lindsay’s rushing production, he added two catches for 31 yards and scored the Broncos’ first touchdown of the 2018 season. Oh, and he made one tackle on special teams and one on Seattle safety Earl Thomas after an interception.
Not only was Lindsay wearing the #30 jersey made famous by Davis, but he was also making the kind of impact Davis did as a multi-use rookie.
This one-two punch kept veteran Devontae Booker on the bench for most of the game except for a few runs that went nowhere and some plays for pass protection.
Rookie receiver Courtland Sutton made contributions on the offensive side of the ball with two catches for 45 yards. Pass rusher Bradley Chubb was in on three tackles and contributed to a sack on Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson.
This could be a special rookie class if they continue to produce throughout the season.
Keenum and Sanders still clicking
In the preseason you could see the chemistry Case Keenum and Emmanuel Sanders had as they combined for seven catches and 88 yards. Against the Seahawks, Keenum and Sanders connected 10 times for 135 yards and one touchdown.
Last year, you could physically see the frustration Sanders had for the lack of offensive production his team had as he amassed just one 100-yard game.
This year, Sanders — who led the offense on to the field — seems to have a pep in his step and is once again excited for what this offense, with Keenum at quarterback, can do. That is, as long as Keenum can take care of the ball.
Keenum knows he needs to take care of the ball
Keenum was lauded for his accuracy during training camp and preseason. If given enough tools around him, Keenum has the capability of keeping his team in games and making the plays this team has sorely missed the past few seasons.
Before the game, Head Coach Vance Joseph said that Keenum just needed to manage the game and not be anything special. He was right. When Keenum managed the game, made his reads, and got the ball into his players hands the Broncos moved the ball up and down the field almost with ease.
But when Keenum tried to be special or do too much he made poor reads and put the ball into the hands of the opponent three times. Being his first season-opening game as the starting quarterback of a new team, you almost have to give him some leeway but these are mistakes he will need to clean up from here on out if he wants to maintain the excitement this offense is feeling right now, and to keep the “Kelly” chants at bay.
Defensive line very good, secondary OK
Just as the Legion of Boom is no more, the No Fly Zone may be disappearing as well. The Broncos secondary struggled mightily at defending against tight ends and running backs out of the backfield.
They gave up a touchdown to rookie tight end Will Dissly, who turned in three catches for 105 yards, and gave up the lead on a 51-yard touchdown to receiver Tyler Lockett in the fourth quarter. They also allowed 63 yards on seven catches from Seattle’s running backs.
During the offseason, the Broncos traded for safety Su’a Cravens to help strengthen these areas of weakness but with Cravens placed on injured reserve and recovering from knee surgery, the secondary was exposed when Wilson was given time to throw.
However, the defensive line didn’t make things comfortable for the veteran quarterback. Most the day Wilson was pressured, hit, and rushed out of the pocket as the Seattle offensive line continued to protect their asset.
In the past, Wilson typically was able to avoid the rush and make plays with his legs. This time, though, the Broncos made sure to keep the mobile quarterback contained by utilizing their overabundance of pass rushers and a strong defensive front.
On Seattle’s scoring plays, Wilson had time to throw and felt very little pressure. But when the Broncos defense was able to apply pressure they were able to force Wilson to make bad throws or knock him down before he was able to escape.
When Von Miller wasn’t double teamed, he seemed to find his way to Wilson all too easily.
Von Miller is a beast
Many analysts believed this game would come down to who would win the battle between Miller and Wilson. Both players have tremendous respect for one another and surely prepared to face the best each player had to offer.
In the past, Wilson was able to just escape Miller’s pursuit with his quick feet. On Sunday though, Miller caught up to Wilson to get three sacks and four quarterback hits.
On one play, Miller knew exactly what Wilson was going to do when he felt pressure coming from behind. So instead of trying to force his way through the offensive linemen, Miller changed his direction and thumped Wilson as he was trying to step up in the pocket, causing a fumble on third down that was eventually recovered by Seattle.
Miller also made an impact against the run game by literally taking the ball out of the hands of Seattle running back Chris Carson.
With Miller’s three sacks, he moved into the NFL’s top 50 all-time sack list, passing Willie McGinest. His performance was reminiscent of his dominance in Super Bowl 50 and the Broncos needed every ounce of it to pull out the win.
Fun Fact: with the win against Seattle, Pat Bowlen passes former Raiders owner Al Davis for fifth-most wins as an owner in the NFL. Another great accomplishment for Mr B, and even sweeter that he passed the Broncos’ longtime rival owner.
What did you think of the Denver’s win against Seattle, Broncos Country? Let us know!