In the first week of preseason we get to see a rematch of last season’s Superbowl. Even though it is preseason it gives us a good look to see how strong the depth of both the Seahawks and Broncos is. While most teams will pull their starting offense out after ten to twelve plays, both teams managed to get in 24 snaps for them.
Even though we had an extended look at the starting offenses for both teams, preseason for the Broncos has turned into a look at the development of Brock Osweiler. He played the remainder of the game after Peyton Manning took his seat on the bench.
Seattle – Three Performances of Note
Back Up Offensive Line
J.R. Sweezy was the only offensive lineman playing that was a starter for the Seahawks last season. The Seahawks look like they will have to hope that no starter ends up missing time. Against the Broncos the offensive line gave up a fair bit of pressure, but even when the pass was released quickly multiple defenders beat their man consistently. The issue at right tackle looks to be a troubling development if Justin Britt (-2.0) or Eric Winston (-1.6) do not show considerable improvement going forward.
If Caylin Hauptmann is able to improve slightly over the course of the preseason in pass protection, he could be in line to at least spilt snaps with James Carpenter over the season. Since we know that Carpenter has his own issues, Hauptmann’s development over the coming weeks is something to keep a close eye on.
In the offseason the New York Giants signed and then medically failed O’Brien Schofield and the Seahawks resigned him. Over Schofield’s four year career he has shown himself to be nothing more than a backup. However, against the Broncos backup offensive line, he created consistent pressure, ending with 4 hurries on 17 pass rushing snaps. The best of these came against Chris Clark, 2nd quarter 6:41, Schofield set Clark inside and spun outside leaving Clark in a crumbled heap, unfortunately for Schofield, Osweiler passed the ball in the flat. If Schofield can stay healthy, which has been a problem in the past, the Seahawks might have another edge rusher to rotate in more frequently.
High Expectations Come Down to Earth
When Marshawn Lynch was absent at the start of training camp the buzz over Christine Michael was strong. Even though four-fifths of the starting offensive line did not play, Michael had his own issues to worry about. Michael had 16 yards on seven carries, along with three catches on three targets, he had issues making any defender miss and only had 1.4 yards after contact. For a back who was supposed to be the heir apparent to Lynch, he is looking more like a guy afraid of using his size, unlike lynch.
Michael graded at -5.0 not only due to his lack of burst in the running game, he also fumbled a short pass. Bradley Roby managed to get his helmet on the ball and knock it free. Also, in his one pass blocking snap (that was not ruled out by a penalty) he allowed a pressure on an attempted cut block, against Quanterus Smith. On another negated pass blocking play, Michael was flagged for a chop block. On the only two passing plays he stayed in to block he gave up a pressure and a 15 yard penalty. All that hype might be staying quiet for a while longer now.
Denver – Three Performances of Note
2013 Rookie Starting To Show Promise
In the 2013 draft the Broncos drafted Quanterus Smith as a developmental edge rusher. In last years preseason Smith played on 93 snaps and looked out of his depth. One year later Smith is showing the Broncos brass that he might be a factor as a pass rusher. Smith produced four QB Hurries on 17 oppurtinies, ending with a 17.6 PRP. He showed that he was able to win with inside and outside moves and he isn’t just a speed rusher on the outside. The Broncos used Smith mostly on the left side, it will be an interesting development to see if this is a trend going forward, especially if Smith is used at the same time as Demarcus Ware and Von Miller.
Broncos Keep Finding Running Backs
The Broncos might have found another two undrafted running backs who could go on to play in the NFL, Juwan Thompson and Kapri Bibbs. Thompson had 59 yards on six carries, with another 22 yards called back on a holding call. Thompson looked the exact opposite of Michael, Thompson gaining 3 yards after contact, while still having the ability to get on the edge and make a substantial gain. Like Thompson, Bibbs also had his longest run of the day negated by a holding call (back to back plays). It is highly likely that the Broncos will have to cut one of these two backs on cut down day due to Monte Ball and Ronnie Hillman and the trust C.J. Anderson has seemingly built up over last season. This looks like it will be a battle to the wire and another team could get an interesting pick up if one of them is cut.
Development of Osweiler
Since Brock Osweiler entered the league in 2012 he has played 84 snaps in mop up duties. So just like all of other Peyton Manning’s backups, the only chance to evaluate Osweiler is during preseason. Last year Osweiler showed he has the ability to play well, especially in passes over ten yards. Against the Seahawks Osweiler was a little inconsistent on his deep ball, 1-4, 34 yards a touchdown and one interception. The one completion he made was the go ahead touchdown to Jordan Norwood, the pass was a perfectly placed drop over the cornerback and arrived before the safety could make a play on the ball. However, the other three passes showed some issues, on the interceptions Osweiler failed to see A.J. Jefferson underneath the tight end, which gave Jefferson an easy pick. With three more games to go Osweiler will get more significant playing time to see where he stands as the future quarterback of the Broncos.
– A.J. Jefferson out performed every defensive back with a +2.1 grade. He was targeted three times for zero catches, one pass deflection and an interception.
– Kenny Anunike finished with a 37.5 PRP, thanks to 5 hurries on ten pass rushing snaps, however he finished with only +0.2.
– Rookie Free Agent Brock Coyle had four stops on five tackles. Coyle looks like he might be a useful player against the run.
PFF Game Ball
Both team’s defenses had the edge as is typical in early preseason games and the biggest standout was O’Brien Schofield. Schofield showed the ability to make a decent player in Chris Clark look foolish at times. Though Schofield has not shown the ability to do this consistently throughout the season, he showed impressive form and with that, earned the PFF Game Ball.