Wide Receiver Emmanuel Sanders back on the practice field for the first time since tearing his achilles tendon December 4th. (Photo: Brandon Krisztal/KOA NewsRadio)
With another Broncos Training Camp underway, the big questions, or in this case, biggest question, is the question that’s been asked since Peyton Manning retired.
What is up with the Broncos QB situation?
If you ask Broncos President of Football Operations and General Manager, John Elway the question is answered simply that the team upgraded at QB.
“We just felt that with Joe coming in, getting him in a trade, and where he is in his career, we feel like he’s in his prime,” Elway said Wednesday. “At least we hope he is. To have a young guy like Drew learn under him and be able to kind of solidify that position for a while—obviously we’ve been looking for one since Peyton [Manning] retired. That’s always a difficult position to fill, but we finally feel pretty good about that position and where we are.”
Elway’s 2 new QBs were on display Thursday in front of fans for their first “official” practice as Broncos.
Flacco looked like he’s looked to the media and his teammates all Spring, like a guy who’s been a QB in the NFL for over a decade.
Lock looked like he’s looked all Spring as well, like a rookie who’s still trying to figure it out, with a flash of something greater here and there.
It’s been chronicled frequently since he was acquired by Denver, Flacco had his best statistical season in 2014 when Gary Kubiak was calling the plays for him in Baltimore. Now Flacco is playing in an evolved version of that offense that Mike Shanahan and Kubes ran here. Mike’s son, Kyle Shanahan has put his finger prints on his “West Coast” offense and it’s being mimicked by Sean McVay in L.A., and now presumably Zac Taylor in Cincy, and Matt Lafleur in Green Bay.
Speaking of the Packers, Aaron Rodgers spoke to former Broncos QB Chris Simms on his Podcast in Lake Tahoe, and marveled at how Kyle’s offense just gets receivers open. Hear that entire chat here
That’s good news for Flacco and the Broncos, because Rich Scangarello has worshiped at the altar of Kyle Shanahan for lack of a better characterization. Scangarello left a 6-figure job as a college offensive coordinator at Northern Arizona to be an offensive line intern under Shanahan in Atlanta. After a year at Wagner, calling plays, Scangarello re-joined Kyle in San Francisco as he QB-Coach for 2 seasons.
Now he has a chance to call the plays, and as Emmamuel Sanders told me a few weeks ago, “this offense is great…we only have like 3 dropbacks, the rest is all play-action.”
Which takes us back to Thursday’s opening training camp practice. That play-action heavy offense was on full display. Flacco was easily the best QB, but that bar was low.
We saw the runningback rotation of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman in full force as the two 2nd-year backs alternated reps on seemingly every play.
The most impressive play of the day on offense came from perhaps an unlikely source in Brendan Langley who’s moving back to his high school and early college position of Wide Receiver. The third-year converted cornerback hauled in a 45-yard Go route from Lock for a TD. But, as we often like to point out, it was 3rd-team vs. 3rd-team.
Flacco was on the money with some throws, but what stood out more weren’t his couple of completions to 2nd-year wide out Courtland Sutton, but rather Sutton’s couple of drops.
Speaking of Wide Receivers, one veteran defensive player told me after practice that he’s a little worried about the team’s downfield speed on the outside. “There isn’t anyone who scares you that they can take the top of the defense,” he said.
Sanders may get there, but he was eased into his first practice, since tearing his Achilles Tendon on the same practice field on December 4th. Also, he’s 32-years-old. It's pretty remarkable that he's back on the field after less than 7-and-a-half months!
All-in-all, it was a good first day, so, we’ll cap it off with “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.”
-Flacco appears to be an upgrade at QB as Elway claimed, and the 2 young backs behind him should make his life easier.
-2nd year cornerback Isaac Yiadom had a nice interception
-Lindsay looked quick in his first practice since his season-ending wrist injury in the Raiders game on Christmas Eve.
The Bad: Behind Flacco, none of the QBs, not just Lock, but Kevin Hogan and Brett Rypien don’t inspire you.
-Sutton dropped more passes than we’d like
-A couple of false starts are silly on Day 1. They fall into Vic Fangio’s “Death By Inches” category.
The Ugly: Todd Davis left practice on a cart, with an apparent lower leg injury. He went to get an MRI and X-Ray, but the expectation is that he’ll miss some time, but the injury isn’t devastating.
Random Trivia of the day: Wide Receiver River Cracraft was the first Broncos player on the practice field in 2019. This isn't much of a surprise, as he was the first player on the field last year every practice as well.
Wide Receiver River Cracraft was the first Broncos player on the practice field. (Photo: Brandon Krisztal/KOANewsRadio)