Broncos first win 24 – 17
Sentiments Mixed About 2017 Prospects ~ by Bob Volpe ~
It has been a long off season for Bronco fans, but Thursday night the preseason opened against Da Bears in Chicago and the Broncos showed up….
John Elway went to the mat to address the Bronco’s weaknesses from last year in both the draft and free agency. Denver’s 2017 draft pick of Garret Bolles from U of Utah was just the beginning of the reformat for the O line. The line has also been beefed up with some veteran players. Guard Ron Leary was brought in from the Cowboys, then they added tackle Menelik Watson, a relatively inexperienced behemoth of a man who suffered a string of injuries in four years at Oakland. Recently the Broncs traded the Eagles a low round draft pick for Allen Barbre. Barbre goes 6’4” and 310 pounds a welcome addition to the depth chart at tackle.
All in all the line can’t be worse than it was last year, however, even with the O line shuffle. Pro Football Focus (PFF) still ranks this year’s Bronco O line 25th in the NFL. Here is what PFF had to say about the 2017 Bronco offensive line: “Much of the Broncos projection comes down to how first-round pick Garett Bolles performs. If he’s a solid starter from Day 1, the Broncos could have an above average line with a Pro Bowl-caliber guard in Ronald Leary and Pro Bowl-caliber center in Matt Paradis. If Bolles can’t even beat out Donald Stephenson, our second lowest-graded tackle a season ago, they’ll have issues.”
The 2017 rookie draft picks are showing some great promise.
The inability to stop the run last year was another focus of Broncos for 2017. Their 2nd draft pick was directed at addressing that short coming. With their 2nd pick the Broncos chose DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State. Walker goes 6’4” and 280 pounds. Walker’s presence a strong addition. He can play end in a 3–4, and he’ll also help the transition should Denver utilize more 4–3 post-Wade Phillips.
Poor decision making and fumbles on the part of Jordan Norwood and Kalif Raymond were costly to last year’s playoff hopes. Norwood had five fumbles last year and Raymond fumbled twice in critical situations. Both of these guys are on the bubble to make the team this year.
The good news on special teams this year is Isaiah McKenzie. Denver wanted to add a playmaker in this draft, it was just a matter of when the move would come. Here, the Broncos may have outdone themselves, McKenzie, a fifth-round pick out of Georgia, has been among the standouts of camp. The pint-sized wideout, nicknamed the “Human Joystick,” has consistently displayed explosion and game-breaking ability, qualities that made him a premier draft target (and arguable steal) for Denver. Coach Vance Joseph has announced McKenzey will be the starting punt returner this year.
And then there is the BIG question on every Bronco fans mind. Who will throw the rock this year? Fact is it looks like it is going to be a last pre-season game decision. Both Siemian and Lynch have had their
ups and downs during training camp. Still too many INT’s, but remember they are throwing against the vaulted “no fly zone” Bronco secondary.
Oh yeah, what about dem Bears?
The Chicago Bears are in a full rebuild this season and it could be another long year Bears fans. Jay Cutler is out and Mike Glennon will take over as the team’s starting quarterback. Glennon had his best season in 2013 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, accumulating 2608 passing yards with a solid 19:9 TD to INT ratio in 13 games.
The 27-year old quarterback has not played much since, and only attempted 11 passes all of last season. The Bears also lost top wid receiver Alshon Jeffrey who was their biggest offensive threat which means Kevin White and Cameron Meredith will need to step up. Glennon and Meredith have appeared to develop a nice chemistry early in training camp. Meredith tallied 888 receiving yards last year and could be poised for a big year.
The Bears drafted Mitchell Trubisky with their second overall pick in the 2017 draft however he is currently pegged as the number three quarterback to start the season. Trubisky had trouble taking snaps early in training camp and could be a work in progress. Bears backup QB Mark Sanchez will likely see playing time in this one.
The Bears only averaged 17.4 points per game in 2016, ranking them down at 28th overall. The Chicago defense was subpar last season, conceding an average of 24.9 points per game, placing them 24th in the