Thursday, August 8, 2013

Quick Hits: Denver Broncos Defeat San Francisco 49ers 10-6 in Week 1

(Screengrab courtesy of Matt Miller on Twitter)
The Denver Broncos defeated the San Francisco 49ers 10-6 in Candlestick Park on Thursday night, moving to 1-0 in preseason play.  Quarterback Peyton Manning played for one series, going 2-of-4 for 13 yards (one pass competed to Julius Thomas and another to Demaryius Thomas).

A few quick hits from tonight's game:
  • No injuries.  After the game, head coach John Fox had no injuries to report.
  • Pistol formation.  Back in May, we caught wind of the Broncos running pistol formations at Dove Valley.  On Tuesday, ESPN's Cecil Lammey asked Manning about the pistol and about the possibility of ever running it in Denver.  Manning sidestepped the question, but Denver came out in a pistol look on Thursday.
  • Julius Thomas is the real deal.  We've seen plenty of camp stars over the years, but few go on to impress on the actual playing field.  Tight end Julius Thomas may be an exception.  He caught 4 passes for 35 yards on Thursday and looked like a legitimate tight end option for Denver.
  • Duke Ihenacho is a starter in the making.  After flying all over the field on Thursday and recording seven tackles and forcing a fumble, Duke is closing in on the free safety gig.
  • C.J. Anderson looked good, other RBs did not.  Ronnie Hillman averaged three yards a carry, Montee Ball didn't pass block once, and Knowshon Moreno was blown up when asked to block.  All three of the team's top three RBs left much to be desired, but rookie C.J. Anderson played well against San Francisco's third-team defense.
  • The defense created plays.  The Broncos defense created four turnovers on the night, highlighted by a scoop and score by pass rusher Shaun Phillips.  Phillips, who lined up at defensive end tonight, will likely see some time at outside linebacker if Von Miller's four-game suspension is upheld.  Miller's appeal will be heard on August 15, according to an ESPN report.
  • Stewart Bradley is not the answer at middle linebacker.  Perhaps as a sign that they are backpedaling on the idea of Phillips playing outside linebacker, the Broncos played Nate Irving mostly at outside linebacker on Thursday, and he played well.  On the inside, however, Stewart Bradley was horrible, especially against the pass. Bradley is not the answer at MLB, but Irving may be.
  • The offensive line is hurting.  Going into tonight's game, we knew Denver's offensive line was ailing.  It showed throughout the game.  When Ryan Clady and Chris Kuper return to full health and Ryan Lilja gets back into the swing of things, Denver's offensive line will look better.  Tonight, it was ugly.
The Broncos next game will be played on Saturday, Aug. 17, against the Seattle Seahawks. The team's preseason home opener will be played on Saturday, Aug. 24 against the St. Louis Rams ($27 tickets here).