Blogging The Boys: Let's start with the big one. Trevor Siemian, can he be the QB for the Broncos and be successful? What kind of player is he?
Mile High Report: Yes he can be successful. If you would have asked me a week ago I probably would have given you a much different answer. What I'm seeing this year is him having an offensive scheme that is helping him by having the offense not be so predictable. Mike McCoy and Bill Musgrave are making an impact in scheme and even with only one game in the books, it appears to be a night vs day difference in what the offense was in the 2016 season.
Siemian is a smart player. He doesn't have a cannon arm or the athleticism that quarterbacks like Cam Newton or even Marcus Marriota bring to the table. He's a quarterback who so far likes to figure out where to get the ball and get it then as quickly as possible. He's been labelled as a "Game Manager" type quarterback and while not completely fair, it does ring true at least in substance of what we've seen over the past year fairly consistently from him.
The exciting thing is that he has a scheme now that at least so far appears to keep teams guessing as far as what is coming and he is able to execute with good success in getting the ball into the hands of play makers.
Also...dude broke Joey Bosa's ankles last week which earns him a notch of respect in my books. That was flat-out hilarious.
BTB: The Broncos did a solid job of containing the Chargers running game. Who were the key players in accomplishing that, and do you think they can replicate it against the Cowboy punishing run game?
MHR: The name you will hear buzzing around in the run defense game out of Broncos Country is Adam Gotsis. He had an impressive impact in the run defense arena last week from the RDE position for the Broncos. He's not the greatest pass rusher (or at least hasn't shown that yet), but he looks to have grown into everything we've been wanting from him this offseason: he added size to his frame, is anchoring his blocks much better than he did in his rookie season, and he's smartly flowing to the football with sound angles.
The other name you won't hear because of the nature of his game is Domata Peko. The dude was eating up blocks all game long in the middle and letting the ends and linebackers stay clean as they attacked the ball carrier. He wasn't spectacular, but he was site better at NT than Sylvester Williams ever was last season.
BTB: The team is under a new head coach and some new assistants. What kind of coach is Vance Joseph? How is the team different under his regime?
MHR: The biggest difference I'm picking up between Vance Joseph and Gary Kubiak is one of flexibility. Joseph seems much more inclined to let his coordinators tailor their game plans (especially on the offensive side of the ball) from week to week instead of the very old-school mentality Kubiak had of running their system their way no matter what the opponent is or what they bring to the table. Basically the great foundation of what Wade Phillips does with his defensive scheme is being encouraged on both sides of the ball: fit your scheme to what your players do well and adjust week to week to hide weaknesses and enhance strengths.
The big difference so far is that the team overall looks to be engaged and excited about getting back to post season relevance. Through the back half of last season, you could tell pretty well from the players in their conferences that what we saw in weeks 8-10 were what we were going to be seeing more of in weeks 11-16. Having a new coach has brought back some hope to the players as they can see that stagnation isn't something that Joseph is going to tolerate in 2017.
BTB: Who are a couple of Broncos that were a surprise in the first game, that played better than people thought they would or really elevated their game?
MHR: Shelby Harris may only have been in on a couple of plays, but they were big ones. He was the guy who tipped the final field goal. Harris is a defensive lineman who was brought in as a camp body. No one really expected him to even make the team. But with a couple of guys on the D-Line getting dinged up (Derek Wolfe during preseason, Zach Kerr, and Jared Crick), he has gotten a shot and shown nothing but positive play each and every week that he's been able to get on the field.
The other guy that really stepped up was Trevor Siemian. This guy was hot garbage by the end of the 2016 season and almost no one believed that he would be able to do anything significant in 2017. Even in beating out Lynch in the preseason it was seemingly only because he was safe with the football...not that he was spectacular in any real way. But fast forward to week 1 and the guy looked pretty darn good on the NFL field. He looked like a leader and made plays in every way to all areas of the field with his arm and with his feet a few times.
BTB: I've seen some criticisms of the offensive line, give us a breakdown of what is going on there.
MHR: I'll start by saying the line talent overall is FAR better than the product we saw in 2016 up front. We actually seem to have at least a decent left tackle now in Garett Bolles. He's a rookie so it isn't all gravy, but I don't think anyone expects him to be Tyron Smith. Ron Leary is a huge upgrade for us (hopefully he clears the concussion protocol and gets to play his old team this week). At left guard the team split snaps between Max Garcia and Andre Barbre.
But the biggest problem I saw on the offensive line by far was our right tackle Menelik Watson. He wasn't just bad in pass blocking...he was downright atrocious and looked like a very big liability that your team could take advantage of especially when Denver gets into obvious passing situations.
What looks like a strength for this line is their run blocking though. Seeing our backs average even 4 yards per carry was a breath of fresh air for me as a fan when looking back at what 2016's line did. We get decent push up front either direction with the one caveat of Connor McGovern not being in the same league as Ron Leary which should come as no surprise to anyone.
Thanks for the knowledge, Mile High Report.