DENVER (CBS4) – If anyone thought the Denver Broncos emerged with big heads from their 34-0 pummeling of the San Francisco 49ers, they don’t know preseason football.
No playbook secrets are revealed, and coaches often sideline stars for precaution. So a preseason rout bears little resemblance to reality.
“They play what they call a vanilla offense, a vanilla defense — not using any of their more complicated schemes,” CBS4’s Gary Miller said.
If the Broncos indeed reveled in their dismantling of the 49ers, they certainly landed back to Earth during three scrimmages against the Houston Texans this week.
“Our offense stunk today,” quarterback Peyton Manning said after Tuesday’s practice looked worlds away from team’s success in San Francisco.
Good or bad, the preseason is all about fine-tuning a team’s approach before the regular season begins. They’ll get another chance on Saturday again the Texans.
Here are a few questions ahead of the game:
Will The Pass Rush Dominate?
Expect stars on both teams — notably the Broncos’ Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware and the Texans’ J.J. Watt — to put pressure on the offensive lines.
“It’s not going to be safe to be a quarterback,” Gary Miller said. “You don’t want to risk any injury, but nonetheless it’s up to the Broncos offensive line to make sure that Peyton remains untouched.”
During practices this week, Jadeveon Clowney, the Texans’ top pick in this year’s draft, and Ryan Clady, the Broncos star left tackle, battled to several draws.
But Clowney’s status is unknown for Saturday’s game. He left Wednesday’s practice early after colliding with Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme and didn’t practice Thursday. His injury wasn’t disclosed but didn’t appear serious.
Why Risk Injuries?
Recent major injuries suffered by Broncos players, including Jordan Norwood’s season-ending torn ACL and Danny Trevathan’s knee injury that will keep him out for approximately eight weeks, beg the question: Why play starters in preseason games or scrimmage at all when wins don’t count?
Miller says that while fans may clamor to keep stars safe, it’s naive to think players will sit.
“If you’re healthy, you play. Considering they’ve gone all week against the Texans, there is some talk we might not see (Manning) for the entire first half. But he is going to play,” Miller said. “That’s the one thing about sports: Sometimes, those of us who don’t play think, ‘Don’t take any chances. Why would you do that?’ For those who play the game, their attitude is if you’re healthy, this is their job.”
Bad Blood Brewing?
When teams scrimmage against the same opponent multiple times in the preseason, expect bad attitudes to surface and even some fisticuffs to break out. That happened this week when Watt skirmished with some Broncos offensive lineman.
“There’s going to be fights,” Clady told the Associated Press.
And they’re common, sometimes involving punches, but some players say the chippiness is a good signal.
“Players say it will intensify things a little bit because when you practice against guys day after day, you start not to like each other,” Miller said. “You develop a little bit of a rivalry.”
And there is a benefit, he said, to playing a new team: “After a month after going against you own team, you’re chomping at the bit to see different faces.”