Broncos Camp Log | Day 2: 3 key observations
Englewood, Colo. – Day 2 of Denver Broncos training camp began on a cloudy, overcast Thursday morning at the UCHealth Training Center. Fans and players hailed the pleasant breezy 65-70 degree weather, with occasional raindrops as the setting for the Broncos’ second free public practice.
The defense may have won the first day of camp, but Thursday’s practice focused on the offense as QB Russell Wilson and company burst in with fierce competition during squad times. From the offensive line to receivers, tight ends and running backs, the new offense crafted by first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett is a welcome sight for a resurrected fanbase.
That’s not to say the Broncos’ defense had a poor performance on the practice field, as the linebacking corps seemed particularly locked in as a unit under coordinator Ejiro Evero. Not to mention, the Broncos’ talented secondary consistently challenged the offense and sometimes got the better of the team’s wide outings.
Competitive football is back in the Mile High City, so it’s time to come to Broncos Country buzzing after day two of training camp.
A principled and creative offense
When general manager George Paton landed Wilson in a trade with Seattle, no one was happier than Hackett. Wilson’s elite talent, preparation and leadership are available to Hackett and freshman CO Justin Outten.
Thursday morning, in multiple team periods, Wilson executed a healthy mix of rushing plays and passing plays with installations as well. But it was the multiple formations Hackett called up that showed his preference for player versatility and allowing his offense to have options. At one point, Wilson and the first-team members ran the same play three times in a row on entirely different sets of personnel.
Sometimes there were jumbo heavy and tight sets, while at other times the receivers were spread out. There was also a common pre-snap movement of different receivers both on and off the line of scrimmage, forcing the defense to follow a barrage of traffic and offensive looks.
Different schematic variations from the game-action were presented on Day 2, which can basically allow a seven-man protection front to keep the game alive longer. Or the receivers can be spread wide for the big splash, or checkdown in open space. Either way, the Broncos’ new offense was efficient, energetic and seemed prepared.
I know, it’s only the second day of training camp. But after being tortured with inept and pathetic offensive displays for years, I can’t help but be excited about the potential of this offense. Pair a future Hall of Fame QB with an offensive innovator who is bursting with energy, and some sparks are sure to fly.
New sustainable program O-Line
While it was sad to see Mike Munchak and his assistant Chris Kuper leave the Broncos, a brand new offense was installed in Dove Valley due to the change in coaching and team philosophy.
Former San Francisco OL assistant coach Butch Barry commands the Broncos’ O-line room and has been tasked with converting the unit from his 2021 gap power scheme to a modern blocking philosophy of area. That’s why Denver let the revered Munchak go — because his distaste for the zonal blocking system is the NFL’s worst-kept secret.
Once again Thursday, a barrage of mixed offensive line units received reps with Wilson and starters, backups and even third strings. Dalton Risner put up two consecutive days of excellent performances at left guard alongside center Lloyd Cushenberry III. There’s no doubt that the zone blocking pattern more closely aligns with Risner’s movement ability and athleticism as an inner anchor.
Second-year Quinn Meinerz has had a balanced camp so far with some practice moments, but has responded well as a competitor and coachable player on Day 2. The revolving door at right tackle currently has Calvin Anderson and Cameron Fleming which turn in the wake. of Billy Turner and Tom Compton opening camp on the physically unable to perform list.
It revealed that left tackle Garett Bolles was the most stable in the front five – and in the whole room. While I expect great things from No. 72 this season, I also expect a natural regression due to the nature of Wilson’s style of play.
At times, Wilson has been known to scramble and extend plays for what seems like an eternity for his O line. That might catch Bolles in some hold or cut scenarios, but hopefully that’s not the case.
However, rumor suggests it could take Coach Barry and the Broncos’ O line a while to learn each other’s personalities and preferences. Not that that’s a bad thing, but sometimes bonding takes time, especially for big hitters in the offensive trenches.
An emerging response to the ILB
Sometimes it’s hard to decipher if the offseason buzz about a player is legit. But for once, the rumors were right about the hard work Jonas Griffith put into his craft.
The 25-year-old Indiana State player had brief stints with the San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts before arriving in Denver last year. At 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, it’s pretty easy to pick the No. 50 on position and team drills.
Griffith was fearless taking on offensive linemen in tight lanes and halted the progress of the Broncos’ rushing offense on more than one occasion. He also demonstrated smooth lateral movement when diagnosing the game (running against the pass) and showed an exceptional level of preparation.
Coaches and teammates continually praised Griffith on Thursday.
Don’t forget that second-year Stallions defenseman Baron Browning, who wore the green dot for Vic Fangio’s defense last year, joined the linebacker lineup following injuries to Randy Gregory and Jonathon. Cooper. This propels Griffith more prominently into the mix after appearing in 13 games (four starts) and recording 46 tackles, two QB hits and four tackles for a loss in 2021. Griffith has averaged more than 10 tackles in the four games that he started.
Jonas has taken full advantage of every first-team rep so far and seems to be chasing the chance to start in Evero’s defence.