Offense bounces back after trying day against team’s own defense
About 15 minutes remained in practice Monday when Broncos coach Vance Joseph ordered a team huddle. Players from both sides of the field, still hot from a skirmish that broke out a few plays earlier, gathered around as Joseph issued an ultimatum:
Stop the nonsense, he told them. Finish practice right.
So the players dispersed to close out a day the offense needed to win.
A day earlier in the team’s first fully padded workout, the offense was defeated handily by the defense, which intercepted both quarterbacks, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.
“Did I like what I saw? Not really,” Joseph said after Sunday’s practice. “Both guys had issues.”
Their grades improved Monday, though. Both got off to a strong start. First Lynch hit tight end Virgil Green for a deep touchdown in the corner of the end zone, and Siemian followed later with a long pass up the middle to receiver Marlon Brown, who dived for the touchdown catch.
The offense bounced back, but the day wasn’t spared of mistakes as Lynch threw back-to-back interceptions during team drills.
“They came out, they were sharp early on,” Joseph said of the quarterbacks. “It wasn’t perfect. But it was better than yesterday.”
As Joseph has said since February, the driving factor in electing a starting quarterback is decision-making at the line of scrimmage — making the right reads, making the appropriate throws, deciding when to pull the ball down and run, knowing when to throw it away.
“That’s why I was so disappointed with yesterday’s results,” Joseph said. “Making critical (errors) in the scoring zone, we can’t have. Now, if you make an error on first-and-10, second-and10, you can overcome those.”
The physicality from the offensive line that trickled down to the run game and passing game was applauded by Joseph.
“Yesterday was unacceptable,” rookie offensive tackle Garett Bolles said. “We weren’t on our game. We had things we had to work out. We had some injuries that happened, so the next man has to step up. We’re just trying to get used to each other.”
Monday’s practice placed a heavy emphasis on running the ball more, with C.J. Anderson, rookie De’Angelo Henderson and free-agent acquisition Stevan Ridley taking the bulk of reps.
On one play, Ridley went out wide for a catch and was popped by linebacker Zaire Anderson. Tackle Ty Sambrailo, unhappy with the hit, rushed to Ridley’s defense and the first brawl of 2017 ensued.
Although Joseph said he was happy to see the enthusiasm, the tempers have to be controlled. The bounceback is what counted most, though.
“I told the guys things are going to happen, but it’s how you respond,” Joseph said. “Football is a game of adversity and a game of mistakes. That’s going to happen. You’re going to have bad days, but how you bounce back is critical.”