Gazette columnist Paul Klee checks in with three observations from Saturday’s preseason opener at Broncos Stadium at Mile High... if you dare:
1. To no one’s surprise, Vance Joseph’s Broncos showed up unprepared for a football game. We've seen this movie before, last year, and it wasn't worth watching the first time. The first-team offense dropped passes and incurred a false start penalty. The first-team defense (without Von Miller, who wisely took the night off) was gashed for a pair of long runs. The good news? Denver’s special teams looked they had a great week of practice. It’s only preseason, and the Broncos were breaking in new quarterback Case Keenum and missing their best player. But Joseph’s margin for error is the width of a tortilla over on Federal Blvd. At least those are appetizing. There was zilch about the Broncos' preseason debut that earned that label. It's only slightly concerning Case Keenum's offense went 3-and-out on its only two possessions. Minnesota's 'D' is for real, and Bill Musgrave will get the offense figured out. But "V.J." has yet to show he deserves this job.
2. To no one’s surprise, Trevor Siemian outplayed Paxton Lynch. It makes absolutely no sense why the Broncos unloaded Siemian and kept Lynch. Oh, and Saturday night couldn’t have gone better for Siemian... or gone worse for Lynch. This was a sequence that really happened: on his first pass of the game, Lynch threw an interception. And on his first pass of the game, Siemian threw a touchdown. It’s not even a question of whether the Broncos let the wrong backup quarterback go. Siemian led the Vikings on three scoring drives. Lynch led the Broncos into a pit of misery. The Broncos have 99 problems and a backup QB is a big one. Time to fire up the trade machine, Mr. Elway. If Case Keenum goes down, this season's cooked. And don’t be surprised if Siemian spends another decade in the NFL as a wealthy backup. He’s ideal for the backup role. The Vikings love him.
3. To no one’s surprise, Daniel Carlson is one field goal-bootin’ stud. The pride of The Classical Academy, Carlson made three extra points and drilled a 39-yard field goal in the first half of his NFL preseason debut. Carlson figures to have plenty of opportunities to leave a mark as a rookie with the robust Vikings offense. The Vikings made the former Auburn star the first kicker selected in the 2018 draft. Minnesota learned its lesson in '17 when Kai Forbath missed five PATs. That won’t happen with Carlson, who’s doing the Pikes Peak region proud.