DENVER — First, the good news.

With a 20-7 preseason triumph over the Arizona Cardinals on an autumn-ish Thursday night at Mile High, the Broncos wrapped the preseason with a bow. God bless it. Bring on the Raiders.

Bad news? The Broncos closed the preseason 2-3 for the eighth time in team history. Five times they missed the playoffs. Only twice — 1991 and 2004 — did they reach the postseason.

The Broncos’ pretend season showed some good (defense), some bad (offense), some TBD.

Good news: There’s still time for the Broncos to add a serviceable backup quarterback while Drew Lock rehabs a thumb injury. Swell guy, but journeyman Kevin Hogan isn’t the answer, and rookie Brett Rypien is definitely 23 years old. With Brock Osweiler visiting the Colts on Thursday, another ex-Bronco jumped to mind: Kyle Sloter, who led all NFC quarterbacks with a 146.9 preseason rating. Do it, Broncos. Slotermania, Part II.

Bad news: Sports are merciless. Ask Broncos safety Shamarko Thomas, on the bubble to make the roster when he suffered a hamstring injury in the first quarter. Heartbreaking break.

Good news: The late Pat Bowlen’s succession plan remains intact. An Arapahoe county judge dismissed a lawsuit by Pat’s brother, Bill Bowlen. The ruling made it official: the trustees running the team can execute Pat’s plan as he preferred. “We are pleased at the judge’s ruling. We certainly expected this result,” Broncos CEO Joe Ellis said late Thursday. The smart money’s still on Brittany Bowlen, the 29-year-old daughter, to assume owner duties when the time comes to officially pass the torch.

Bad news: HBO’s “Succession” isn’t a daily program. But it’s a solid remake of the Bowlen drama.

Good news: In the grand tradition of Rod Smith, Dwayne Carswell and Phillip Lindsay, the Broncos found their star undrafted addition. He’s Malik Reed, a pass-rush specialist who added another sack to his resume when he plunked Cardinals quarterback Brett Hundley. Look for Reed to make it 15 of 16 years an undrafted free agent has infiltrated the Broncos roster.

Bad news: That many undrafted free agents suggests Denver hasn't always drafted well.

Good news: Thursday night, wearing No. 88 for the New England Patriots, ex-Bronco Demaryius Thomas caught seven passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns.... in only two quarters.

Bad news: Thursday night, wearing No. 88 for the New England Patriots, ex-Bronco Demaryius Thomas caught seven passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns.... in only two quarters.

Good news: Prior to kickoff, Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph chatted up Broncos executives John Elway and Matt Russell, whose front office fired "VJ" after last season.

Bad news: Joseph chatting up the Broncos while coaching elsewhere was a year overdue. Next.

Good news: Longshot running back Khalfani Muhammad juked and jagged 49 yards for yet another nifty rushing play. The last undrafted free agent from Cal-Berkeley worked out well here, as C.J. Anderson would attest. But is there free space in a crowded room of running backs?

Bad news: Muhammad fumbled on the 2-yard-line. Oopsie.

Good news: Von Miller, healthy, showed Reed a pass-rush move on the sideline. Chris Harris Jr., healthy, yukked it up with Justin Simmons, healthy. Derek Wolfe, healthy. Lindsay, healthy. Joe Flacco, not a hair out of place and healthy. The Broncos escaped the 56-day preseason mostly upright and intact. That's the first step.

Bad news: Jake Butt will undergo another minor knee surgery. Look for Butt to start... on the IR.

Good news: Fangio spent seven months building a foundation of accountability at Dove Valley. Out: locker-room problems Shane Ray, Brandon Marshall. In: no one’s above Fangio’s heavy hand, be it Von Miller, Chris Harris Jr., or the 53rd player on the roster. Long-term progress was made. The Broncos will be well-prepared.

Bad news: Short-term optimism should remain measured. Where’s the juice on offense? That’s the question the Broncos have yet to answer.

Good news: Monday night, Sept. 9, at Oakland. Next time you watch the Broncos, it counts.

Bad news: Zip, zero, nada. Football's back.

(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)

Load comments