DENVER – Three observations from the Broncos’ preseason win over the Seattle Seahawks at Sports Authority Field at Mile High:
1. QUARTERBACKS UNDER SIEGE.
In a welcome change from last year, it’s not Kyle Orton who is under attack when the Broncos play. Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was sacked four times by the Broncos’ first-team defense and hurried on five other occasions. When Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil, Robert Ayers, Wesley Woodyard and Joe Mays left the game, they had rendered Jackson beaten; he only completed eight of 17 passes for 56 yards and against them. Jackson went 5-of-5 for 37 yards and a touchdown against a second unit that included some third-teamers as a result of injury.
Miller had two sacks; Dumervil 1.5. As the bookend pass rushers, they complement each other perfectly; the only stress in the arrangement comes from Dumervil having to accept that he will no longer necessarily be the first man to the quarterback.
“He’s beating me!” Dumervil said, smiling. “But he’s doing a great job. He’s making the whole defense better. Having a guy like that on the other side has been tremendous for us.”
It also creates tactical flexibility for defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. The two pass rushers swapped sides, and on one play even lined up as stand-up outside linebackers in a 3-4 alignment.
“(Allen) is a great coach. We all trust him in his calls,” said Miller. “He’s a wizard.”
The last two weeks, Miller and Dumervil have made Allen look like Dumbledore. But which one of the duo is the Broncos’ Harry Potter?
2. TEBOW IS TEBOW.
He led a last-minute drive to a game-winning field goal, but he couldn’t quite field a low snap from Manuel Ramirez and was forced to take a 5-yard loss. His two best passes were darts fired as he moved out of the pocket, but his attempts to elude defenders inside the pocket appeared to be putting his own safety in peril. When he was able to elude defenders and move into open space, his throws were natural and crisp; when he worked in the pocket — be it intact or collapsing — the ball didn’t always go where it wanted.
The second-year quarterback’s skill set, strengths and weaknesses were on display Saturday, and the performance encapsulated everything that his pro career has been to this point: dramatic, occasionally brilliant, but still in need of refinement.
His work under duress seemed to summarize his night the most. Tebow could have easily taken off and run, but he more often didn’t.
“Those are opportunities to make big plays, when they have some pressure and you’re able to escape outside,” Tebow said.
“I’m not looking to run. I’m looking to pass and make a play downfield. We were able to make a few today.”
He made enough to keep his supporters pleased, but probably not enough to prevent his detractors from crowing.
3. THE KICKING JOB APPEARS TO BE PRATER’S.
This isn’t a result of anything Steven Hauschka did or didn’t do. In fact, if one was to compile a list of the 32 best placekickers in the world, Hauschka would be on that list; thus, he should — and almost certainly will — have a job somewhere in the NFL.
But Matt Prater’s leg strength virtually guarantees that kickoff coverage will not be an issue for the Broncos — especially at home, where he sends the football through the mile-high air and out of the end zone with stunning ease. Prater can put all of his energies into field goals, which led to a successful 57-yarder that could have been good from 75 yards out and a 69-yard attempt that had the accuracy but fell about two yards short of the crossbar.
“I didn’t catch it as good,” Prater said. “I just got excited for a long attempt and didn’t hit it as good.”
When even your mis-hits would still be good from 65 yards, you’ve got something going. Even though Prater’s legal issues remain unresolved, they haven’t impeded his kicking, which is why it would be an upset if Hauschka snatches the position.