NFL Nation: 2012 Broncos-Bears preseason

Observation deck: Broncos-Bears

August, 9, 2012

A look at the Broncos’ 31-3 road win Thursday night:

Yes, Peyton Manning's first game action in 19 months ended with an interception near the goal line.

However, there is no other way to slice it -- Manning’s Denver Broncos debut was a success.

"He was remarkable," Denver coach John Fox said in halftime quotes distributed by the team. "He came back -- he’s worked very hard. He hasn’t played football in [almost] two years. I thought it was a good first drive in these conditions -- it was sloppy. It was sloppy by the receivers as far as the conditions but I thought it was a very good first outing."

On a rainy night in Chicago, Manning, who missed all of last season with a neck injury, completed 4 of 7 passes for 44 yards. He had a dropped pass and his interception came from a deflection of a pass intended for Brandon Stokley on what could have been a touchdown. I’m sure Manning and the Broncos will live with his first preseason game ending on a deflected interception.

Manning looked crisp and he led the offense at a fast tempo. He showed his patented anticipation and accuracy on a 19-yard bullet to Eric Decker on third-and-17.

This is a work in progress and the Broncos have to be pleased with the first step.

Meanwhile, it was a strong overall night from the Broncos. Denver looked pretty good.

Defensive lineman Derek Wolfe, a second-round pick, was a stud. He had two sacks. He has been outstanding in the training camp and he was just as aggressive against the Bears.

Overall, Denver’s defense looked good. It was aggressive and made a lot of plays on every layer of the defense.

Second-round pick Brock Osweiler looked comfortable at quarterback, completing 4 of 7 passes for 38 yards. Caleb Hanie was OK, but I can see Osweiler pushing him for the No. 2 job at some point this year.

Overall, this was a good first night for Manning and his new team.
Quarterback Kevin Kolb could have played better during his brief 2012 exhibition debut for the Arizona Cardinals.

In taking a closer look at the Hall of Fame Game from Sunday, however, it's clear coach Ken Whisenhunt was right about protection problems putting Kolb in tough situations.

Right guard Adam Snyder appeared to have trouble in particular.

A quick review of the four pass plays featuring Kolb behind center:
  • Pass play No. 1: Saints defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis beat Snyder quickly and was bearing down on Kolb while the quarterback attempted a pass to the left side. Kolb did not appear to see cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, who picked off the pass. Pressure did not appear to be a primary factor on the play.
  • Pass play No. 2: The protection appeared solid here. Kolb looked right and threw for Andre Roberts' back shoulder. Quarterback and receiver did not appear in tune on this play. It was tough to assign blame to one over the other. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock thought Roberts needed to show greater awareness.
  • Pass play No. 3: This was a third-and-12 play, a tough situation for offensive linemen. Defensive end Cameron Jordan used a violent club move to rock Snyder off balance. Snyder's feet crossed over as he moved backward. Jordan, with a clear path toward Kolb, forced the quarterback from the pocket. Kolb got rid of the ball.
  • Pass play No. 4: The Saints rushed six, but only two of the rushers were aligned against the right side of the offense. That left Snyder and right tackle Jeremy Bridges in one-on-one situations. Bridges blocked defensive end Will Smith. Ellis beat Snyder initially, then trailed Smith around the outside. Snyder couldn't recover in time to factor on the play, especially with Smith blocking his path. Fullback Anthony Sherman released into a pass pattern. Halfback LaRod Stephens-Howling picked up the blitz on the other side of the formation. Kolb had to move, and he did. Kolb threw accurately against intense pressure, completing the pass to Sherman. Ellis hit Kolb and landed on him, knocking Kolb from the game.

The net effect was a negative one for Kolb. He suffered another injury and wasn't able to help his cause in competition with John Skelton for the starting job. But in looking closely at what went wrong, we see shared blame for what happened.

Snyder's performance will be important for the Cardinals this season. The team signed him from San Francisco to a five-year deal averaging $3.5 million per season. For all the scrutiny left tackle Levi Brown has attracted, the Cardinals' biggest question marks on the line originate on the right side.