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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Broncos v/ Cardinals: The Most Misleading Game of the Year

So, a guy named Brandstater outplayed a couple guys named Kurt Warner and Matt Leinart tonight. Which, given that it’s the fourth pre-season game of what will probably be remembered as the Broncos’ Great Lost Season, probably means not too much at all. Still, a 19-0 win keeps the Broncos from having a completely winless pre-season. In years like these, you take what you can get.

The Broncos looked pretty good in the first half (especially the first quarter), but the second half, filled mostly with the extra-scrubbed scrubs, was slow and filled with mistakes.  Not that there was a tremendous amount of name recognition in the first half (Champ Bailey played a grand total of four plays, for example), but we saw a few players who will likely make the final roster, and Brandstater certainly solidified his position as back-up to the back-up. For that matter, another guy named Walker made a reasonable case for being the Broncos’ fifth running back, and Prater reminded the faithful of why we spent half a season thinking that letting Jason Elam escape the team wasn’t a mistake.

Who knows if Prater will manage to keep us in that blissful state through an entire season this time.

Other good--if a little bit illusory--news: the defense looked good in chasing Card’s scrubs around the field for that first half. With a four man rush, they managed to get pressure on almost every play.

But when so many of the players in the game won’t ever see another game as Broncos (and many will never see another pro game again), it doesn’t tell us much about how the team will perform in the regular season. It’s one giant head fake.

You can almost count on someone trying to start a quarterback controversy, though. Someone will try to sell the idea that Brandstater should be the starting quarterback, especially given his longer throws. One of the big knocks on Orton in the pre-season is that every throw has been short- or medium-range. It’s a fair hit, and Brandstater certainly showed a little arm tonight, but Brandstater also made some big rookie mistakes in reads and decisions. He very well may be a starter in the league some day, but throwing him in right now wouldn’t be doing him, Orton, or Broncos fans much of a favor.

The real season starts soon, Broncos fans. I hope that this doesn’t turn out to be the high point of the year.

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