Ask Mase: Just how bad were the Broncos on the ground against Dallas?
Before jumping into the questions, a few day-after game thoughts:
1. How bad was the Broncos’ running game as a whole?
Consider this: In the first half, Mike Boone, Max Borghi and Montrell Washington had a combined 8 carries for 5 yards, But that doesn’t tell the entire story.
Boone had three attempts. What all of them have in common is that he was met by a defender behind the line of scrimmage — including on the Broncos’ first offensive snap of the game, when Neville Gallimore got to him 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Simply put, Boone didn’t have a chance.
Neither did Washington, who was hit 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage on his end-around. In the first half, only Borghi carried the football and got to the line of scrimmage without encountering a defender — that happened on three of his four snaps. Among Boone, Borghi and Washington, only Borghi stood a chance Saturday.
2. Almost every team has young wide receivers in their camp that they like. College football has no problem producing wideouts who can be capable at the next level. (It’s more than slightly different for quarterbacks and offensive tackles.)
This is why it’s hard to trade surplus pass-catchers as the roster drops to 85 players, 80 and eventually 53 — and why so many end up passing through waivers and onto their respective teams’ practice squads. It’s also why George Paton turning Trinity Benson and a sixth-round pick into fifth- and seventh-round choices via trade last August was remarkable.
Barring further injuries, the 53-man roster will not have room for all of Washington, Brandon Johnson, Kendall Hinton, Seth Williams, Jalen Virgil and Trey Quinn. And after Washington averaged 22.5 yards on two punt returns Saturday, you can Sharpie him onto the 53-man roster.
Undoubtedly, the Broncos will try to get some of them onto the practice squad. Can Paton trade any of them? I wouldn’t bet against him after last year.
3. Matt Henningsen could make the decision for the final roster spots on the defensive line quite interesting. Given how he became more disruptive after full pads went on and how he had three pressures in 19 plays where he was involved in the pass rush Saturday, it seems like the sixth-rounder is figuring things out. The interesting aspect of Henningsen is that he had a similar rise when he was a freshman walk-on at Wisconsin. Now, it is highly unlikely he will start the first game, as he did for the Badgers in 2018. But he is the epitome of the player who simply finds ways to cause problems for opposing blocking schemes. (And he mentioned after the game that his parents flew out from Wisconsin for the game. Undoubtedly, they are proud.)
4. It was preseason for everybody. The KTVD-Ch. 20 broadcast had some rough edges — the camera not following the action. And the NFL+ archive of the broadcast missed an entire possession. I could almost hear the late Lindsey Nelson saying, “After an exchange of punts, we move ahead to further action in the first quarter.”
Now, time for a few questions:
From Bill in Savannah, Ga.:
Will we see more color-on-color matchups this season?
I hope so. The NFL has grown more flexible on this since its “Color Rush” uniform program came into being in 2014. Although I had to laugh at the comments of ESPN commentator Steve Levy on the KTVD-Ch. 20 broadcast Saturday:
“I don’t know know if it’s a wardrobe malfunction or not, guys — when was the last time you saw two NFL teams in dark jerseys?”
And “dark” is the key word … otherwise, I would have said, “Week 18 of last season.” That’s because Seattle wore gray in its last game with Russell Wilson, facing the red-shirted Arizona Cardinals.
But when Seattle traveled to Arizona a year earlier, the Seahawks wore their highlighter-green jerseys, while the Cardinals wore black. (I know Seattle calls them “action green,” but come on.)
Strangely, there were no dark color-vs.-dark color games in the NFL last year — unless you count the Seahawks’ gray or the Rams’ “bone” jerseys, which are now their alternates since they finally realized that “dirty socks” isn’t a pleasing jersey color. So, there was no chance of a matchup like the Broncos’ orange-vs.-pewter duel with the Buccaneers in 2020, or the 2019 game in which the Broncos wore orange while the Browns dressed in brown jerseys and pants (with orange numbers that were difficult to discern from a distance).
The NFL doesn’t have any restrictions on these sorts of matchups any longer, although it will step in and prevent color clashes — or games that affect people with common forms of colorblindness.
For example, you won’t see Chiefs-Jets in red and green. In 2015, the NFL drew criticism for the Bills-Jets duel in which the teams wore red and green, respectively. Red-green colorblindness is common, which resulted in the game looking like this:
— Jody Avirgan (@jodyavirgan) November 13, 2015
(This, by the way, was the first Color Rush game.)
And don’t expect orange-vs.-red.
But there is little reason why the Broncos could not wear orange when the Raiders wear black — or vice versa. Or how about orange for Week 1 when the Seahawks likely go blue from head-to-toe?
The only reason white jerseys were mandated was because of the prominence of black-and-white televisions. It was in 1957 when each team was mandated to add a white jersey to their ensembles.
With black-and-white televisions having long since gone the way of the landfill, it’s time to ditch the general custom that one team must wear white — or something close to it — for the type of approach used in soccer and, now, the NBA.
This inspired an #askmase question. How do you come up with questions you ask during pressers? Do you have a story you’re working and ask questions that aid in that story? What’s the method behind the madness?
— Brandon Kirk (@albukirky) August 10, 2022
Sometimes, I will have a few questions in mind before availability starts. For example, when Vic Fangio met media after the season finale last January, I knew I was going to ask him about the team’s poor AFC West form and what separated the other three teams from Denver.
Vic Fangio’s answer to my question about what separates the other teams in the AFC West from the Broncos.
He opened by saying, “Those other three teams have top-shelf quarterbacks, which is obvious to everybody."pic.twitter.com/MXPq2Mknfo
— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) January 9, 2022
(I did not expect such bracing candor on the quarterbacks, but he wasn’t wrong.)
But often, I don’t have questions in mind heading into the process. This is one reason why I don’t particularly care to have a subject in mind about which to write when I start a day on the beat.
Almost inevitably, an answer leads to a story that you didn’t consider when the day began. But the key is to actually listen to what the interview or press-conference subject says. I’ve ditched many story ideas because the subject revealed something that sent the interview or press conference in another direction.
Got a question? Submit it here to be a part of the next edition of the “Ask Mase” mailbag, dropping weekly at DenverFan.com!