The first two preseason games have not been ideal for Case Keenum and the Denver Broncos starting offense, but that is not the point of preseason. This portion of the NFL year is all about gaining a level of comfort with teammates and rounding off the rough edges. Really, there is no better way to sum it up than how Keenum did after the Broncos game against the Chicago Bears.
“It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being excellent,” Keenum said. “It’s just about trusting the process of coming in every day, working hard and pursuing excellence.”
The Broncos are in unfamiliar territory. Outside of their two starting wide receivers, the offense is fundamentally different. Keenum is the new starting quarterback, C.J. Anderson is no longer on the team leaving Royce Freeman and Devontae Booker are fighting for the starting tailback role. Oh, and the offensive line has been reconfigured too.
Without a doubt, Denver is stepping into a new era of Broncos football and there are still some kinks to work through.
In Denver’s first preseason game, the starting offensive unit only had two drives before the reserves were substituted into the game. In those two drives, Keenum failed to lead the Broncos to a single first down and they only had six total plays. Their next game was against the Bears after a couple joint practices together. In that outing, Keenum and the starting offense was significantly better, but there are still improvements to be made.
“First drive, I definitely want that third-down ball back,” Keenum said after the Bears game. “There’s probably three or four balls I want back. Man, I thought for not being perfect, I thought we moved the ball, converted third downs, and scored points. I think that says something in this league.”
That is the improvement the Broncos were looking for from week one to week two of preseason football. They began to string together offensive drives that felt comfortable and repeatable. By the end of the Broncos matchup with the Bears, Denver head coach Vance Joseph was happy with the improvement even with knowing that there was still work to do.
“It’s preseason, so you want to see progress every week,” Joseph said. “Obviously next week we want to see more progress. That’s what [the preseason is] for. I was pleased from that standpoint.”
Now Denver has an opportunity tonight to continue displaying their improvements when they take the field against the Washington Redskins. But for this game, there will be a slight difference. After taking on the Bears and putting together some offensive movement, Keenum’s confidence and comfortability has take a significant step forward.
“It felt like football again at that point,” Keenum said. “It felt like how we’ve been performing and making plays in practice. So it was good to have that come out on that field, and it felt good to put the ball in the end zone.”
Keenum — who prides himself on consistent growth — knows that there is still a lot of improvement still to be had for him personally, and the rest of the Broncos team. If they want to reach their goals, constant progression and growth is the only way they will get there and that battle for progress starts on Friday night in Washington.
“I mean for me, I always want to be better,” Keenum said. “I’m probably going to say that Week 1, Week 17, into the playoffs. There’s always going to be more out there for me. I think that’s just my mindset. I know that’s [my teammates’] mindset, too. We’ll learn from it and grow.”