The Denver Broncos’ preseason loss this past Friday evening against the Arizona Cardinals gave Sean Payton and his coaching staff valuable insight into what needs to be addressed before the regular season approaches.

Three things the Denver Broncos need to address before the season arrives

The expectations for the Denver Broncos are always high year in and year out. Still, the constant eruption of the ‘sky is falling’ narrative has already crept into social media conversations. It’s important to understand that the preseason isn’t an indicator for how the regular season will play out.

Protection issues on the Denver Broncos offensive line need to be fixed quickly

Russell Wilson and the Broncos’ first-team offense saw four series of play during Friday’s preseason opener. They scored once out of those four drives, and some of the issues can be chalked up to pressure and quarterback hits.

The Arizona Cardinals sent more pressure at Wilson in the preseason than teams normally do. Often at times, preseason football is very vanilla on offense and defense.

The Cardinals sent various Cover 0 blitz looks at Wilson in Friday’s game, creating more rushers than blockers.

Earlier in the game, Wilson was sacked off the left side by a Cardinals defender who saw success in a one-on-one rep against Garett Bolles. This was his first game back since suffering a major injury last season.

Rust is expected as he looks to get more comfortable with his stance, kick step, and movement at left tackle. How he looks going forward will be under the microscope, and concern will grow only if the issue persists.

Communication amongst the entire offensive line is key for Wilson to have time to throw and operate within the offense’s structure that Sean Payton demands.

Denver Broncos kicking competition needs a bit more time

Friday’s preseason opener wasn’t pretty for the Denver Broncos’ ongoing kicking competition between Brett Maher and Elliott Fry.

Both players missed their first kicks on Friday, presenting questions about whether or not Denver’s kicker for the regular season is on the roster. It’s entirely too early to move away from either player at this point.

Maher missed his first attempt of the evening, and his second attempt was deflected due to a blocking error. Fry missed his first attempt but nailed a 55-yarder before halftime.

Both players made their extra points. This week’s game against the San Francisco 49ers is the perfect opportunity to figure out whether or not Denver needs to move on from one or both kickers.

The sample size is important, and both kickers don’t have a large enough sample rate to make a definitive decision. Even though they missed, they moved on from former kicker Brandon McManus because he was far too inconsistent.

Can backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham get more into rhythm

Denver Broncos backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham didn’t have the cleanest debut on Friday against the Arizona Cardinals. While he’s had a solid training camp, he’s sometimes struggled with hesitancy.

Some of that carried over into Friday’s game, going 5-of-15 passing for 50 yards and an interception. On his interception, he appeared to be a little late on his throw on a comeback route by the wide receiver.

Not everything is entirely on Stidham himself, but pass protection and penalties impacted some of the series he was in for. Meanwhile, Ben DiNucci came in and was noticeably more decisive, throwing and getting the ball out of his hands quickly.

DiNucci finished the evening going 7-of-9 passing for 57 yards, including several nice throws to undrafted rookie free agent Taylor Grimes.

As the team returns to practice this week, Stidham will get the chance to adjust.

Having game tape allows Sean Payton and Davis Webb to build a structure around what they’ll need to work on for Stidham to operate under center within this scheme effectively.