Wish List: Joe Flacco kicks off a long list of Broncos gripes

Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco (5) prepares to pass the ball in the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Flacco was pretty respectable on Thursday night. Denver’s newest signal caller was 7-11 for 59 yards, although he should have been 8-12 for 104. We’ll get to that momentarily. With Flacco chucking the pigskin, the Broncos offense failed to find the endzone for the second preseason game in a row.

When his on-field duties were finished, Flacco was interviewed by sideline reporter Lisa Salters. Flacco was all smiles throughout a fairly predictable conversation, but the most telling statement came when Flacco was brutally honest.

“I wish we got little bit more out of our running game. I wish we didn’t commit some of those penalties,” Flacco said bluntly.

Well, thank you, Joe. And I couldn’t agree more.

Denver’s run game – thanks in large part to the starting offensive line’s least impressive performance of the preseason – was uninspiring. With San Francisco’s defensive line constantly in the Broncos backfield, starters Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman combined for a mere 14 yards on 10 carries. Freeman actually posted zero yards on five carries.

And that penalty, Flacco referred to…

Guess who? Garett Bolles. Holding. The play negated a 45-yard deep reception for Emmanuel Sanders (who looks to be in midseason, very-healthy form). The throw from Flacco was the kind everyone is hoping for – a signature deep ball from Big Arm Joe. Doggon it, that Flacco stat line would have looked pretty snazzy had that one not been called back.

He wishes.

But there was plenty more to wish for on Monday night.

I wish for the same things Joe wishes. But here’s more.

I wish Vic Fangio would have called a timeout just a hair sooner during Drew Lock’s two-minute drill at the end of the first half. Not calling one robbed valuable seconds from Lock, and it would have been nice to see what the young quarterback could have done with them. Turns out, we got to see a Brandon McManus 52-yard field goal. He made it, but, you know, yawn. Furthermore, perhaps Fangio had a plan – making Lock manage a certain type of situation or something – but if the same scenario plays out in late October, you can bet all of Broncos Country will be screaming about poor clock management. We all got pretty good about complaining about how timeouts were and weren’t used by Vance Joseph; we don’t really want to get even better at griping on that front.

Speaking of Lock, I wish he’d have been pulled earlier. If he had, he might not have injured his thumb. X-rays were negative, but Lock left the dressing room wearing a brace. Afterward, Fangio classified the injury as “mild” here’s betting it slows down the youngster’s progression. Given the way he looked in the Hall of Fame Game compared to his performance last night, he’s progressing nicely. Was progressing, that is.

Speaking of progression, Noah Fant was progressing, too. He left the locker room wearing a boot with another “mild” injury to his foot. I wish he wasn’t playing, either. Come to think of it, I wish no starters were playing.

I wish (see “sure do hope”) that was the last time we watch Von Miller and Bradley Chubb play in the preseason. Why. Are. They. Playing?

I wish the Broncos would take a page from the playbook of Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch and stick their star players – rookies and veterans – up in the press box (or wherever Nick Bosa and George Kittle were goofing around last night). Kittle could have (would have) played if it were the regular season. Bosa suffered a somewhat severe ankle injury, so his absence was more justified, but you get the point.

I wish the Broncos special teams were better. They’ve been awful since Brock Olivo and it appears they still are. On Monday, Denver averaged 22 yards on kick returns; the Niners averaged 48. On punt returns, the Broncos averaged 3 yards; San Francisco managed 6. I wish the Broncos would (or could) figure out who their returners will be. I wish they’d stop messing around with guys like River Cracraft. I have nothing against him at all; it’s just that he’s unlikely to crack into the receiving corps on this team, so what’s the point unless he’s a dynamic returner?

I wish the Broncos were deeper in a lot of places – their lack of depth shows up bigtime late in preseason games – namely and especially at middle linebacker. Come to think of it, I still wish they’d have drafted Devin Bush, who was also held out of preseason action recently. He’s got a minor shoulder injury and you can bet the Steelers are (wisely) being extra careful with their prized No. 10 pick. I wish Denver thought that way.

I wish, a lot like the 13,447 no-shows Monday night, that the NFL preseason was over.

I wish it was time for the real thing. Already.

Joe, what else do you wish?

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