Denver Broncos Week 1 Player Grades: Offense

With the Denver Broncos beating the Indianapolis Colts 31-24. How well did certain players perform? Mile High Huddle analyst, Erick Trickel, hands out his offensive position grades.

The game is over. Thankfully, it ended with a Denver Broncos win. After starting off strong in the first half, the Broncos stalled in the second half, especially their offense. The Broncos offense last year was the most consistent and best in the NFL. Obviously, this is not the same unit and it showed during the game.

The Broncos defense also saw a change just before the half, and for the most part, it continued all game. There were some strong looking points for the Broncos defense in the second half, but not many. Last year, the Broncos defense was one of the most inconsistent groups in the NFL. It looks the same this year, just with different names.

Now onto the grades. The starting point is on offense. Where? Well, at the quarterback position of course. The grading system is the A-F system from school. Every player starts at a C, good plays raise their grade, while bad plays lower it.

Note: All stats and snap counts are from They do not do half sacks.

Peyton Manning

Snaps: 77. Stat line: 22-36, 275 yards, 3 touchdowns.

His first half was great. He was surgical in his operation against the Colts defense. Then at halftime, that changed. He wasn’t as precise on his throws and didn’t get help with drops from his receivers. He is still playing at a high level and it showed. His grade: B. He missed some easy throws to wide open receivers, even when he wasn’t pressured, which lowers his grade.

Montee Ball

Snaps: 68. Stat line: 23 attempts, 67 yards, 2.9 yards per carry, 1 touchdown, 2 catches, 16 yards.

Ball had a rough game. He missed his blocking assignment a couple times. His running was poor, but he had little help from the offensive line. When they created a hole, he did really well, but the hole was never opened, or closed early multiple times. Despite that, he keeps his legs churning, never going down easily, which showed on his touchdown run. His grade: C+. Need to see more from him, but he needs help from the offensive line. The lack of push can kill a running back's chances. Final note, 55 of Ball’s yards came after contact.

C.J. Anderson

Snaps: 9. Stat line: 4 attempts, 27 yards, 6.8 yards per carry.

Despite being effective, Anderson was rarely used. He was promoted to the #2 running back, so it was thought he would see a good amount of snaps as the primary backup. But he didn’t. He was good for a nice change to compliment Ball. His grade: B. I wanted to go higher with it, but he wasn’t used as much for how effective he was, which keeps his grade lower.

Juwan Thompson

Thompson saw 1 snap on offense as the fullback. With being the #3 running back, it is slightly surprising he wasn’t used that much. Curious to see if that will change in the next few weeks. His grade: C. He played in the game, though only one snap.

Demaryius Thomas

Snaps: 69. Stat line: 11 targets, 4 catches, 48 yards, 2 drops.

Like the 2013 loss to the Colts, Thomas started out facing off against Vontae Davis, with no success. However, unlike last year, his struggles continued when he was matched up on a different defender. Everyone knows that Thomas is a special receiver, but against the Colts, he didn’t look it. His grade: D+. He just was not the dominating force that Thomas normally is. He struggles vs. press man coverage, which can really hurt him as the NFL moves more towards that.

Emmanuel Sanders

Snaps: 72. Stat line: 9 targets, 6 catches, 77 yards, 1 drop, 1 rush, 11 yards.

So many fans were worried about letting Eric Decker leave for the New York Jets, especially after Sanders missed time in the preseason. Well, Sanders put those worries to rest. He should have anyway. Sanders showed why he was so valued by the Broncos front office and that he is a better fit for this offense than Decker was. His grade: B. Sanders was explosive off the snap. Having a drop does hurt his grade, slightly.

Andre Caldwell

Snaps: 42. Stat line: 5 targets, 2 catches, 16 yards, 1 dropped pass.

With Wes Welker out, Andre Caldwell was the main player to step in and cover those snaps. He had a rough time with his snaps, both as a blocker and receiver. He struggled to get separation a few times. He did bail out the offense when he recovered a fumble. His grade: C-. Caldwell really had a rough game. Playing out of the slot is not his best suit. If he is going to continue to see serious reps while Welker is out, he needs to get separation.

Julius Thomas

Snaps: 70. Stat line: 8 targets, 7 catches, 110 yards, 3 touchdowns.

Julius Thomas was a man on a mission. In a contract year, he is pushing for a big contract and he started out strong. He was virtually unstoppable by the Colts defense. With the other weapons on offense, Julius remains as a mismatch. If they cover him with a linebacker or safety, he wins. If they put a cornerback on him, then someone else is on a mismatch with a safety or linebacker, they win. His grade: A-. Thomas was better as a receiver. His year of experience did wonders helping him with understand defensive concepts and how to exploit it. Only negative is his blocking.

Virgil Green

Snaps: 43. Stat line: 1 target, 1 catch, 8 yards.

Early reports during the offseason spoke about Green’s improvements as a receiver. During the game, he showed flashes to back those statements. However, his total snap count as a receiver is only 9, so seems there are still issues in the coach’s eyes. Green remains the best blocking tight end on the roster, and was utilized in such a way. His grade: B+. While Green doesn’t have the flashy stats that receiving tight ends do, he is reliable as a blocker, which is what makes his grade.

Jacob Tamme

Snaps: 11. Stat line: None.

In a somewhat surprising fashion, Tamme was not utilized as an option to replace Wes Welker, like last year. Instead, Tamme saw most of his reps in two tight end sets, or in the backfield. He was mainly used as a blocker, which is surprising due to it not being his strongest point. However, he did really well. His grade: B-. Tamme did surprisingly well as a blocker, though he did have a few struggles. His biggest issue is reacting to faster defenders coming in to make a play.

Offensive Line: Ryan Clady, Orlando Franklin, Manny Ramirez, Louis Vasquez, Chris Clark.

Snaps: 77 for all. Stat line: 1 sack allowed, 2 hits, 2 hurries.

The pass blocking for the Broncos was excellent. The sack they allowed come from an unblocked blitzer with everyone already engaged. However, the run blocking was poor. A few times they were able to open a lane, but were beaten quickly and the hole closed. They were facing against an underrated run defense, which doesn’t help. Their grades: B-, B-, B+, C-, and B. Clady really struggled in run blocking and looked lost at times. Franklin was badly beaten a few times. Ramirez was very up and down in his blocking, but was the strong point. Vasquez was killed with penalties. Clark had his struggles, but was mostly solid. This was the first full game back for Clady, full game for Clark at RT in a while and Franklin at LG for the first time. Some wrinkles, but they will be ironed out.

The Broncos offense started out great, only to falter in the second half. There are some issues that need to be worked on, but there is a lot of new on this offense, not to mention it was week one. There is plenty of time for the Broncos to get is figured out and settled. No reason to worry. There is a reason there are 16 games in the season and not just one.

You can find Erick Trickel on Twitter @AlaskanBronco.

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