The Denver Broncos were unable to pull out the overtime victory against the Seattle Seahawks this past week. After getting down to a 17-3 deficit, until the fourth quarter, they managed to tie the ball game up at 20, with just seconds left in regulation.
Up until those final moments, the offense was lackluster. It is believed that the loss of a player on offense really took away from the Broncos' game-plan. If that’s the reason for the offensive struggles, then the team needs to learn the concept of in-game adjustments. In the fourth quarter it looked like they changed things up. It is a shame they didn’t do it earlier. If they did, Denver could have won.
Now, onto the player grades. Each player starts off with a C, a positive play raises their grades, while a negative play lowers the grade. As always, we start on the offense, at the quarterback position.
Note: All stats are from ProFootballFocus.com (Subscription required)
Snaps: 75. Stat line: 31-47, 303 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception.
Manning had a tough time with some inaccurate throws against Seattle, but then at times, he was amazing with his ball placement. This is typical for most quarterbacks, but Peyton Manning isn’t most quarterbacks. He was way off on multiple throws, which he surely wanted back right away. His grade: D+. The interception really hurt his grade, but not because of the timing of it. Why it hurt his grade so much is because he never should have thrown the ball. Welker was bracketed by defenders. Meanwhile, another receiver was open crossing the middle.
Snaps: 57. Stat line: 14 rushes, 38 yards, 2 forced missed tackles, 1 fumble, 2 targets, 2 catches, 6 yards.
Besides a fumble, Ball did the most he could with the blocking he was getting up front. The few times he got good blocking, he got a good gain. His grade: D-. His fumble killed his grade. It was early and only turned into three points, but the turnover handed Seattle momentum. That makes it two big games vs Seattle, both with a turnover on the first offensive snap by the Broncos.
Snaps: 14. Stat line: 2 rushes, 2 yards, 3 targets, 1 catch, 7 yards.
After being in the doghouse since the trip to Dallas at the end of the preseason, Hillman finally crawled out of it vs Seattle. The coaching staff was probably turning to him to provide some kind of spark, which he failed to deliver. His grade: C-. Hillman is a speed back who often goes down on first contact, yet he was tasked with runnning in the A and B gap. It's not his fault that those were the plays called.
Snaps: 3. Stat line: 2 rushes, negative 3 yards, 1 target, 1 catch, 1 yard.
Finally, everyone calling for Anderson to start were able to see that the offensive line is largely to blame for the lack of running game. Anderson felt the effects of the poor run blocking. It's hard to do anything when your longest run was for negative 1 yard. His grade: C. He had three snaps and was involved in each one. He looked good, but couldn’t get a solid read with the bad blocking.
Snaps: 1. Stat line: None.
Thompson came in on offense for one play as a run block, and failed. His grade: C-. It would’ve been nice to see him get a few chances to carry the ball. Being the low man on the totem pole makes it hard to climb higher, without being given opportunities.
Snaps: 73. Stat line: 9 targets, 4 catches, 31 yards, 1 dropped pass, 2 point conversion.
Thomas was having such a bad game at one point that fans were calling for him to be benched. The issue is, Thomas is always a threat. You never know when he will make a big play, just ask Richard Sherman. His grade: C+. Thomas showed why he can’t be benched and redeemed his grade on one play. He was matched up against, arguably, the best CB in the NFL and made the amazing catch for a 2 point conversion to tie the game at 20.
Snaps: 73. Stat line: 15 targets, 11 catches, 149 yards.
Sanders is on fire! For his second week in a row, he has over 100 yards receiving. He proved to be a big difference maker in this offense against Seattle, compared to the Super Bowl. He is so quick and shifty. He matches up amazingly well against that defense. His grade: A+. Sanders was one of, if not the only, bright spot for the offense throughout the game. Everyone else’s struggles make him shine even brighter.
Snaps: 47. Stat line: 9 targets, 6 catches, 60 yards.
After missing the first two games, Welker showed exactly how important he is for this offense. He was able to convert short catches for first downs. Watching the game live, it was hard to see how key he was. The Broncos struggled to move the ball even more than in the first two games. But, rewatching the game, it is clear that it wasn’t his fault. His grade: B. Welker was borderline excellent. Just a few whiffed blocks kept his grade from being higher.
Snaps: 3. Stat line: None.
With Welker back, the use of Caldwell seems to be regulated to kick return duties, unless an injury occurs, or to give a starter a breather. His grade: C-. Normally, for so few snaps the grade will be a C. But, in the case of Caldwell he was used as a blocker and failed twice, which lowered his grade.
Snaps: 73. Stat line: 4 targets, 3 catches, 17 yards, 1 touchdown.
After the first drive, Julius Thomas became invisible until later in the game. On the first drive he was seen reaching for a touchdown pass that fell incomplete. Denver settled for a field goal. Part of the problem was being kept in to block. Something Thomas cannot do well. His grade: D. It isn’t his fault that he wasn’t targeted until late in the game. What is his fault though, is his poor blocking. Time and again, he failed.
Snaps: 13. Stat line: 1 target, 1 catch, 10 yards, 1 rush, no yards, 1 forced miss tackle.
Green is believed to have been a big part of the game-plan, mainly because of his blocking prowess. So, when he went out with a concussion after rushing the ball, it makes sense that the offense started to struggle even more. His grade: B. If he didn’t leave the game, odds are his grade would have been even higher.
Snaps: 18. Stat line: 3 targets, 2 catches, 22 yards, 1 touchdown.
When Green left the game, Tamme stepped in. Now, Tamme is a decent blocker, but nowhere near the level of Green. However, Tamme is a more developed receiver and trusted in the passing game. His grade: B+. Tamme is Mr. Reliable for this Broncos team. Whenever they need someone to step in, he is the man.
Offensive Line: Ryan Clady, Orlando Franklin, Manny Ramirez, Louis Vasquez, Chris Clark
Snaps: 75 for all. Stat line: Clady- 2 QB hits, 2 QB hurries, Franklin- 1 QB hurry, Ramirez- 1 QB hit, 3 QB hurries, Vasquez- 3 QB hits, Clark- 1 QB hit, 2 QB hurries.
The offensive line started off amazing in pass protection. That changed as the game went on. They stayed a solid unit throughout the game, just didn’t stay at the high level. Run blocking on the other hand, their grades were: Clady D+, Franklin C-, Ramirez C+, Vasquez C+, Clark D-. This unit has to get it together in the run game. If they don’t, this will be a long season for the Broncos. Their poor run blocking killed the grades. Three games in, there is no excuse for them doing as bad as they are.
Thankfully, the bye week is here. The coaching staff needs to pull their offensive linemen aside and get that unit jumpstarted. It is a must for this offense to grow and improve. If they don’t get the run game going, it is hard to have confidence that they will win the Super Bowl. Running the ball is still a very important aspect and the Broncos showed they can’t be one dimensional and win it all.