The Denver Broncos offense played lights out yet again. With how well the offense has been performing, they are nearly unstoppable. Every component has it's role, as with any team. The difference for the Broncos is, every component is clicking. The concern should be, is the offense starting to hit their stride too early? Well, that is up for debate, but it's not one for this time.
After struggling the first few games, the Broncos have found a running game. However, it still has room for improvement. So does the passing game. The offense may be performing at a near perfect level, but it is the NFL; perfect is always allusive and the Broncos are not there yet. They have almost passed the tough point of their schedule. Don’t be surprised if they pull back on the reins just a little bit.
With that said, onto the player grades. As always, each players starts off with a C. A positive play raises their grade, while a negative play lowers it. Like every other week, we will start out at the quarterback position.
Snaps: 71. Stats: 25/35 for 291 yards and 3 touchdowns.
For the month of October, it is hard to find another quarterback who has been more impressive than Manning. Obviously, that includes his performance against the Chargers. While Manning was not as close to perfection as he was vs the 49ers, he was his normal, methodical self, as he picked apart the secondary. His grade: B+.
Snaps: 55. Stats: 20 attempts for 109 yards. 4 targets, with 3 catches for 29 yards.
Hillman has been the fire the Broncos needed at running back. He continued his streak of great play, this time only missing out on a touchdown he so deserved. The Chargers defense had very little luck in trying to stop him, as his speed and burst gave them fits. As a runner or receiver, it didn’t matter. They could not find a way to stop him. His grade: A-.
Snaps: 13. Stats: 7 attempts for 24 yards and 2 touchdowns. 1 target, with 0 catches.
While Hillman kept the Chargers on their heels with his speed, Thompson kept them on their backs with his power. Every time he touched the ball, it took multiple defenders to bring him down. That is something that you want to see with your running backs. Fantasy Football owners who own Hillman probably want to give Thompson an F for stealing the touchdowns. His grade: B+.
Snaps: 2. Stats: 1 attempt for 0 yards.
Anderson has fallen from grace among the Broncos running backs. He had a big role, only to fall down the depth chart. When Montee Ball is back and healthy, it will be interesting to see if Anderson gets any offensive snaps. His grade: C.
Snaps: 65. Stats: 12 targets, with 8 catches for 105 yards. Also dropped 2 passes.
For the AFC player of the month, there should be two Denver Broncos in the running; Manning and Thomas. Thomas has rebounded from his slump to start the season, only to play at an extraordinary level. Whenever he is on the field, he is a threat and it shows with how defenses defend against him. Well, when they try to defend against him. Thomas seems to defend himself more than the opponent by dropping easy catches at times. His grade: A-.
Snaps: 63. Stats: 1 rush for 6 yards. 9 targets, with 9 catches for 125 yards and 3 touchdowns.
It is lucky that the Broncos were able to sign Sanders. He almost signed with New England and with Kansas City, yet Denver came in and “stole” him away. It has paid dividends for the Broncos offense. His speed and ability to stretch the field is an upgrade to what the Broncos had a year ago. He compliments what the other offensive weapons do, which makes the offense so dangerous. Pick one to stop and the others will hurt you. His grade: A.
WR Wes Welker
Snaps: 55. Stats: 2 targets, with 2 catches for 5 yards.
Against the Chargers, Welker had an impact on three plays. One, to gain the Broncos a first down late in the game. The second, to recover a fumble, so the Broncos retained possession. The final play was drawing a defensive holding penalty, on a Peyton Manning interception, giving the Broncos back the ball. He is an undervalued weapon in this offense, often forgotten by the fans and opposing defenses. Eventually, Manning and the Broncos offense is going to exploit that. His grade: B+.
Snaps: 7. Stats: None.
Why is he active on gameday? He offers the Broncos offense very little, both as a blocker and a receiver. He hurt himself with a poor return game, coughing up a fumble that was, thankfully for the Broncos, incorrectly overturned. It is past time to make a switch to Cody Latimer. Latimer lacks the experience, but even seeing a handful of snaps, gets him some experience. Caldwell’s grade: D-.
Snaps: 61. Stats: 5 targets, with 2 catches for 23 yards with 1 dropped pass.
Thomas is a valuable receiving option for the Broncos, but his blocking is still suspect. The coaching staff have recognized this and have started running away from Thomas against the Chargers, instead of behind him. Thomas’ contract is up after this season. But he turned down a big deal worth $8.5M per year from the Broncos. For an incomplete tight end, it's hard to see Thomas getting more elsewhere. His grade: B-.
TE Virgil Green
Snaps: 14. Stats: None.
Green has been a great blocker for the Broncos. Game after game he comes in and does what is needed. Very rarely does he fail to execute his assignment. He is in need of a bigger role in the offense, one where he isn't just a blocker. With how great he has been blocking, maybe the Broncos should put him in at center. Joking aside, he has been excellent in his limited role. His grade: A-.
TE Jacob Tamme
Snaps: 9. Stats: 1 target, with 1 catch for 4 yards.
Tamme is the perfect teammate. He willingly does whatever is asked of him, no matter what, or how big or small his role is. Tamme could be a starter on almost any other team. Instead, he sits on the bench in Denver as a small part of the offense. But, if Denver ever has to call on him, Tamme will show up in a big way, just like he did against the Chargers. He caught a pass early for 4 yards, which is not the best part of his game. The best part was being hard for a Chargers defender to defend, and getting a defensive pass interference call to help out the Broncos offense. His grade: B.
LT Ryan Clady
Snaps: 71. Stats: None.
Clady has been really good for the Broncos since returning, but he has had his ups and downs. That continued against the Chargers. He is still one of the best pass blocking left tackles in the NFL, but his issues come in the run game. He was pushed back or beaten multiple times in the run game vs the Chargers. Even in pass protection, he had a few fails, but got bailed out by help from elsewhere. His grade: B-.
Snaps: 71. Stats: 1 QB hit, 1 QB hurry.
It is surprising that the Broncos offense did not get called for more penalties than they did. Franklin needs to consider himself lucky. On top of the penalties he did get called for, there were 6 more that he should have been. All of them blatantly obvious, with a big impact on the play, with the exception of one as it should have been unnecessary roughness after the play was over. His grade: D.
Snaps: 71. Stats: None.
Ramirez continues to be the weak point on the offense line. A replacement is needed, but at this point in the season, it is hard to make the switch at center, especially with Manning at QB. Multiple times vs the Chargers, Ramirez made mistakes. A few times he disengaged when a defender ran right past him. He seems out of sync and out of place on this Broncos offensive line. His grade: F.
Snaps: 71. Stats: None.
Vasquez is hurt. Not physically, he is hurt by the fact he plays next to Ramirez. Often, he was seen trying to cover up a mistake by Ramirez, and that hurt him. He got beat in run blocking multiple times because of that. His grade: B.
RT Paul Cornick
Snaps: 71. Stats: 1 hurry.
After having a rough time against the 49ers, Cornick rebounded with great play against the Chargers. He did allow a pressure, but was otherwise excellent in pass protection. With it being only his second game as a starter, Cornick looks to be a big upgrade. The run game is doing a whole lot better and pass protection is more solid and consistent. His grade: B+.
Snaps: 11. Stats: None.
Benching Clark helped out this offense a lot. He was a weak link in run blocking and struggled in pass protection. Now that he is used as the 6th offensive linemen, those struggles are not as impactful, though they still exist. His grade: D+.
There is always room for improvement, but this offense is a bigger threat than they were a year ago, when they set so many records. Their passing game is more diverse and they have an efficient run game to balance it out. Defenses are hard pressed to stop them. This offense is a "pick your poison" type. Stop one and get beat elsewhere. That isn’t just in the passing game either, but if you stop their passing game they can now effectively beat you team on the ground.