Division games are never easy, and when the Denver Broncos first got the ball on Sunday, it looked like it would be a tough, hard-fought battle. After all, these Oakland Raiders, despite being win-less, went into New England and Seattle and played tough games. The Raiders did lose both of those games, but so did Denver and against New England, they lost in a more embarrassing fashion.
The play by the Broncos offense started off really rough on Sunday. There were multiple miscues, but they still moved the ball down the field into the redzone, where they would stall and end up coming away with a total of six points. On top of that, the Raiders took the ball away twice.
Eventually, the Broncos offense got a spark. It started with an interception made by their defense, and then a 51-yard touchdown catch and run. Once that occurred, the flood gates opened and the Broncos took control of the game. Players who started off struggling turned it around, to put in a good overall game.
Now, onto the player grades. As always will start out at the quarterback position. Each player starts off with a C grade. A positive play increases their grade, while a negative play decreases it.
Snaps: 67. Stats: 31/44 for 340 yards, with 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. 2 passes were dropped.
Manning started the game off rough. He looked jittery and was forcing passes into bad coverage. Doing so led the way for his first pick. His second pick came off of a great play by the defense, but the Broncos tried the same play again later in the game with great success, as it went for a long touchdown. Towards the end of the first half, Manning calmed down and when he did, the offense started their romp. His grade: B.
Snaps: 17. Stats: 2/5 for 13 yards. 1 pass was dropped. 3 rushes for 2 yards.
Osweiler came into the game in the fourth quarter when the Broncos had the game well in hand. Though he is given only one drop, it could be argued a receiver dropped another pass. He was quick on his reads and decisive. He looked in control out there and not nervous. All in all, he put in a good showing with what the coaching staff let him do. It needs remembered that they give him a short leash. No risky plays, just finish the game out to give the Broncos the win. His grade: B-.
Snaps: 32. Stats: 6 rushes for 13 yards, with 1 forced missed tackle. Targeted 4 times, with 2 catches for 9 yards. Dropped 2 passes.
When Hillman touched the ball, the offense seemed to stutter and eventually, come to a halt. He hurt his foot in the game, but even before that he looked bad. He looked unsure of himself and what to do with the ball. He also dropped a pass in the redzone, at about the two yard line, which would’ve easily been a touchdown for the Broncos. That drive ended with a field goal instead, leaving four points on the field. No big deal in a blowout win, but it is inexcusable. If the game was close, those four points could be the difference between a win and a loss. His grade: D+.
Snaps: 44. Stats: 1 QB hurry allowed. 13 rushes for 90 yards, with 1 forced missed tackle. Targeted 6 times, with 4 catches for 73 yards and 1 touchdown. Dropped 1 pass.
Anderson made the big play to spark the offense. He caught a pass, one handed, behind the line of scrimmage and made multiple Raiders miss on his way to the endzone. Even before that, he was playing a good game. He ran the ball extremely well, and on the Broncos two redzone field goal drives, they stopped giving the ball to Anderson, despite how great he was doing. At that point he had almost 7 yards per rush, yet they still went away from him. After his touchdown, they went back to him when they needed some tough yards picked up, and he picked them up. His grade: A.
Snaps: 10. Stats: 4 rushes for 8 yards, with 1 fumble.
Thompson was the #2 running back, but he did nothing to cement himself in that position. When the Broncos called his number, he looked bad. He had a hard time picking up yards and on one of his better runs, he fumbled the ball. His grade: D-.
Snaps: 65. Stats: Targeted 13 times, with 11 catches for 108 yards.
When the Broncos offense was struggling, Thomas was one of the few bright spots. He was catching whatever was thrown his way and fighting for extra yards. He played a great game from start to finish. As usual, his blocking was great as well. There was nothing negative worth noting about Thomas’ game. His grade: A.
Snaps: 70. Stats: 1 rush for 5 yards. Targeted 7 times, with 5 catches for 67 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Even though Sanders didn’t get 100 yards receiving, he was the best receiver out there for the Broncos in the passing game. He made multiple tough catches, including one for a big gain. On top of that, he cleared room for other receivers by drawing coverage to him. His speed, quickness and agility hurt the Raiders but they couldn’t afford to not shift coverage his way. Of course, they couldn’t afford to shift it either. His only bad showings came when he was asked to block. He tries hard, but just gets beat. Part of that is due to his small size. His grade: B+.
WR Wes Welker
Snaps: 70. Stats: Targeted 5 times, with 4 catches for 24 yards.
Welker is underrated. He is consistently forgotten by fans because he doesn’t put up the numbers he used to. Why? It is because of how he is used. He has taken on more of a decoy-like role, where his job is to open up others. He does just that. Multiple times, he came on a crossing route, pulling the defensive back, who was covering someone else, just enough to open space for Manning to hit the other receiver. When Welker is called upon as a target, he executes his job, with few exceptions on the season. He also is solid as a blocker, for a player of his size. His grade: B-.
Snaps: 17. Stats: Targeted 1 time, with no catches.
The Broncos are nine games into the season and Caldwell has not had a catch since the season opener. He has multiple drops and has just played poorly. He should not see offensive snaps for the Broncos, unless an injury occurs. That was the case his first two years in Denver, but he was also used sparingly. Last year, he stepped up when called upon, and could do the same this year. His grade: D.
WR Cody Latimer
Snaps: 14. Stats: Targeted 1 time, with 1 catch for 9 yards.
Latimer got his first catch of the season. It was a short pass, but he turned up-field and picked up extra yards. On other plays, he was in good position to make the catch, if needed. He also showed his physicality as a blocker, with exceptional blocking. His grade: B
WR Isaiah Burse
Snaps: 12. Stats: None.
Burse was used on the offense late in the game when the starters were pulled. That is the only time he will see the field, as it should be. He is unable to block. Part of that is his size and another part is he doesn’t know how to block. As a receiver, his speed and quickness, that was raved about in the off-season, is not there. He seems lost and confused as a receiver. His grade: D-.
Snaps: 67. Stats: Targeted 7 times, with 6 catches for 63 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Thomas showed his excellent receiving ability for the Broncos. He was reliable when the Broncos targeted him. He is a mismatch nightmare and the Broncos used him as such again. That is something they went away from in the last few games. For as great he did as a receiver, he was dreadful as a blocker. On one run, Thomas goes out of his way to avoid picking up a blocker. The blocking killed his grade. His grade: D+.
TE Jacob Tamme
Snaps: 19. Stats: None.
Tamme has no stats, but he did make a great play. He recovered Thompson’s fumble. However, outside of that he was bad. He got called for a tripping penalty after he got destroyed on a run block. He showed his struggles as a blocker, play after play. He also failed to show up as a receiver. He wasn’t targeted, which isn’t his fault, but he also didn’t do anything that would get him targeted. He was shut down as a receiver by single-man coverage, and was unable to get separation. His grade: D-.
LT Ryan Clady
Snaps: 66. Stats: 4 QB hurries allowed.
Clady was awful. He was getting beat in pass protection and failed to get any kind of push in the running game . What killed his grade happened on Anderson’s 51-yard touchdown. Once Anderson caught the ball and met the first Raider defender, Clady came to a stop and gave up on the play. Even after Anderson broke free, Clady didn’t get up-field to potentially help block, like a couple other offensive linemen did. This is the NFL, big man, you play to the whistle. His grade: D-.
Snaps: 84. Stats: 5 QB hurries allowed.
Yet another offensive linemen with a bad performance. Although, unlike Clady, Franklin has had a really rough season. Franklin is playing undisciplined and getting called for dumb penalties he shouldn’t be committing. Franklin did okay in the run game, opening up a few holes and creating push at times. But, he was inconsistent and after a good play, he would fail on the next. In pass protection he was just bad. He had his hands full with Antonio Smith, who beat him multiple times. His grade: D.
Snaps: 84. Stats: None.
I was skeptical of Montgomery stepping in. I watched him fail time and time again in the preseason against second and third string defensive linemen, so surely those struggles would be there against first string players. I was wrong. Montgomery put up the best performance of any offensive linemen on the Broncos and the best center performance of the season. He was patient and disciplined, waiting to see if there was a delayed blitzer or stunt rusher, before engaging in a double team. In the run game, he opened up holes and was rarely beaten. All in all, he put out a great performance that Broncos fans should be hoping continues and builds upon. His grade: B+.
Snaps: 79. Stats: 2 QB hurries allowed.
If it were not for giving up on a play by Clady, Ramirez would have the worst grade of all the offensive linemen. Ramirez was awful. He shows a complete lack of understanding of his responsibilities in pass protection. In run blocking, he fails to open up holes or get any kind of push. However, on the play Clady gave up on, Ramirez is seen sprinting down field, near Anderson, where he was in a position to block if need be. But, Anderson is faster than Ramirez and left Ramirez behind before he could block anyone. He played ;til the whistle though. Unfortunately for Ramirez, that play doesn’t do much to save his grade. His grade: D.
Snaps: 84. Stats: 1 QB hit allowed, 1 QB hurry allowed.
Vasquez struggled at right tackle for the Broncos. He was not his usual force in the run game that we are accustomed to at right guard. Then, in pass protection he was getting pushed back and struggled to combat the speed of some Raiders pass rushers. He was not the best offensive linemen by far, but not the worst either. His grade: D+.
Snaps: 18. Stats: None.
Clark should not see another snap for the Broncos this season unless they get decimated by injuries. In his limited snap count, Clark made a mistake on 15 of his 18 plays, including getting flagged for a penalty. He is lost when out on the field and unaware of what to do, even more so than Ramirez. He had an solid 2013 season, but got a lot of help by another offensive linemen, tight ends and even Manning. This year, that isn’t happening and he has shown he does not belong on a Super Bowl contending team. His grade: F.
G Ben Garland
Snaps: 5. Stats: None.
Garland in his five snaps, played better than multiple other offensive linemen. He didn’t do anything wrong, but did nothing exceptional either. His grade: C.
The Broncos offense really started off struggling. Manning was seeing ghosts from the loss to New England, feeling pressure that wasn’t there. Finally, he settled down and led this offense to play like it is, somewhat unfairly, expected of them on a weekly basis. The Broncos have no issues at wide receiver, tight end, quarterback or even running back. But, they do have issues along their offensive line. It is an issue the Broncos know about and are looking to fix. If they can get the offensive line settled, the team will be hard to beat by any team. Both of their losses came from being dominated in the trenches.
Next up the Broncos are headed to St. Louis to take on the Rams.
Stay tuned for the Denver Broncos Week 10 Player Grades: Defense.