The Denver Broncos offense has had a rough stretch over the last few games. They were a dud in New England, played a bad first half in Oakland and were horrible in St. Louis.
In their return home vs the Miami Dolphins, Broncos Country hoped they would turn it around. When the game started, it did not look encouraging. The offense moved the ball, but they still showed those signs of inconsistency.
One thing that drastically changed was their commitment to the run game. After running the ball a total of nine times in their loss to the Rams last week, they started the game with multiple runs on their first drive, and they stuck with it all game long.
It paid dividends, as it made the Broncos offense two-dimensional. They did not have to rely on the passing game in order to move the ball. All season, the Broncos run game has been inconsistent at best. They had a few games of solid ground production, but nothing spectacular. However, if they can continue to run the ball as effectively as they did yesterday, they'll be a tough offense to stop.
Now, onto the player grades. As always, with the offense, the player grades start at the quarterback position. Each player starts off with a C grade. A positive play helps their grade, while a negative play hurts it.
Snaps: 77. Stats: 28/35, for 257 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Manning had an up and down game, despite what the stats may say. He was not perfect, but truthfully, it's hard for any quarterback to be perfect. With that said, five of the seven incompletions Manning threw, were on him.
On four of them, he led the receiver too much and the other was an under-throw. He exhibited the same on many of the throws he completed. There were multiple times where he placed the ball badly, forcing the receiver to adjust to the throw, which shortened the play. The thing with Manning was, he would make one of those questionable throws, then turn around and throw a perfectly placed ball. Most of the ball placement issues came from throws 20+ yards down the field. His grade: B+.
Snaps: 69. Stats: 1 QB hit allowed. 27 rushes, for 167 yards and 1 touchdown, 6.2 YPC, with a long of 26 yards. Forced 5 missed tackles. Caught 4 passes, on 4 targets, for 28 yards.
Anderson has been the hot hand for the Broncos lately. He originally got the starting job due to injuries, but he has taken it and ran with it. Literally. He has been a huge bonus for the Broncos running game, which was sorely needed.
Anderson has a combination of speed, power and agility that makes him hard to defend. He displayed all three against the Dolphins. The biggest concern with Anderson going into this season, was his passing game utility, but he has improved as a blocker and a receiver. As long as he has the hot hand, the Broncos need to utilize him in their offensive game plan. His grade: A.
Snaps: 8. Stats: 5 rushes, for 33 yards, 6.6 YPC and a long of 21. Forced 3 missed tackles.
Thompson did a great job when he entered the game. He ran tough, with power, which gave the Dolphins defenders fits when trying to tackle him. When he does go down, he goes down in funny ways, mostly because he keeps trying to get yards. He is a great compliment back to Anderson with his power, but Thompson also has an extra gear, which helps him break away for good chunks of yardage. His grade: B+.
Snaps: 77. Stats: 10 catches, on 13 targets, for 87 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Thomas has been great for the Broncos this season and is deserving of a big contract extension. He was so hard to defend for the Dolphins.
He was making plays left and right. Although his seven-game 100-yard receiving streak came to an end, he showed how big of a threat he is in the redzone. That was forgotten, with Julius Thomas getting a lot of the redzone looks. His grade: A.
Snaps: 71. Stats: 1 rush for 3 yards. 9 catches, on 13 targets, for 125 yards.
Sanders showed his importance for the Broncos offense against the Dolphins. Like Thomas, he was hard for them to defend; so hard that at times it seemed impossible, like the four plays where he beat the Dolphins deep. Unfortunately, Manning was unable to connect and overthrew those four passes.
When Sanders wasn’t taking the top off the defense, he was scorching them underneath. Again, he was impossible for the Dolphins to defend and was a big reason the Broncos saw success moving the ball through the air. His grade: A.
WR Wes Welker
Snaps: 59. Stats: 4 catches, on 4 targets, for 18 yards and 1 touchdown.
Welker played an extremely good game for how he was utilized. He was used as bait to suck up the Dolphins coverage. When they didn’t pull up and maintained discipline on the deeper receivers, Manning would target Welker underneath with success.
He has been the forgotten man on the Broncos offense, mainly due to the lack of production, but that is a result of how he is used by Adam Gase. Welker's role in the offense is different from last year and vastly different from how he was used in New England. His grade: B+.
WR Cody Latimer
Snaps: 2. Stats: None.
Latimer stepped in on offense twice. Both came as a run blocker. He was active, searching for a block, and the time he did engage, he executed it perfectly. As a receiver, he was not used. His grade: C.
Snaps: 2. Stats: None.
Caldwell also saw two snaps on offense, one as a run blocker and the other as a receiver. He was unable to maintain his block on the run play, but the play was away from him. His grade: C.
TE Virgil Green
Snaps: 56. Stats: None.
Green has been criminally under-utilized by the Broncos. He has been used as the blocking tight end, which he has excelled at, but it's as a receiver that he has been under-utilized. He has shown flashes time and time again, but never gets called upon. He saw only 9 snaps where he was used as a receiver. Most of those where a screen pass. If Julius Thomas misses more time with his injury, Green should see an increased role as a receiver. His grade: C+.
TE Jacob Tamme
Snaps: 23. Stats: 1 catch, on 1 target, for negative 3 yards.
The only pass thrown Tamme’s way was a screen play, which the Dolphins defense read perfectly and broke up immediately. Tamme has fallen off on the Broncos offense and shouldn’t see as many snaps going forward. He has failed the last two games as a receiver and as a blocker. He may actually be worse than Julius Thomas in that respect. His grade: D-.
LT Ryan Clady
Snaps: 77. Stats: None.
Clady struggled against the Dolphins. He stepped his pass protection back up to the norm, but his run blocking was not as good. He did, at times, create some big holes for the running backs, but ended up being taken out of the play, more often than not. He was either maneuvered by the defender, so he could make a play on the ball carrier, or put on his back. Clady’s best play came by throwing Emmanuel Sanders for a three yard gain. His grade: C+.
Snaps: 76. Stats: None.
Franklin is a tackle playing guard. Week after week, he shows that he is out of position. He played a strong game against the Dolphins, however, especially opening holes in the run game. For the most part, he has struggled at left guard and his penalties have been a killer this year. The coaching staff needs to look into moving him back to where he belongs, at right tackle. His grade: B.
Snaps: 77. Stats: None.
Montgomery has solidified the center position. He played a solid game vs the Dolphins, but there were some mistakes in his game. A few times, he lost his block off the snap, and the runs went nowhere. On one of the worst plays, he let a guy just blow by him. However, that ended up having little impact, as the ball carrier just cut outside for a solid gain. Montgomery’s pass protection was solid as well. His grade: B-.
Snaps: 77. Stats: None.
Ramirez played an excellent game. He was easily the best offensive linemen out there for the Broncos. For the first time on the season, he showed that he is deserving of being a starter. He played with fire and was tough in his blocking, both in the pass and in the run. When he was moving forward, the Dolphins had a hard time dealing with him. He was a force and played a big part in the Broncos success running the ball. His grade: A-.
Snaps: 77. Stats: None.
Vasquez did a good job against the Dolphins. He was strong in pass protection and run blocking. On one Anderson 10-yard run, Vasquez threw two amazing blocks, but they were on fellow teammates, Ramirez and Clady. The reason is, when he goes forward he lowers his head and doesn’t see the full field. That leads to a few mistakes when going forward, and it's something that needs to be corrected. His grade: B.
Snaps: 18. Stats: None.
The Broncos saw a lot of success running out of a jumbo formation with six offensive linemen. Cornick was the sixth linemen and he did a great job. Even when he was starting at RT, earlier in the season, he did an excellent job run blocking. His issues were in pass protection, and even those were not as bad as many made them out to be. He played a good game, and going forward, will likely see more time in this jumbo formation. His grade: B.
LG Ben Garland
Snaps: 1. Stats: None.
Garland saw one snap when Franklin came out of the game. It was a run play and Garland did really well. He got push on the defensive linemen he faced off against. His grade: C.
Overall, the Broncos played a really good game. They started out rough, but turned it around. The offensive line performed much better than in previous weeks. They provided some of the best protection for Manning on the season.
Now, they just need Manning to settle down and trust the offensive line. But for that to happen, the offensive line has to play like that consistently. Part of the offense's issue yesterday was that Manning seemed to feel phantom pressure.
The offense looked good, however, especially in the final 20 minutes of the game. Going forward, they need to play like that for a full 60 minutes though. If they do and keep to the run/pass balance they had, they'll be one hard team to stop.
But will they be able to keep it up? If they do keep it up, will the defense be able to hold their end of the bargain? The next few weeks will give us better answers to those questions.
Next up, the Broncos have to prepare to head to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs in what will be a hard fought division battle.