Denver, Colorado -- Although the Broncos struggled early, allowing an 11-point lead to Miami, they managed to come back and win, 39-36. Some players struggled, while some performed well. Let's take a look at this week's stock report. All grades come via ProFootballFocus. (Subscription Required)
The Offensive Line
All week, the Denver Broncos OL heard about their struggles from the media. Apparently, it lit a fire under them, because they came out and dominated the talented Dolphins DL. Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon are no slouches, but the Broncos kept Manning’s jersey clean. He was sacked just once on the day.
Kudos in particular to RG Ramirez, who played his best game of the season, of his position group, and PFF-rating of his team. The seven runs behind him netted an average 8.4 yards per. It certainly looked like Ramirez and the rest of the unit were able to return to form.
WR/PR Isaiah Burse (-0.8)
Being the returner for a John Fox and Peyton Manning team isn't too demanding. So long as you hold on to the football and don't make any mistakes, you have solid job security. That's why Jim Leonhard and Wes Welker have fielded punts and why Trindon Holliday no longer does. After an injury to Jordan Norwood in training camp, the door was opened and Isaiah Burse made the roster.
Burse has failed to make significant impact on field position, averaging just 6.8 yards on 25 returns. However, that is marginally more forgivable than taking the ball out of the hands of Manning through a turnover. This changed when Burse fumbled the ball on a return against Miami, ultimately costing the team seven points. Burse has disappointed all year, with a season-long return of just 21 yards against the Raiders. Denver may want to take a look at available options for the return game.
S T.J. Ward (-0.6)
Ward played a fantastic game. He had his strongest game in coverage this year, allowing 5 of 8 receptions for just 48 yards. He had one PD and the fourth-quarter interception. He covered five different receivers across the course of the game, and was very effective. He also notched a hurry of Ryan Tannehill on a key pass rushing down. For the second time this season (and not since Week 5), Ward failed to miss a tackle. He and Chris Harris, Jr. were the only two Broncos to play every snap.
K Brandon McManus (-1.2 on FG/PATs)
McManus hasn't had the best of seasons. And missing a gimme 33-yard FG doesn't help him at all. It's no wonder that the Broncos are trying out veteran kickers Jay Feely and Connor Barth this week. McManus has the yips, plain and simple.
RB C.J. Anderson (+4.2)
The Broncos got their run game together in a hurry at the right time. The 201 total rushing yards was by far their highest mark of the season. They rushed for 10 first downs (9 by Anderson). That equals the totals from the Rams, Raiders and Patriots games combined. Anderson rushed 27 times for 167 yards, the most in each category since Knowshon Moreno went for 37-224 against the New England Patriots on November 24 of 2013. He is undoubtedly the starting RB moving forward.
The offense was balanced, with 35 passes to 35 runs. Manning threw for 257 yards, his 3rd lowest of the season; behind only victories against the Kansas City Chiefs (242 yards) and New York Jets (237 yards). It shows that Manning doesn’t have to throw to win, as they do arguably better with a balanced attack. This game also displayed the impact of blocking TE Virgil Green in this offense. Green threw several key blocks to spring Anderson and Juwan Thompson for big gains downfield.
9 penalties for 98 yards
It's about time that someone on the coaching staff realizes the Broncos lead the league in penalties. Nearly a hundred yards in free field position is simply unacceptable for a team with championship aspirations. Discipline has been a struggle and must be key moving forward.