The Denver Broncos offense played a great game against the Oakland Raiders. They made more changes on the offense than some may realize. Their two biggest issues for the majority of the season were predictability and versatility.
It was easy, at times, for the opposition to defense the Broncos. In their 3-WR set, they were able to key on a pass, as they struggled to run from that alignment. In their jumbo package, defenses were able to key in on either a run, or bubble screen. They were predictable and the antithesis of versatile.
That changed against the Raiders. The Broncos were able to pass effectively out of their jumbo package, and not just bubble screens. And when they went into their 3-WR set, they were able to run effectively.
Those two changes made them unpredictable and versatile. To top it all off was the fact that the offense looked simplified. They went back to the basics, with great success. They utilized a lot of crossing patterns. The underneath-crosser would clear out the coverage, and then the quarterback would hit the crosser over the top for a big gain.
All in all, the Broncos offense played a great game. Were there mistakes? Yes, of course there were. It is rare to see a team play perfect, completely mistake-free football. However, this game was close to perfect. Most of the issues came at an individual level, with little to no impact on the outcome of the play.
In fact, there was only one area of concern in regards to a whole unit, consistently throughout the game, but more on that with the grades.
Now, onto the player grades. As always, each player starts with a C grade. A positive impact helps their grade, while a negative impact hurts it.
Snaps: 71. Stats: 21-of-37 for 274 yards. 2 passes dropped and 1 fumble lost for an opposing touchdown.
Manning played a great game. His fumble was actually a lateral pass that was tipped. Since it was a lateral behind the line of scrimmage, it was ruled a fumble that the Raiders picked up and returned for a touchdown. Manning made quick reads and showcased some great decision making on where to go with the ball. His grade: B.
Snaps: 7. Stats: 2-of-2 for 39 yards and 1 touchdown.
Osweiler came into the game when it was well in hand. He took a total of seven snaps and was allowed to air it out twice. He made quick reads and a couple nice throws, one of which could have been better. He read the defense and found the open guy both times. His grade: B-.
Snaps: 37. Stats: 13 rushes for 87 yards (6.7 YPC) and three touchdowns. Forced 7 missed tackles. Targeted 3 times, catching 2 passes for 21 yards. Fumbled 1 time, recovered by Denver.
Anderson played a really great game. He has such excellent balance and vision that goes with his speed and power. Those combined traits make him a very dangerous player. He gave the Raiders defense fits, as he continuously broke off good runs for solid gains and broke through multiple tackles. The only area that he did not look great at was blocking. He was able to see the blitz, just did little to stop it. His grade: A-.
Snaps: 34. Stats: 15 rushes for 56 yards (3.7 YPC). Forced 2 missed tackles. Targeted 2 times, catching 1 pass for 2 yards. Dropped 1 pass.
Hillman saw his first action in weeks, and he did well. He ended up seeing about a 50/50 split with Anderson in his first action back. He was quick vs. the Raiders, though at times, that was a hindrance. He was so quick that he outran his blocks, which led to shorter gains. If he slows down a bit and shows some patience, he would have done better than he did. His grade: B-.
Snaps: 7. Stats: 4 rushes for 5 yards (1.3 YPC).
Stewart played well. Two of his rushes came on the goal-line, and he was unable to get through. He had one solid run for a decent pickup. His vision against the Raiders was good. He just needed to be more balanced as a runner and hit the hole harder. His grade: C.
Snaps: 57. Stats: Targeted 17 times, catching 8 passes for 115 yards. Dropped 1 pass.
Thomas played an okay game. He was off for most of it, and should have been taken out of the game early. He was battling a hand and ankle injury, but was kept out there. That makes his 115 yards on 8 catches impressive, but it’s the other 9 targets that hurt his grade. Most of them were just bad plays by Thomas being unable to make the catch. He also didn’t have the best showing as a blocker. His grade: B-.
Snaps: 61. Stats: Targeted 9 times, catching 6 passes for 73 yards.
Sanders was used effectively for the Broncos in a game where he almost didn’t suit up. He was close to having a perfect game and the three incompletions thrown his way were almost caught. He came through in a tight spot a few times and helped the Broncos effectively move the ball. He also played a good game as a blocker on the edge. His grade: B+.
WR Wes Welker
Snaps: 61. Stats: Targeted 2 times, catching 2 passes for 42 yards. Recovered 1 fumble.
Welker played a good game. He was effective in the passing game, even though he was only targeted twice. He pulled the coverage multiple times, opening space for the other receivers. That is something he has done for most of the season, with great efficiency. He also showcased well as a blocker, especially for a player of his size. His grade: B.
Snaps: 25. Stats: Targeted 1 time, catching 0 passes.
Caldwell did well as a blocker. As a receiver, he struggled to get open. The target he received was with him in tight coverage and had it knocked away. His grade: C+.
WR Cody Latimer
Snaps: 12. Stats: Targeted 2 times, catching 1 pass for 14 yards.
Latimer played really well. He was great as a blocker and created space on the edge. As a receiver, he was up and down. He made a great catch for a 14-yard pickup, but his other target he looked lost. He was unsure of the ball placement and unsure of how to adjust for it. When he did adjust, it was too late. His grade: B-.
TE Virgil Green
Snaps: 46. Stats: Targeted 3 times, catching 3 passes for 46 yards and 1 touchdown.
Green was consistent with his blocking. It was great, as it has been for the season. What he showcased was his ability as a receiver. He can make the plays needed as a receiver and even get separation to make them. He tied his season total in catches with three, picked up 18 more yards than his season total and his first career touchdown. His grade: A-.
Snaps: 32. Stats: None.
Thomas was completely ineffective for the Broncos. He failed as a blocker and as a receiver. Multiple times he looked like he gave up on plays before they were finished. One of which came with him as a receiver. Instead of finishing his route, he just stopped short. Manning threw to where he was supposed to be. The play ended up not counting, due to a flag thrown after Thomas stopped is route. His grade: F.
TE Jacob Tamme
Snaps: 2. Stats: None.
Tamme saw a total of two snaps as a run blocker for the Broncos. He was neither good, nor bad in both. His grade: C.
LT Ryan Clady
Snaps: 78. Stats: None.
Clady put together his best and most complete game of the season. He was great as a pass blocker and allowed no pressures. He did get pushed back, but regained balance and control. As a run blocker, he got push to move his assignment backwards. When he didn’t get push, he was able to move his assignment and help open a hole. He did make mistakes in the run game, but they were few in number. His grade: B+.
Snaps: 42. Stats: 1 quarterback hit allowed.
Franklin played a solid game, although he looked hurt for most of it. He did eventually come out later in the game with a concussion. A few times he looked to be playing softer than normal and got pushed around in the run game. He looked like he got hurt early, but stayed in the game until he got hit later and couldn’t continue. His grade: B-.
Snaps: 78. Stats: None.
Montgomery played a great game in pass protection. He was solid and disciplined. In the run game, he was a cause for concern, at times. He was beaten a few times off the snap, and the runs went nowhere. He was also beaten a few times after the snap and the runs went for a short gain. When he had a great block, there was a good run. The run game pretty much lived and died by Montgomery this week. His grade: C+.
Snaps: 78. Stats: 1 quarterback hit and 2 quarterback hurries allowed.
Ramirez was the opposite of Montgomery. He played really well in run blocking, making few mistakes. His pass protection was not the best, however. He was beaten a few times, but ended up with help from Montgomery on a double team. He also got beat and received no help, which ended with the pressures. The good news for him was that Manning got rid of the ball, before it was a sack. His grade: C-.
Snaps: 78. Stats: 1 quarterback sack and 1 quarterback hurry allowed.
Vasquez was inconsistent in his pass protection and run blocking all game. His pass protection was where he did the best at, though he did get beat a few times, but held his own for the majority of the passing snaps. In his run blocking, he just got beat multiple times. On top of that, he was assigned to pull a few times, and just missed defenders. Part of the problem was him running with his head lowered, instead of up so he could see what was in front of him. His grade: C-.
LG Ben Garland
Snaps: 36. Stats: 1 quarterback hurry allowed.
When Franklin got hurt and came out of the game, Garland stepped in. He actually played really well in those snaps. In fact, he played so well that the drop off in the offensive line's play, from Franklin to Garland, was barely noticeable. His grade: B.
Snaps: 16. Stats: None.
All of Clark's snaps came in the Broncos jumbo package, which they did not use as often as in previous weeks. Clark played well as a pass blocker. His run blocking, however, was not the best. He got beat a few times and it forced the ball carrier back inside for a short gain. His grade: C-.
The Broncos offense played a great game; probably their best of the season. It was well-rounded and the mistakes were few. Their only issue that was somewhat consistent came on the offensive line.
They were going back and forth between struggling and playing excellent, in run and pass blocking. Even then, it came on an individual level, which seemingly caused a domino effect. Going forward, all they really have to do is clean up those inconsistencies and get healthy. Other than that, they are good to go.
Next up is.. no one. The Broncos are on a bye, having clinched it with their win against the Raiders. Their next opponent is yet to be determined, but will come down to the Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers or Indianapolis Colts. The only team they cannot possibly face are the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots. Its playoff football, folks. Are you ready?