When the Denver Broncos went to Houston, they were coming off an all-around impressive performance against the Seattle Seahawks. Unfortunately, they were unable to put in great back-to-back impressive performances.
The performance against the Texans was filled with sloppy play from start to finish. Players seemed disconnected, playing individually, instead of as a team. Some of the players did have solid individual performances, but they need to get it back together as a unit.
Now, time to get on with the grades. As always, we'll start with the starting quarterback, go through the rest of the starting lineup, and then go position-by-position.
Snaps: 21. Stats: 8-of-14 for 52 yards.
In his first action of the year, Peyton Manning had a really bad game. He made some decisions with the ball that were questionable at best. I'm not saying he didn’t have any good plays.
There were a few, but it just wasn’t a kind of performance you expect from Manning. It has been said that his arm has gotten stronger and he has more zip on passes, but I saw none of that against the Texans.
Snaps: 17. Stats: 4 rushes for 24 yards, 1 target, with 1 catch for 3 yards.
Anderson was back as the starter, after suffering a minor injury against the Seahawks. He looked quick and agile, though not as explosive as he normally does. He also got into some trouble, due to the blocking up front.
Some of his issues are related to the minor injury he suffered. He did have one play, a rush off the right side, where he looked like the running back from a year ago. He had great vision and burst to pick up 14 of his 24 yards.
Snaps: 17. Stats: 6 targets, with 3 catches for 24 yards.
Demaryius Thomas looked worse than expected. He had what I would consider a couple of drops, and didn’t look as good after the catch. After being away from the team for the majority of offseason programs, it is understandable that he would struggle.
Hopefully, he ends up turning it around and doesn't end become one of those players who gets the big contract and then disappears on the field.
Snaps: 36. Stats: 1 targe, witht 1 catch for 8 yards.
After having a great game against Seattle, Latimer took a small step backward against the Texans. However, he still had a really good game. He didn’t show as a receiver, but he put up a great performance as a blocker.
In two games this preseason, Latimer has shown just a little bit of his potential.
Snaps: 18. Stats: 1 target, with zero catches.
The hybrid player had a solid game as a blocker, but yet again, failed to really show his full capabilities as a receiver. As a lead blocker, he was stout and opened up some room for the runners.
Snaps: 18. Stats: 5 targets, with 4 catches for 25 yards
Another player who did not play against the Seahawks, Daniels made his Broncos debut against his former team. While he is known more for his receiving ability, I came away impressed with his blocking.
He wasn’t excellent by any means, but he showed toughness and effort in each block. As for his receiving ability, the veteran showed he can still perform adequately.
Snaps: 43. Stats: N/A
In his first NFL action, Ty Sambrailo was atrocious. However, he did perform better his second game, though it was still far from what you want from your starting left tackle. He didn’t have as many plays where he did nothing, which is a major step forward. As a lead blocker, Sambrailo had some good blocks, but he also struggled at times to stay as the lead blocker..
In pass protection, he struggled with speed moves to the outside and power moves to the inside. He did recover well a few times. One of his worst plays came when he pushed a defender already engaged and allowed him to break free and put pressure on the quarterback.
Snaps: 43. Stats: N/A
Max Garcia put together another great game. He was a mauler in the run game and continuously played a major role in creating big running lanes. He also was stout as a pass blocker. The only issue with his game were the few times he wasn’t able to get push in short-yard situations, which every offensive lineman struggled to do.
Snaps: 43. Stats: N/A
In the first game, Paradis kept getting blown off the snap but would recover. This game, he cut back the times he was blown off the snap and got even stronger at the point of attack. He took his performance from the first game and took a big step forward. He has shown he is more than capable to handle the starting center job in this offense and can do so for quite some time.
Snaps: 21. Stats: N/A
Vasquez made some mistakes this game, including a big whiff on a run that went for minimal gain. However, all in all, he put together a solid game. He took a small step back, but there's no reason to doubt he will perform at his normal level at right guard when the games start to matter.
Snaps: 43. Stats: 1 hurry.
Ryan Harris played a really awful game. He was consistently whiffing in the run game and in pass protection. He was able to recover a few times, but not many. At times, it was painful to watch Harris play this game. He only got hit with one hurry, but he could have easily been hit with many more.
That wraps up the starters. Now time for the backups. As I said before, they will go position-by-position, starting with the quarterbacks.
Snaps: 36. Stats: 7-of-16 for 121 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, 1 drop, 2 rushes for 7 yards.
The backup quarterback did not have as good of a game as he did against the Seahawks. However, it wasn’t a bad game by any means at all. The blocking upfront lead to solid pressure on him all game, and led to mistakes. His interception was a result of a failure to pick up the blitz.
Osweiler was forced to throw the ball immediately, without going through his reads, and missed the defender dropping back. He made a beautiful throw for a touchdown, a throw that was perfect actually. As the backup quarterback, he played well, but more is expected at this point.
Snaps 12. Stats: 7-of-10 for 89 yards and 1 touchdown.
With his play against the Texans, primarily a 93-yard touchdown drive to win the game, Siemian secured his spot as the No. 3 quarterback. He is still fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster, however, as Denver may risk him on waivers to get him on the practice squad.
Siemian is smart player, with a strong arm. He is looking like a veteran more than a seventh round rookie.
Snaps: 21. Stats: 8 rushes for 54 yards.
Another great performance by Hillman secures him the No. 2 running back spot. He looked quick and agile, all while showing excellent vision to find the openings to break off some decent sized runs. Probably the best aspect of his game came as a blocker picking up the blitz.
Snaps: 10. Stats: 4 rushes for 4 yards, 1 QB hit allowed.
Ball put together a not-so-great performance, but the blocking up front didn’t help him at all. The big issue comes with his patience. He is too patient and tries to wait until the play is fully developed by the time he hits the hole.
The issue is, he doesn’t have the explosiveness or burst to hit the hole before it closes. He does have the ability to succeed in this offense, but he has to put it together. Based off his play, he shouldn’t make the roster, but as a former second round pick, he will manage to stick around.
Snaps: 11. Stats: 5 rushes for 32 yards, 1 target, with zero catches, 1 hurry allowed.
After a completely awful game against the Seahawks, Thompson rebounded offensively against the Texans. He looked quick and strong, with good burst to pick up yards quickly. However, he still looked horrendous on special teams, which was a strong suit for him a year ago.
If the Broncos carry only three running backs, the politics of draft status leave Thompson on the outside. It also doesn’t help that Ball looked better than him game one, while Thompson looked better this last game.
Snaps: 8. Stats: N/A
Bibbs only entered the game late, and all on pass plays. As a blocker, he looked weak and unable to pick up blitzes correctly. When he ran routes, he looked sluggish with his cuts.
Snaps: 6. Stats: N/A
This hybrid player saw only a few snaps, but they were spread throughout the game. In fewer snaps, he looked better than he did the first game, especially as a lead blocker.
Snaps: 19. Stats: 2 targets, with 2 catches for 32 yards.
Fowler saw snaps early in the game with the first unit and Peyton Manning. This is because of how great he played against the Seahawks. He backed up that performance with another one against the Texans.
He runs his routes smoothly and quickly. He also possesses really good hands to make the tough catches. On top of what he does on offense, he continues to impress on special teams.
Snaps: 19. Stats: 1 target, with zero catches.
Palmer is another player who saw reps with the first unit. However, he hasn’t put together the performances that Fowler has on offense, nor special teams. Palmer impresses during practice, but it fails to show in-game.
Snaps: 18. Stats: 3 targets, with 2 catches for 61 yards and 1 touchdown.
Caldwell actually was impressive against the Texans. He made a couple of nice catches and almost made a great third catch, though it was just a tad too low. On his touchdown, he lulled the corner outside and turned on the jets to break free for the long touchdown.
Snaps: 24. Stats: 2 targets, with zero catches, 1 dropped pass.
Norwood looked not-so-great against the Texans. He was out of sync on his routes with the quarterback. Also, with his route running, he didn’t look as quick or smooth in and out of his breaks. He hasn’t been getting many looks on special teams, which, with his issues on offense, is not a good thing.
Snaps: 19. Stats: 5 targets, with 3 catches for 18 yards.
As a receiver, Burse actually looked solid. His route running has improved drastically from a year ago and he uses his quickness in and out of breaks extremely well. However, the issue with Burse’s game comes as a blocker. His size is just too big of a detriment to his capabilities.
Snaps 15. Stats: 1 target, with zero catches.
The undrafted rookie tore up training camp. However, through two preseason games he has completely failed to impress. He has made two great plays in the two games, both of which came on special teams.
Snaps: 8. Stats: 2 targets, with 1 catch for 26 yards and 1 touchdown.
Louks really impressed on special teams. He was quick to look in the catch, and was decisive with his path on the return. But, special teams wasn’t the only area he was impressive—on offense he was as well. His route running looked really refined and smooth. After seeing nothing in game one, I came away pleasantly surprised by his showing this time around.
Snaps: 34. Stats: 2 targets, with 1 catch for 14 yards
Green was improved from the first game. His blocking was still under par, but better than it was against Seattle. As a receiver, he flashed the potential he has, but needs to be more consistent. The bright side of Green’s game came on special teams, though he didn’t see a whole lot of action here.
Snaps: 16. Stats: 2 targets, with 2 catches for 9 yards.
The depth at tight end is concerning, and Jones' game showed why. He did have some nice blocks, but as a receiver he is raw. He just doesn’t have great versatility and looks slow as a receiver. Time is running out for him to turn it around. He has a lot of work to do at this point, primarily as a receiver but can put in work as a blocker as well.
Snaps: 11. Stats: 2 targets, with 2 catches for 42 yards.
While Jones is a solid blocker but a raw receiver, Jensen is a solid receiver but a raw blocker. When he is asked to block, Jensen looks out of place and is easily beaten by defenders. However, he is pretty quick for a tight end, which helps create some mismatches in the passing game.
Snaps: 26. Stats: 1 hurry allowed.
The backup left tackle had a solid game, but nothing that warrants him getting a shot as the starter. As a run blocker, he whiffed multiple times, including multiple cut blocks. In pass protection he was solid, but not performing at a starting-caliber level. He struggled with third and fourth unit defenders, which doesn’t bode well for matching up with first units.
Snaps: 26. Stats: N/A
The backup left guard was a big reason for the struggles on the whole backup offensive line. He consistently was outmatched against third and fourth unit defenders in both the run game and pass protection. Garland has to step it up if he hopes to even make the practice squad, let alone the 53-man roster.
Snaps: 26. Stats: N/A
The backup center actually performed admirably and had a good sequence of solid play. He didn’t perform at a starting level, but did show he can be an adequate backup, if need be. One thing he does well, which he showed pretty consistently against the Texans, is get to the second level and make an extra block or two.
Snaps: 48. Stats: N/A
The right guard stepped in early for Vasquez and, while he didn’t play great, he played pretty well. His worst came in pass protection, where it looked like he allowed multiple pressures to me, although he wasn’t credited with any. The run game is where he does a solid job, but not anything great.
Snaps: 26. Stats: N/A
The former third round pick played another not-so-great game. He continued to fail at executing cut blocks, and has only a handful of successful attempts on more than 30 tries between the two games. He just seems to get in the way more as a run blocker than actually help.
As for pass protection, he did a decent job against the third and fourth unit defenders. However, he does struggle more than you hope of a former third round pick.
That wraps up the player grades for the offense from the game against the Houston Texans. Stay tuned for the grades for the defensive side of the ball.
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