For the first 25 minutes of the game between the Denver Broncos Week 2 road game, the offense looked awful. No, they looked worse than awful. They seemed to be completely outmatched with the Kansas City Chiefs defense and couldn’t move the ball effectively—at all. They managed to turn it around to end the first half, but came out struggling to start the second. All in all, it was a very inconsistent game from everyone on the offense—as a unit.
With that said, it is time to get into the player grades. As always, we will begin with the starting quarterback and move through the rest of the first-teamers. From there, we'll go into the players who subbed into the game.
Peyton Manning, QB
Snaps: 73. Stats: 26-of-45 for 256 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception (returned for a TD).
Manning did not have a great game, by any means. He looked extremely poor throwing the ball, and not just with zip (or lack thereof), but ball placement as well. Two of his three touchdowns were nearly dropped, due to them both being behind the receiver.
Even though his game wasn’t great, he ended up being good enough for the offense to score points and win the game. With the defense playing some great football, all Manning has to be is good enough. However, he can’t continue to take a beating, or take sacks when he can throw the ball away. Manning and the offense are also lucky that Chiefs defensive backs can’t catch, otherwise he would have thrown four interceptions, instead of just one.
C.J. Anderson, RB
Snaps: 42. Stats: 12 rushes for 27 yards, 1 broken tackle, targeted once, with 1 catch for 2 yards.
A running back's play is often determined by how the offensive line performs. If they create holes, they pick up yards, and if they don’t, then the RBs hardly get past the line of scrimmage. This is true of Anderson, who had holes opened for him on two runs, both of which went for more than 10 yards. Outside of those two runs, he never had an open hole and was consistently met at, or behind, the line of scrimmage.
Demaryius Thomas. WR
Snaps: 60. Stats: Targeted 14 times, with 8 catches for 116 yards.
Thomas is a finesse player who doesn't’ play with a lot of physicality, which shows in every game, and vs. the Chiefs, it was no different. He became known largely because of what he can do after the catch, but he hasn’t really been able to show that so far this year. Against the Chiefs, he had a tough matchup with rookie Marcus Peters, who was dominant and shut down whichever receiver he was on. Thomas was often faced against him, which lead to Thomas only having a 57 percent catch rate.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR
Snaps: 68. Stats: Targeted 13 times, with 8 catches for 87 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 rush for zero yards.
Sanders is a quick route runner, which makes him hard to cover. He was able to get behind the defense a couple of times, but Manning failed to connect on the deep ball. On third downs, Sanders is becoming the main target to move the chains, and he keeps picking them up, which is why Manning looks for him on the money down. His concentration and hands led to him getting his first touchdown, which he nearly dropped, due to the ball being high and behind.
Owen Daniels, TE
Snaps: 58. Stats: Targeted 5 times, with 3 catches for 19 yards.
The best part of watching this game was seeing just how bad some of the blocking assignments were. Daniels was consistently matched up against All-Pro outside linebacker Justin Houston, who is one of the best in the NFL at what he does. This never ended well for Denver, allowing Houston to control the game. Daniels' blocking was horrendous, which highly concerning, since he's tasked with executing that facet. He was also taken out of the game as a receiver.
Virgil Green, TE
Snaps: 26. Stats: Targeted 3 times, 2 catches for 12 yards and 1 touchdown.
Green is known for his blocking, but has failed to play at the level he did a season ago. His struggles as a blocker can be traced back to the preseason, as well. It has been consistently bad, and that has to be fixed. He also was able to show more as a receiver and caught a touchdown. This was the second touchdown that was nearly dropped, due to the throw being behind Green. He managed to come down with the catch for six much needed points.
Ty Sambrailo, LT
Snaps: 73. Stats: 2 QB hits allowed.
The rookie left tackle had his hands full. He was consistently facing Tamba Hali, consistently losing the battle. It didn’t matter if it was a run or a pass play, Sambrailo was losing to Hali. It is still early, but Sambrailo has not looked like an NFL offensive tackle at all. He shows no understanding of balance, leverage or general knowledge of the game. The former second round pick was thrown to the fire, but he's shown no signs of refinement. It is time for him to start improving.
Evan Mathis, LG
Snaps: 73. Stats: 1 sack allowed.
There was only one good play from Mathis, and it came on the first play of the game. He pulled and made room for Anderson to pick up 14 yards and a first down. Everything after that was mediocre—at best. He is still learning the offense, but his issues have come purely from a technical standpoint. His technique has been a mess, and the veteran guard has looked like a bad pick up so far and a rare free agent miss for John Elway.
Matt Paradis, C
Snaps: 73. Stats: 4 QB hurries allowed.
Paradis was facing a tough matchup, and found himself on the losing side often. He was the best offensive linemen out there, though not by much and not because of his play. In the run game he did well, but none of his teammates were able to matchu him, which lead to runs for no gain. He was pushed back often in pass protection, but that isn’t what made him look so bad. The Chiefs know he is still young, learning and getting experience, and they used that against him. They would stunt or delay blitzes up the middle, and Paradis' lack of experience made them really successful.
Louis Vasquez, RG
Snaps: 73. Stats: 1 sack, 1 QB hurry allowed.
Vasquez was consistently losing his matchup in the run game, and his pass protection wasn’t much better. He couldn’t get off blocks in the run game, and found himself losing the battle, or on the ground, much too often. As a pass blocker, he just seemed to struggle with stunt blitzes and seemed unsure of who to pick up. Like Mathis, Vasquez is a veteran, but he hasn’t looked like it at all.
Ryan Harris, RT
Snaps: 73. Stats: 1 sack, 2 QB hits allowed.
When Daniels wasn’t tasked with blocking Houston, it often fell upon Harris. It didn’t make a difference. Harris was controlled as a run blocker and in pass protection, no matter who he was facing off against. He seemed to be the unit's weakest link, and the O-line has been the offense's Achilles heel. This doesn’t bode well for Harris, but Denver doesn’t have a better option to turn to.
That wraps up the starters, now time to get into the players who subbed into the game.
Ronnie Hillman, RB
Snaps: 31. Stats: 9 rushes for 34 yards, targeted once, with zero catches.
As with Anderson's situation, if the offensive line opened holes, Hillman went for some good runs. However, he wasn’t able to see consistent holes and was met at the line of scrimmage often. He had maybe three holes opened up for him.
Jordan Norwood, WR
Snaps: 47. Stats: Targeted 5 times, 3 catches for 14 yards.
In Week 1, Denver started in a 3-WR set. Against the Chiefs, they started out in 2-TE sets, so Norwood wasn’t a starter. He still played a decent game as a receiver. He was quick with his routes and showed strong hands to make the catch. However, they need to stop bringing him into the game to block. He can’t do it and it is due to his lack of size and strength.
Andre Caldwell, WR
Snaps: 13. Stats: Targeted twice, with 1 catch for 6 yards.
Caldwell came into the game late, and saw action primarily in the fourth quarter. His one target came with only seconds remaining in the game. He is trusted by Manning, but does not see the field. While it doesn't go into his offensive grade, his ability in the return game is awful and he shouldn’t be used there.
Cody Latimer, WR
Snaps: 3. Stats: N/A.
Latimer saw three snaps. He just did what he was supposed to. Nothing positive, or negative.
James Casey, FB
Snaps: 7. Stats: N/A.
Denver has turned to Manning’s offense more often in these first two games than many realize. The easiest way to show that is the lack of use from Casey. In two games, he has seen 13 total snaps. He is a good blocker, and while he hasn’t been great, he has been solid in his limited snaps. Maybe using him more may help with the run game.
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