The Denver Broncos offense has been struggling for the majority of the season. They have had a hard time putting the ball in the endzone, and have had to settle for field goals more often than they should. The offense is lucky and owes the defense, because if not for them, the Broncos record would look very different.
There is one big issue with the offense, and that is the complete lack of a running game. The reasons for this issue are numerous. The offensive line is struggling to generate consistent push, the running backs are being used improperly and are not using their burst.
Finally, the plays are telegraphed and predictable because of the personnel used. Two of these reasons are easily fixed, but it's on the coaching staff to do what is needed.
Their issues were not limited to the lack of running game, as the passing game was poor, at best. Some dropped passes, bad throws and poor routes all just led to a bad passing game. They couldn’t get things together against the Oakland Raiders, who are a better team than many may want to give them credit for.
With that said, let us jump into the player grades.
Peyton Manning, QB
Snaps: 58. Stats: 22-of-33 for 266 yards, 2 interceptions and 2 passes dropped.
Manning really played a bad game. His decision making was awful, and his arm looked gone on a lot of throws, including completions. He had a couple of nice passes, but they were few in number. The biggest issue with Manning was his decision making. He made some very questionable choices as to where to go with the ball, which has been a growing trend since early last season.
Ronnie Hillman, RB
Snaps: 21. Stats: 7 rushes for 21 yards, 2 targets, 1 catch for 5 yards, 1 hurry allowed.
After looking like he was deserving to be the starter, Hillman got the start and faltered. He did average 3 yards per rush, which is just below the desired average of 3.3 yards. His pass blocking was below average for his usual self and he made little impact as a receiver.
Demaryius Thomas, WR
Snaps: 49. Stats: 8 targets, 5 catches for 55 yards, 2 passes dropped.
Dropped passes are not unusual for Thomas and his inconsistent hands. He can make the tough catches, or the easy ones, but he just doesn’t do so consistently, hence the drops. However, despite this, he is a threat when he has the ball in his hands. He wasn’t able to show his big play ability against the Raiders, and they took him out of the game quite a bit. He was playing hurt, and at times it was very obvious.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR
Snaps: 55. Stats: 12 targets, 9 catches for 111 yards.
Sanders is the best receiver the Broncos have, and his play reflects that. His hands are consistent and he can make any catch needed. A few times against the Raiders, and the season in general, Sanders bailed out Manning and his bad throws. Speed and agility are they keys to Sanders route running, and it was hard for the Raiders to cover him.
Jordan Norwood, WR
Snaps: 28. Stats: 3 targets, 2 catches for 15 yards.
Norwood has been a solid player for the Broncos as their third receiver. With facing the Raiders, he was able to get separation and be a viable receiving candidate, which he wasn’t able to do against the Vikings. He managed to haul in a couple catches, including one for an 11-yard gain. His weak spot has been as a blocker, but he wasn’t used as one against the Raiders.
Owen Daniels, TE
Snaps: 53. Stats: 4 targets, zero catches.
Daniels remains the starter, seeing significant playing time on offense. His play has been awful, and that didn’t change against the Raiders. His run blocking is beyond bad, and he has little to no impact as a receiver.
Ryan Harris, LT
Snaps: 25. Stats: 3 hurries allowed.
Harris was rotated in an out of the game, which was an awful idea by the coaching staff. What little chemistry the offensive line had coming into the game was nullified. Harris played a bad game, so benching him would have made sense, but that wasn’t what they did. They rotated him in and out every few series. This could have been the end for Harris as a starter.
Evan Mathis, LG
Snaps: 58. Stats: 2 hurries allowed.
Mathis allowed a couple hurries in the passing game. By my count he had three, but Pro Football Focus has him at two. Besides those, he was solid in pass protection. However, he completely failed as a run blocker and allowed himself to be shed too easily, too many times.
Matt Paradis, C
Snaps: 58. Stats: 1 QB hit allowed.
Paradis played poorly against the Raiders. His pass blocking was solid, and he did his job well for the majority of the snaps. His run blocking was beyond atrocious. Normally he does a great job in this department and gets a lot of push. That wasn’t the case this game, and he often found himself at a stand-still, or moved to help block running lanes.
Louis Vasquez, RG
Vasquez was the best offensive linemen out there, and it really wasn’t close. It isn’t because of how well he played, but how badly the others performed. He was solid in pass protection, and solid in run blocking. However, he was just solid and often went back and forth in how well he did.
Snaps: 58. Stats: 1 sack, 5 hurries allowed.
For the first half of the game, Schofield was near perfect. The Raiders must have figured out how to beat him, because when they went back onto the field, in the second half, Schofield was a mess. He was completely dominated by Khalil Mack, whom he found himself matched up against often. Just for comparision, his grade for the first half was an 86.8.
C.J. Anderson, RB
Snaps: 33. Stats: 11 rushes for 22 yards, 2 targets, 2 catches for 18 yards.
Anderson did not start the game, but he ended up seeing more time than Hillman. The play of both runners all season has shown that it should be the other way around. Anderson has struggled all season, and that is partly due to injury. The only area he has looked decent, or better at, is as a receiver.
Virgil Green, TE
Snaps: 25. Stats: N/A
Green has been used primarily as a blocker, and it is part of what is telegraphing running plays. When Green comes onto the field, defenses are able to key off on it and expect a run, because thats what it is the majority of the time. It didn’t help having Jack Del Rio on the other sideline, who was with Denver the last couple seasons, when they did the same thing with Green. To stop making it obvious, they need to utilize Green as a receiver and make him a dual threat. As a blocker, they're using him to his strong suit, but its starting to hurt the offense because of the predictability.
Tyler Polumbus, LT
Snaps: 33. Stats: N/A.
Harris was rotating in and out with Polumbus, and it wasn’t pretty for either of them. Polumbus was slightly better in pass protection, but far worse as a run blocker. He was completely manhandled as a run blocker and often thrown aside by the defender. Coaches need to make a decision on whom to play and stick with it. Rotating them isn’t going to work.
That wraps up the starters and players who subbed in with more than ten snaps. Four other players saw action, though all with less than ten snaps.
Wide receiver’s Bennie Fowler and Andre Caldwell saw nine and eight snaps, respectively. Caldwell had no catches, while Fowler had two on two targets for 46 yards. He also had the best play of the game for the offense.
Max Garcia saw seven snaps as a sixth offensive linemen, but wasn’t able to help the run game. Finally, running back Juwan Thompson saw two snaps, with a catch for 16 yards on one of them. He ended up hurting his hamstring and left the game.
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