The Denver Broncos went to the Indianapolis Colts house and lost the game by three points. Part of the problem comes with the offense, particularly their first half, with next to no production and lack of a running game.
The passing game was decent, but saw a lot of dropped passes and missed opportunities. It didn’t help that the offense turned the ball over twice, giving the Colts two extra possessions. Not much more can be said, so it is time to jump into the player grades.
Peyton Manning, QB
Snaps: 52. Stats: 21-of-36 for 281 yards, 2 touchdowns, with 2 interceptions, 4 passes dropped.
Bad decisions have plagued Manning for some time. You can go back to last season and see the bad decisions. I am left questioning what he sees, and why he is trying to force passes. He gets away with some, and gets bit for the rest.
That’s how it was against the Colts. He made multiple bad decisions, AND got away with about half of them. Of his two interceptions, only his first one should fall solely on him. He threw a pass too high, it got tipped by the Colts then picked off. Interception number two, he threw low and a bit ahead in tight coverage to try and give the receiver a chance to make a play. However, the defensive back made the better play to come up with the ball.
Ronnie Hillman, RB
Snaps: 24. Stats: 1 QB hurry allowed, 7 rushes for 1 yard.
For the second consecutive week, Hillman got the start. Unlike the last game, he was a complete miss against the Colts. Hillman had been dealing with an injury and it showed, but the Colts just prepared for it and seemed like they knew when they were going to run the ball. Hillman’s longest rush came on three yards, which he had two of, but he also had three runs for a negative 8 yards. He was completely ineffective in all phases of offense.
Demaryius Thomas, WR
Snaps: 47. Stats: 7 targets, 5 catches for 50 yards and 1 dropped pass.
The typical we’re-playing-the-Colts Thomas showed up. In four games vs Indy since 2013, Thomas has 18 catches on 38 targets for 239 yards with two touchdowns and five dropped passes. He just always seems to have bad games against the Colts. It was no different Sunday. His routes were good, but he struggled to get separation. It was a bad game from Thomas, which is just what I have come to expect from him against the Colts.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR
Snaps: 43. Stats: 10 targets, 6 catches for 90 yards and 1 touchdown, 2 dropped passes.
Sanders was the primary receiver target, but he was already banged up and he took some big hits that didn’t help. He was hurting at the start of the game, and was hurting even more by the end of it. His route running deteriorated as the game went on, and he seemed to get less and less physical. The Colts wore him down, and effectively took him out of the game by the fourth quarter. However, he did make some great plays that helped the Broncos move the ball, including a long touchdown catch, where he showed his speed off the snap.
Owen Daniels, TE
Snaps: 43. Stats: 8 targets, 6 catches for 102 yards and 1 touchdown.
For back-to-back games, Daniels had a huge impact on the offense. He isn’t a “speedy” tight end, but he never really has been. He relies on route running and trickery at the snap to get his separation. When that happens, he can pick up good yards as a receiver. He is a smart player, who relies on his brains more than athleticism, which isn’t there for him. The Colts have had issues covering tight ends all year, which helped Daniels and the offense out a lot, but not enough to help them win. As a blocker, he was inconsistent. At times his effectiveness was great, but he also got destroyed multiple times.
Virgil Green, TE
Snaps: 25. Snaps: 1 target, 1 catch for 13 yards.
All season, Green has been an inconsistent blocker, which is what he is known for — his blocking. That changed against the Colts, but not in a good way. His run blocking was poor, and he found himself controlled at the point of attack too often. His pass blocking was decent, but he was there to help in a double team for the most part. The best we saw from Green came when he was running routes. He was able to get separation on most of his routes by using some crisp route running and quickness. He continues to show that he should be used more as a receiver.
Ryan Harris, LT
Snaps: 35. Stats: 1 hurry allowed.
After the Packers game, I was left wondering if Harris would remain the starter. After the Colts game, I am questioning why he is even part of the rotation. He was awful against the run, and his pass protection was mediocre on his best plays. It is past time for Harris to either take a seat, or be moved back over to right tackle, but his play should have him take a seat.
Evan Mathis, LG
Snaps: 48. Stats: 2 QB hits allowed.
As a run blocker, Mathis was mostly effective. He did have a few blocks that he missed, or failed on, but most of it was good. His pass blocking is where his grade takes a major hit. He was largely ineffective, but a lot of that is due to the planning of the Colts. They knew interior pressure is how to really make Manning uncomfortable so they brought a lot of interior heat. It was more than the Broncos interior offensive linemen, including Mathis, could deal with.
Matt Paradis, C
Snaps: 52. Stats: 3 QB hits and 1 hurry allowed.
Similar to Mathis, the interior pressure gave Paradis troubles. His inexperience really does him no favors in those situations, as it hasn’t all season long. In the run game, Paradis has developed into a really solid run blocking center. He does have his miscues, but for the most part he makes a key block or two.
Louis Vasquez, RG
Snaps: 34. Stats: 1 sack allowed.
Vasquez had a really rough game. The interior pressure left him lost a few times, with his head spinning, including on the play he allowed the sack. On top of bad pass blocking, his run blocking wasn’t anything better than decent, and that was only on occasion. He really struggled, and seems like he got hurt, which would explain him rotating out.
Snaps: 52. Stats: 2 QB hits and 1 hurry allowed.
It was a rough game from Schofield, but not his worst and not all that bad. He had some really bad moments, both in pass protection and run blocking, but he also had some brilliant moments. His lack of experience has shown, especially pass protection against the Colts. They exploited this weakness in both Paradis and Schofield multiple times during the game.
Now that wraps up the starters. Time to jump into the players who subbed into the game.
C.J. Anderson, RB
Snaps: 27. Stats: 7 rushes for 34 yards, 2 targets, 1 catch for 4 yards, 1 dropped pass.
Anderson was the effective runner. He had three runs go for nothing or a loss, but two went for 10 yards, and one for eight. He also had a four and two-yard rush. He was effective running the ball, and had the burst to help take advantage of the blocking from the offensive line.
Andre Caldwell, WR
Snaps: 18. Stats: 1 target, zero catches.
Caldwell again went back to being a no-show on offense. He had one pass thrown his way, which was off target and basically thrown away. His routes just were not very good, and neither was his blocking.
Bennie Fowler, WR
Snaps: 15. Stats: 3 targets, 2 catches for 22 yards.
With Jordan Norwood out, Fowler again got a lot of opportunities. He made the most of them. He made a couple of tough catches, and picked up good yards. His route running was crisp, and he has some great hands. He also is a tough blocker, who has some great technique, which he is always showing.
Tyler Polumbus, LT
Snaps: 17. Stats: N/A.
Polumbus rotated in and brought some sort of stability to the offensive line. He has continued to out-play Ryan Harris, and should be the full-time starter.
Max Garcia, OG
Snaps: 22. Stats: 1 QB hit and 2 hurries allowed.
The rookie stepped in for Mathis for a handful of snaps, but mostly stepped in for Vasquez. It wasn’t pretty for the rookie, who struggled in pass protection and run blocking. Part of what is getting Garcia snaps is injuries. Hopefully, with how he has played, the starting guards can get healthy and stay healthy.
That nearly wraps up the players who subbed into the game. All that are left are three players who saw less than ten snaps. Newest addition Vernon Davis saw the most, with nine. He got targeted once, but the pass was incomplete. It is widely known that Davis struggles to pick up new offenses, so the fact he had no impact was expected. It’ll be a couple more weeks before you really see his impact. Cody Latimer saw eight snaps and showed why he isn’t getting serious action. Finally, there was James Ferentz, who saw one snap on the game.
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