Grading The Denver Broncos Offensive Performances In The AFC Title Game

The Broncos won the AFC Championship game and are now on their eighth Super Bowl trip. The offense played well for a few drives, but most of the time left a lot on the field. Just how well did they play on an individual level? MHH Analyst Erick Trickel examines.

To be completely honest, the Denver Broncos offense were lucky their defense played outstanding. That allowed them to play well enough, and do so for only a few drives, and still come out with a win. For the most part, the offense had little-to-no success moving the ball, especially in the second half of the game.

They had ample opportunity to put the game away, and not have to rely so much on the Broncos defense, but they were unable to do so. Even though the New England Patriots defense played well, the issues on the offense were caused by the Broncos offense and not the defense.

However, they still managed to come out with the win and lead the Broncos to their eighth Super Bowl. With that said, let us jump into the player grades.

Peyton Manning, QB

Snaps: 68 Stats: Responsible for 1 sack and 1 hurry. 17-of-32 for 176 and 2 touchdowns.

True accuracy: 12-of-15 for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns. 3 rushes for 11 yards.

The Broncos quarterback really played a poor game when it is all said and done. He made some beautiful throws, including two for touchdowns, but there were so few. As the game went on, he was missing some wide open receivers on easy throws. There were no pressures on most of these, he just was placing the ball very poorly, not giving his receivers a chance to make the play.

The offense had ample opportunity to put the game away, but a large reason they didn’t were due to some very poor ball placement, and throws, coming from their quarterback. His few beautiful throws ended up being enough to win the game, thanks to the Broncos defense.

Grade: 63.8

Ronnie Hillman, RB

Snaps: 28 Stats: 1 hurry allowed. 11 rushes for 16 yards. 1 catch on 2 targets for 7 yards.

Putting it bluntly, it was an awful game from Hillman. He was unable to get anything on the ground, and it wasn’t all on him, as the O-line were unable to generate much, if any, push. Of course, some of the issues were because of Hillman.

At times, he was far too patient and missed open holes, or lacked the vision to hit the open hole and pick up yards. On one run in particular, he had the backside wide open, but instead, tried to find a path through the trash. He could’ve had at least five yards, but only picked up one.

Grade: 21.8

Emmanuel Sanders, WR

Snaps: 56 Stats: 5 catches on 8 targets for 62 yards.

The receiver had a solid game, and bailed out his quarterback a few times. On one play in particular, the quarterback threw the ball short, which would have been picked off, if not for the aggressive comeback and highpointing by Sanders to come down with the catch.

When Sanders has an opportunity after the catch, he is even more dangerous, but he had no chance to pick up YAC this game, and ended with only a single yard after the catch.

Grade: 88.5

Demaryius Thomas, WR

Snaps: 56 Stats: 2 catches on 7 targets for 12 yards.

For Thomas, he may as well not have shown up against the Patriots, which is usual for Thomas. When the two teams met earlier this season, Thomas caught one pass on 13 (yes, 13) targets. He had four drops that game, and many other issues, which resulted in his 0.0 grade.

This game wasn’t that bad, as there were no drops by Thomas, just some great plays in coverage against him, but he really looked defeated out there before the first half was even over.

Grade: 13.1

Owen Daniels, TE

Snaps: 51 Stats: 1 hurry allowed. 2 catches on 3 targets for 33 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Daniels was the difference maker for the offense. He got a favorable matchup, twice, in coverage, which he was able to exploit for two touchdowns. On top of what he was able to do as a receiver (he caught the eye of the quarterback), Daniels looked good even when the ball wasn’t thrown his way. The only big negative to Daniels' game was his run blocking, which was on par for what is usual with him.

Grade: 87.7

Virgil Green, TE

Snaps: 32. Stats: zero catches on 1 target.

There wasn’t a chance for Green to show what he could do as a receiver, as he was rarely used in that way. He was primarily kept in to help block, or as a run blocker and thats how he saw most of his time on the field. Blocking is what Green is known for, and he showed why this game. His blocking was consistent and nearly perfect all game. There were only a few instances where that wasn’t the case.

Grade: 86.9

Ryan Harris, LT

Snaps: 68 Stats: 2 hurries allowed.

The left tackle had a tough matchup this game, and he handled it very well, as a pass blocker that is. Allowing only two hurries in this game was outstanding. However, the run blocking from Harris was poor to start, and didn’t get any better as the game went on.

Grade: 67.1

Evan Mathis, LG

Snaps: 55 Stats: 2 hurries allowed.

The left guard was benched towards the end of the season because of bad play, and injury. Since regaining the starting position for the playoffs, Mathis has played well. His run blocking, which is how he made a name for himself, has been below average.

He often finds himself beaten at the line with quick moves, or strength, and just struggles to get any kind of control. Now, he does have some great moments as a run blocker, but there is little-to-no consistency to his game. As for pass blocking, he looked really good against a tough matchup.

Grade: 69.9

Matt Paradis, C

Snaps: 68 Stats: 1 sack allowed.

Paradis was far and away the best lineman out there for the Broncos. His game against the Patriots was near excellent. There were some negative marks in his run blocking, but for the most part, it was really strong. The big negative mark for Paradis’ game came on a sack, where he was beaten off the snap and couldn’t recover.

Grade: 91.8

Louis Vasquez, RG

Snaps: 56 Stats: 1 sack allowed.

The right guard didn’t play a full game, but played well when he was out on the field, which was the majority of the game. He left due to an injury to his right shoulder, which he has been nursing for a while. Obviously, there was a sack allowed by Vasquez, but it is also on the quarterback, who had time to throw it away, but didn’t.

As for Vasquez as a run blocker, he was strong, albeit inconsistent. There were some big blocks he made on a few runs, that without him, wouldn't have gone for near as long as they did.

Grade: 71.9

Michael Schofield, RT

Snaps: 68 Stats: 2 hurries and 1 stop allowed.

The right tackle ended up playing one of the best games of his career against the Patriots, which is speaking to how poorly he has played in previous games. While he wasn’t completely awful, he wasn’t much more than just solid, in both his pass protection and run blocking.

Grade: 68.3

That wraps it up for those who started the game for the Broncos. Next up are the players who saw ten or more snaps.

C.J. Anderson, RB

Snaps: 34. Stats: 2 hurries and 1 stop allowed. 16 rushes for 72 yards. 3 catches on 3 targets for 18 yards.

What was seen from Anderson wasn’t pretty by any means. He had one great run for 30 yards, which accounts for his rushing total and why he carried a 4.5 YPC average. Take away that one rush, he had a 2.6 average. It was a similar situation with Hillman. While it all wasn’t on him, it wasn’t all on what was going on up front, either.

Grade: 62.9

Jordan Norwood, WR

Snaps: Stats: 2 catches on 3 targets for 16 yards.

For the smaller slot receiver, it was a very decent game. He was getting some really good separation from the defensive backs to create space to make the catch, but just didn’t see the ball thrown his way often. On a few passing attempts, Norwood had a lot of open room, but the pass went elsewhere and fell incomplete. The big drawback to Norwood’s game is his blocking, which has always been below average at best.

Grade: 71.8

Bennie Fowler, WR

Snaps: 15. Stats: zero catches on 1 target.

Over the past few weeks, I have mentioned Fowler’s blocking and being on the blocking squad for the receivers. It wasn’t much different against the Patriots, and his great blocking is why he is part of that group. At the same time, he has shown he is a more than capable receiver when called upon.

Grade: 79.2

Andre Caldwell, WR

Snaps: 11. Stats: 1 catch on 1 target for 15 yards.

Outside of his one catch, there wasn’t much noteworthy from Caldwell. When he was tasked to run routes, he had a hard time getting separation. As for his blocking, he looked really good.

Grade: 74.6

Vernon Davis, TE

Snaps: 10. Stats: 1 stop allowed. Zero catches on 1 target.

With only ten snaps, Davis barely saw enough snaps to get a grade. He did nothing noteworthy, except crawl somewhat out of the doghouse to see nine more snaps than he has the last few games.

Grade: 30.9

Max Garcia, LG/RG

Snaps: 26. Stats: 1 hurry and 1 stop allowed

The backup still saw a lot of action at both guard spots, even as a sixth offensive linemen. He looked really good in both aspects of his blocking, even though it was in limited action.

Grade: 87.9

All that are left are players who saw less than ten snaps. There were three players, and two of them are offensive linemen. The non-offensive lineman was receiver Cody Latimer, who saw eight snaps. In those eight snaps he caught the one pass thrown his way for 13 yards. As for the offensive linemen, veteran Tyler Polumbus saw four snaps, while James Ferentz saw only one snap.

To get instant Broncos notifications, download the NEW Scout mobile app for iOS HERE! 

Be sure to check out the ever-growing benefit package of being a Mile High Huddle Insider! Check it out HERE.

Erick Trickel in an Analyst for MileHighHuddle. You can find him on Twitter @Alaskan_Bronco. And be sure to like MileHighHuddle on Facebook

Follow MileHighHuddle on Twitter @MileHighHuddle and become a subscriber to receive access to premium content and discounted Broncos tickets and merchandise.


Mile High Huddle Top Stories