By Dan Meakin (@SithOfBradford)
All the way through the season, everyone was saying about Denver’s Offense. What’s up with them?
In short, although much of the talk was about Manning/Osweiler/Anderson/Hillman/Thomas it really didn’t stem THAT much from them. It’s said that Defenses win Championships. Offenses get you highlight reels. It’s also said the majority of games are won at the line of scrimmage.
The Offensive Line was the problem nearly all season. From losing Ryan Clady to a season ending injury before preseason, Ty Sambrailo then went out of position to play on the Left side until he was lost for the year. The excellent Evan Mathis played injured nearly all season. Michael Schofield was just bad.
Matt Paradis was a bright spot, and Max Garcia was given starting time a little too early. When the blocking and run protection was good, good things happened.
From Ronnie Hillmans 72 yard TD against the Vikings to C.J Andersons game winning touchdown against the Patriots in the Regular Season it showed flashes of how good those two can be. Then the game winning drive against the Lions where Peyton actually looked like Peyton. The opening drive in the Superbowl is a great example. Manning wasn’t touched at all, when Denver got into the redzone, things stalled. They put three points on the board on that drive mainly down to the great protection of Peyton and good run blocking for C.J
It’s a fact that the Offensive Line has a knock on effect to the rest of the Offense…. Any doubters just look at New England. Normally, the OL is great, but they were down injuries much like the Broncos, but starting some rookies. Seeing Tom Brady standing around picking out his man for about five seconds isn’t a collecters item at all. In the wake of the AFC game in Denver, the Patriots OL coach was fired.
At the beginning of the season, Denver had brought in James Casey a FB/TE who played under Coach Kubiak in Houston. Not a great pick up at all, because CJ and Ronnie desperately needed that extra blocker. Denver picked up a true fullback in Andy Janovich in the draft.
They added a third RB to add competition for CJ Anderson and Ronnie Hillman in Devontae Booker. The excellent Daniel Jeremiah(@MoveTheSticks) said he was the second best back in the draft behind Ezekiel Elliot, ahead of Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry who was took by the Titans in the second. Some mock drafts had Denver picking Devontae Booker at 31. They got him in the 4th, and that is a true value pick.
Paxton Lynch and Mark Sanchez will likely be an improvement on Manning and Osweiler. In Free Agency, Russell Okung is both an upgrade on Clady and a cheaper option, Donald Stephenson was brought in to signal the likely end in Denver for Michael Schofield. I’m guessing Khalil Mack isn’t too happy about that.
Ty Sambrailo will return and is apparently moving inside to Guard (likely because of Okung and Stephenson). Jeff Heureman will come in for what is his essentially his rookie season after being lost before preseason last year.
DT has no mini hold-out or off the field concerns with relations to his mother to worry about. Emmanuel Sanders will still be awesome. The Offense is greatly improved, will be more organised, will be harder to defend and the OL will hopefully be solid.
If all else fails…..Defense wins Championships.