With yesterday’s injury to back-up Center, Dan Koppen, many Broncos fans are in a panic. It might be a little premature to hit the eject button on the 2013 season though. I know there is a great deal of doubt in Broncos Country concerning one Manuel Ramirez, but a lot of that is misplaced doubt. Ramirez can carry the load at Center for the Broncos. A lot of posters and commentators here have been telling us all why he will fail. I am here to tell you all why he will succeed.
Beastly Red Raider, Whimpering Kitty Kat
Manny Ramirez was a three year starter at Texas Tech. He anchored an offensive line that was an integral part of a very prolific offense. Manny was ranked the sixth-best center in the country (Rivals100.com) coming out of high school and started his career at Tech as a utility backup. Manny took over the starting RG position 4 games into his freshman season, where he stayed. Ramirez was described as a “leader on the field and in the locker-room” and “one of the best pass protectors and run blockers in recent memory at Tech”. Manny Ramirez set the Texas Tech bench press record by putting up an astounding 550 lbs. in the spring of 2005. He played at 335 in Lubbock and he was a beast by all accounts. He’s now a svelte 313, undoubtedly to be better in pass protection.
Ramirez received invites to the Senior Bowl and the Combine. Manny was taken in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Detroit traded two of their three fifth-round selections (139th and 154th overall) to the St. Louis Rams for their fourth-round selection (117th overall) in order to select Ramirez. Teams don’t trade up to select an interior lineman unless they view him as a starter.
Manny had some solid attributes coming out of college, but he had the misfortune of being drafted by Matt Millen and going to a Lions team that was about to get the wrecking ball. Only a year into his pro career, the Lions went 0-16. I think it is safe to say, Ramirez started out his NFL career in a hole, both literally and figuratively.
Gibbs, Magazu, Offensive Line Genius
Thankfully, the Denver Broncos are not the Detroit Lions. For 2013, the Broncos have two of the best Offensive Line Coaches to ever menace a practice field. Manny Ramirez will progress in 2013 where he hasn’t had the opportunity to do so before due to being on a team in flux and then getting buried on the depth chart behind younger talent. With Gibbs and Magazu in the mix, Ramirez is going to get coached up like never before. He will get a crash course in starting at Center by two of the best in the business. Everyone who is scratching their heads over the Gibbs hire can stop now. Alex Gibbs is here for situations just like this. In fact, there needs to be a big Manny Ramirez sandwich with Alex Gibbs yelling in one ear, while Peyton Manning whispers in the other.
Missed Snaps and Mishaps
WillyBFree has been pounding the drum about miss handled snaps in relation to Manny. There was a mention of one yesterday right after Koppen went out. That is to be expected. What you need to realize, my MHR brethren, like the Tango, it takes two for a successful Center/QB exchange. The majority of mishandled snaps under center are the fault of the QB. This often happens when a change at Center occurs in midstream. Each Center has his own little nuances when he snaps. Sometimes it takes a little time for a QB to get used to those nuances. Snapping the ball is not rocket science. You don’t need a PHD to figure it out. To do it consistently, like everything else in football, it requires repetition. Give Manny and Manning enough reps together, and this won't be a problem.
There are two schools of thought in the NFL concerning calling protections and blocking schemes. One school of thought is the Center calls the protections; the other school of thought is the QB calls it. Both work well in different situations. If you have a young QB who isn’t very adept at reading a defense, you have the Center call the protection. If you have an experienced QB who can see the entire defense and read it, you have the QB call the protection. Where do you think the Broncos fit here?
If you have a QB that can read a defense, it is far more effective to have him call the protections. If any of you have played offensive line, you know it is probably the worst seat in the house. When you are down in a three point stance, all you really get to see is the big ugly in front of you and the legs of the linebackers moving around behind him. If a safety is sneaking up on a blitz, the guys on the offensive line are the last to know about it. If you are worried about Manny being able to call the right protections, don’t. He is going to have a few simple calls to make and that is about it. Peyton Manning is in a far better position to get the right protection called.
Continuity is Key
Continuity is something that is talked about a lot when it comes to the offensive line, but in the age of fantasy football and Madden, some folks tend to talk about it but not truly understand it. Manny Ramirez has been with the team going on three seasons now. He had eleven starts with this group last season. He knows the guy to his left and the guy to his right very well. This gives him an advantage over any free agent, retired relic, or scrub that another team is willing to trade. That familiarity will help him make the leap from underappreciated back up to solid starter.
Manny Ramirez was drafted into this league to be a starting interior lineman. Fate intervened on his development and that has yet to happen. Ramirez has shown vast improvement and steady progress since landing on the Broncos roster back in 2011. With the talented coaches on the Broncos staff and the opportunity for more reps; Manny Ramirez just may shock us all in 2013. It’s too early to push the eject button on a promising season. As Broncos fans, we need to let him succeed or fail on his own merits. Saying that he can’t because he hasn’t is laziness. A lot of us here at MHR blast Manny Ramirez, and a lot of us don’t really know enough about him to be putting him on blast. Relax Broncos fans, Manny is our best option right now. I have faith that he can get it done!