There are some weeks when posts like these are hard to write. This is one of those weeks. The positive aspect, however, is that I get to remind myself and all of you that the blowout loss wasn't a total defeat. On an individual level, several plays excelled rather nicely in their assignments, but for the most part it was a sea of red on these grades.
Peyton Manning was bad enough to eek out a negative score at -0.2, which was fairly good compared to the right side of the offensive line and Ronnie Hillman - but more on that later. On the defensive side of the ball, run stoppers and pass rushers graded nicely, but anyone defending a Tom Brady pass is likely staring a horrible grade in the face.
The Denver Broncos had some positives and it will be nice to give some blue ribbons in an otherwise forgettable loss to the New England Patriots.
Let's get this In Focus show on the road, shall we?
LT Ryan Clady +2.8. As bad as the right side of the line was, Ryan Clady had himself a fantastic evening dominating the best the Patriots could throw at him. Of course, with atrocious play on the right side of the line the mastermind Bill Belichick probably just started exploiting those two gigantic fails on the afternoon. The lack of consistency from the offensive line as a whole is really starting to get annoying. It's Peyton freaking Manning, which means you just have to defend the line for like 1.8 seconds. Seriously.
WR Emmanuel Sanders +1.7. Yours truly predicted this one after having combed Emmanuel Sanders career stats to find that Sanders had his biggest statistical games of his career prior to coming to Denver against these very Patriots. You can include this game on that list as well, as Sanders put up an impressive 10 catch 151 yard performance against a defense that frustrating Manning all night long. After eight games, Sanders is on pace for 114 receptions for 1570 yards and 8 touchdowns. Eric Decker who?
WR Demaryius Thomas +0.8. Quietly and unassumingly, as Demaryius Thomas would like it, he notched his fifth consecutive 100 yard receiving day with 7 catches for 127 yards. You may have missed this, but last week a Cincinnati Bengals fan on Mile High Report was disgusted that we even considered DT to be A.J. Green's equal. Not sure how to respond to that kind of homerism, but DT is on pace for 108 catches for 1788 yards and 12 touchdowns. Green isn't even close to that kind of production, even in past years. In fact, let's compare the two real quick...
A.J. Green Stats 2011-present
Demaryius Thomas Stats 2011-present
Yep, Demaryius Thomas wins. The dude even had to deal with Tim Tebow in 2011 for crying out loud. My message to that Bengals fan? Pound sand, buddy.
Needs Improvement: Ronnie Hillman at -5.7 and Paul Cornick at -4.7 really screwed the pooch on Sunday. The frightening part for me is wondering what Hillman's grade would have been had he not scored that touchdown, but the -4.0 in pass blocking is all I need to know how bad it was out there. As for Cornick, he was nearly equally terrible in pass blocking and run blocking. He needs to find some consistency or I'd rather see a more consistently below average Chris Clark out there for now.
DE DeMarcus Ware +3.6. DeMarcus Ware was an animal all afternoon long. He was a guy I kept noticing play after play getting close to Tom Brady. The issue was that Brady was getting the ball out so fast it didn't matter. The Broncos secondary took the day off apparently, but more on that later. Ware was all over the place and really the only true standout on defense in this game. He was also the only newly-signed free agent to not post a red score that day.
LB Von Miller +1.7. Aside from our own Bronco Mike's sarcastic breakdown of Von Miller's disastrous assignment of one-on-one coverage against Rob Gronkowski that ended in an easy touchdown pass for Tom Brady, Miller played an outstanding game overall. He and Ware combined for most of the pressure on Brady on the night, but he also helped keep the pathetic Patriots rushing attack in check all night long.
DT Sylvester Williams +2.3 & DE Malik Jackson +2.1. Yeah, I know they both had high scores than Von Miller, but Miller played 79 defensive snaps to Sylvester Williams with his 27 snaps and Malik Jackson's 38. That said, both players have had up and down weeks, so at least they went out there ad performed at a high level at a time when the defensive unit around them was collapsing in the face of Brady's prolific annihilation of the secondary. One of the highlights on the night was brought by an interior pressure on Brady by Jackson that forced this awesome interception by rookie Bradley Roby.
Needs Improvement: I am going to go with a three way tie here, even though Aqib Talib -3.9 deserves the honor here, especially with his -5.1 grade in pass coverage. It surely looks like he completely psyched himself out going up against his former team. If that is his excuse, then I am not sure what T.J. Ward -2.7 or Rahim Moore -1.2 have to say for themselves. Ward and Talib both posted their worst pass coverage grades of the year, while Moore allowed an embarrassing 134.0 QB rating from Brady when covering Patriots running back Shane Vereen. Awful. These guys better step it up against rookie Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr next week.