Sliding in just before the deadline, CH74 is here with your favorite weekly report - how good (or not so good) were those Big Uglies anyway?
The good news is that there are answers for their obvious problems without a major shift in the O-Line itself. Somebody quick - call the Broncos coaching staff to let them know we have the answer!
I just wanted to start out this week's report with an apology for my lateness. Unfortunately, I am entering the busiest time of the year for my day job and work clashed with my scouting this week. I had to break it down into smaller sessions and spread it out over another day and a half to get a good look. Sorry folks, but I guess it's better late than never?! (*editor's note: It absolutely is!!)
Denver v. New England
First, I have some thoughts and observations to share with you on Sunday's game. Once again, the silent snap count bit the offense in the backside. About halfway through that dreadful second quarter, I noticed a trend that would keep popping up throughout the game.
The Patriots dialed in on the silent count and were beating the Broncos to the punch. This has been an issue through all three road games as well as last season's Super Bowl. There are some solutions to the issue, and it will go a long way to cleaning up the Broncos' road struggles.
First of all, the shotgun formation is becoming the bane of the offensive line's existence on the road. We discussed that issue at length after the Seahawks game. This issue is magnified when using the silent snap count because everyone in the freaking stadium who is paying attention knows when the ball is going to be snapped. A number of the A-Gap blitzes employed by the Patriots were aided by getting a good jump on the snap.
Offensive Line could be in for massive shift
The rumors are sounding less like rumors and more like truth and that means a major shift in the O-Line.
We already know the silent count takes away the edge the offensive line has in knowing the snap count, and we know that losing that edge is especially detrimental to run blocking. When you add the increased difficulty of run blocking out of the shotgun, the Broncos are putting their offensive linemen in a very unfavorable situation to successfully run block in a noisy stadium. It seems overly simple, but the Broncos need more offense from under center.
First and foremost, it is easier to block running plays from under center. Second, it makes it a lot harder for the defense to guess the snap count and get a jump on the offense. By using a silent count in the gun, you are advertising to the defense when the ball will be snapped.
I know we are all very concerned with Sunday's performance, but in midst of all that went wrong, there were some promising signs that this team is willing to punch back when it gets smacked in the mouth. This game hinged on the second quarter. Peyton Manning was off target on some of his throws, and his receivers weren't doing him any favors with some dropped balls that should have been caught. Manning's delay of game penalty in the first series ended up being a precursor for the entire game.
If you're new to this series, you are in for a treat, but just so you know what's going on, here's the key:
For those new to this awesome series, here is a key to CH74's "grades" on our Big Uglies:
- PB - Pass Blocking
- RB - Run Blocking
- HD - Hand Placement
- LV - Leverage/Pad Height
- FT - Footwork
- PL/T - Pull and Trap Blocking
- PNT - Penalties
- (=) Average Performance
- (+) Above Average Performance
- (-) Below Average Performance
LT Ryan Clady (#78): Ryan had some struggles against the Patriots, but his overall game appears to be getting more consistent. Clady and Franklin had a miscommunication on the fourth down play with 2:09 left in the second quarter. That miscommunication led to Manning getting sacked for a 9-yard loss and ending a drive that looked promising until that sequence. Clady steadied himself and had a nice transition with Franklin against Vince Wilfork late in the game.
CH74's Score: PB (=) RB (=) HD (=) FT (=) LV (=) PL/T () PNT (=)
LG Orlando Franklin (#74): Big O logged yet another consistent performance. Franklin is still having issues with hitting his target when pulling. He missed badly on a trap block late in the fourth quarter, but No. 74 was solid in straight up run blocking and in pass protection. The left side of the line and Manny had a really nice set up on a screen to Ronnie Hillman early in the third quarter.
CH74's Score: PB (=) RB (=) HD (=) FT (=) LV (=) PL/T (-) PNT (=)
C Manny Ramirez (#66): ManRam had a rough first half but steadied his play in the second half of the game. Manny missed blocks on three separate occasions in the first quarter, culminating with a big whiff on Collins with 5:09 left in the first quarter. Manny did avenge the whiff in the fourth quarter, logging a knockdown on a Collins blitz.
CH74's Score: PB (=) RB (-) HD (=) FT (=) LV (=) PL/T () PNT (=)
RG Louis Vasquez (#65): Vasquez flew under the radar in this game, which bodes well for him. Louie doesn't appear anywhere in my notes, but I do remember him making a nice fold block late in the game.
CH74's Score: PB (=) RB (=) HD (=) FT (=) LV (=) PL/T (+) PNT (=)
RT Paul Cornick (#71): Cornick came crashing back down to earth Sunday. The Broncos were never in a position to provide him with outside help, and Rob Ninkovich was consistently applying pressure and beating the slow-footed RT on the edge.
I did notice that Cornick has tweaked his game a little, but it wasn't enough to give him a good game. He looked every bit the matador with 4:23 left in the second (above). Unlike Manny, Cornick did not bounce back in the second half. Cornick got beat by Ninkovich around the edge again with 11:35 to go in the fourth quarter (below).
Cornick was the only offensive lineman to give up a penalty on the day. I was left wondering how Chris Clark would have performed if he had gotten the nod for this game.
CH74's Score: PB (-) RB (=) HD (=) FT (=) LV (=) PL/T () PNT (-)
What to look for against the Raiders:
Use this game to work on running the offense from under center and changing up the silent count. In my opinion, the Broncos offensive woes on the road can be directly attributed to running the offense on a silent count from the shotgun.
These offensive shortcomings are a large part of the Broncos overall struggles on the road. Manning could have caught some well-timed A-Gap blitzes offsides had he thrown some dummy signals in there. That would serve to slow down a defense that was starting to tee off on the offensive line.
I want to see the Broncos establish the run game and have a combined rushing yardage total around 150 yards. The false narrative that the Broncos cannot run the ball has once again surfaced, and I would love nothing more to shut the talking heads up for at least a week.
There have been rumors of another O-Line shake up following the performance at New England, and Cornick showing up on the injury report. I think the most successful approach for the Broncos would be to keep it simple, start Clark at right tackle and force him to run block! Right now, I am certain of one thing - Clark's run blocking is nowhere near as bad as Cornick's pass blocking. If you are looking for a big O-Line shake up, I wouldn't hold your breath!