There were just a handful of O-Line mistakes in the Buffalo Bills game but nothing that led to lost points or a sack of the quarterback. And in fact, the line contributed mightily once again as the run-game showed up in a big way with three scoring touchdowns.
What reshuffle problems? Even CH74, our own offensive line coach, believes the growing pains from moving the line around are subsiding and the Big Uglies are playing well together, something that should only get better in the last three games of the regular season.
Offensive coordinator Adam Gase believes the entire line has successfully transitioned into their new assignments.
"I think that whole group has done a good job since we made that change," Gase said Thursday. "He's done a good job of getting to the second level. Manny and Louis have done a good job on that right side, making sure we've been solid in protection, and they've been really good in the run game. I think that group as a whole has done a really good job, especially the last three weeks."
The Broncos had another game in which they pounded the rock in the running game against a tough defense. Don't look now, but the Broncos are playing what is thought of in a lot of circles as playoff-style football with tough defense and a run game that has been able to get it done for three straight weeks. That type of success on the ground is becoming a trend that we as fans should not ignore.
The Broncos' second possession of the second quarter is exactly the type of offense that equates to success in the playoffs. It was a 10-play drive that went 60 yards and consumed nearly five and a half minutes of game clock. Nine of those plays featured the Broncos running backs and offensive line pounding the rock on a tough Buffalo defensive front.
This is the type of play that the Broncos have been missing in the playoffs for the last two seasons. If the Broncos had the ability to play that style of football against the Ravens, our good friend Ray Lewis doesn't get to go out on top as a Super Bowl champion. If last year's Broncos had that ability back in February, 43-8 would not be the ultimate insult to Broncos fans everywhere!
The shuffle that I belly ached about a few weeks ago seems like a distant memory, and the unit is starting to gel and play well together as a run-blocking unit. There are still areas for concern, but these guys are getting it done on the ground and have transformed this offense into a much more balanced unit, capable of winning a game running the ball or passing.
Out of all the offenses of the Peyton Manning era, this group is shaping up to closely resemble the offense that brought two Lombardi Trophies to Denver more than any other. It hasn't always been pretty, but neither was that first Super Bowl-winning Broncos season. If you were living under a rock or aren't old enough to remember, that Broncos team made the playoffs as a Wild Card and went on a terror during the postseason. This Denver Broncos team has that same potential and more than likely will have a similar road back to the big game unless we happen to catch New England slipping in the next few weeks!
This game was practically a blueprint of what I expected from the Broncos. They came out in the heavy set and ran the ball and took some shots when they needed to in the passing game. The Bills played the run tough, but the Broncos stayed committed. Will Montgomery had struggles against Marcel Dareus as did Manny Ramirez, which helps to explain their lackluster PFF grades for week 14. I knew Dareus would be tough competition, but the Broncos did well enough against him that outside of making a couple of our interior guys look bad at times, he wasn't a huge factor in the game.
During my time of doing these reviews for MHR, I have often spoken about the mentality of running the football. With 13:12 left in the third, the Broncos showed me that mentality in spades. We all remember the play - Juwan Thompson takes the ball around the left end and rumbles for 47 yards.
Looking at the play, we see the nastiness everyone has been looking for. Each man across the front fires out and hits someone. Will Montgomery's block to the second level from the left guard position is huge here. Though Monty got beat up a little in this game - and by PFF afterward - this was the biggest block of the game. The entire O-line shifting over one position to the left will give teams something to think about going forward. That right there folks is the mindset that is required to consistently and successfully run the football!
LT Ryan Clady (#78): Clady had very few entries in my notes and flew under the radar. Outside of a second-level whiff with 5:03 left in the second, and losing his footing on a run play late in the third, Clady had a pretty solid outing.
CH74's Score: PB (=) RB (=) HD (=) FT (=) LV (=) PL/T () PNT (=)
LG Orlando Franklin (#74): Franklin was a little up and down in this game. Big O had a whiff at the second level with 4:40 left in the second. Franklin helped C.J. Anderson with a well-timed shove on his second TD run on the afternoon with 3:33 left in the second.
CH74's Score: PB (=) RB (=) HD (=) FT (=) LV (=) PL/T (=) PNT (=)
C Will Montgomery (#64): Monty had the unenviable task of taking on Marcel Dareus in this game. Montgomery had some struggles but also had some bright spots in this game, even though PFF's grade would lead you to believe otherwise. We already looked at his huge second-level block on Thompson's big gain. Monty got a little revenge on Dareus with 12:04 left in the third on Anderson's third TD run of the day. Monty logged a knock down of Dareus on the play using good leverage and hand placement.
CH74's Score: PB (=) RB (=) HD (+) FT (=) LV (+) PL/T () PNT (-)
RG Manny Ramirez (#66): Manny also struggled in this game. In ManRam's defense, he did spend some time in one-on-ones with Dareus. Dareus beat Manny with a nice outside swim with 6:21 left in the second. Right now, Ramirez is the weak link on the line. He needs to step it up down the stretch!
CH74's Score: PB (=) RB (=) HD (=) FT (=) LV (=) PL/T (=) PNT (-)
RT Louis Vasquez (#65): Big Lou is finally starting to look comfortable at tackle. He had a nice second-level block at 2:48 left in the first on CJ's first TD run. Vasquez did have a couple plays where he looked a little out of sorts though. He was beaten by a nice inside swim move with 6:55 left in the second and was beaten again later in the second. Big Lou rallied late in the game and had an impressive second half.
CH74's Score: PB (=) RB (=) HD (=) FT (=) LV (=) PL/T () PNT (=)
Ext Paul Cornick (#71): Paul looked like a real Cornick out there on Sunday, and it seems he was used a little more sparingly than he has been in the recent past. Cornick got beat badly with 3:56 left in the second and was also called for a holding penalty late in the fourth.
CH74's Score: PB (=) RB (=) HD (=) FT (=) LV (=) PL/T () PNT (-)
LG Ben Garland (#63): There was a Ben Garland sighting in the Buffalo game. Ben saw a snap late in the game when Vasquez went down for a play. Ben blocked into the second-level but lost his footing. There is no grade for Ben; the sample size was just not big enough.
What to look for against the Chargers:
I want to see more of the nasty attitude this line has developed over the past few weeks. In fact, I want to see that attitude in every game until the end of the season. I like what I am seeing in the run game. It took long enough, but we're finally getting to where we need to be.
I like the balance and the fact that the offense has the ability to keep the defense guessing. I like the fact that the Broncos have the ability to pick up the hard yards on the ground!
Bring on the Chargers!!