Good news, MHR readers! Despite the downer NFL news all week and the streak of pessimism floating around Broncos news, CH74 has some upbeat insight on the O-Line. No the line isn't perfect, but it is promising and is showing improvement.
Really, can you ask for more than that? (hint: if your answer is yes, move along).
But before we all get too excited about the upcoming game against the Seattle Seahawks, let's put the Chiefs game to rest with some much needed offensive line evaluation to soothe our souls. Once again, THANK YOU CH74 for the incredible time and effort this entails.
3rd and 24, and Montee Ball picks up 23 on a rush. Some terrific downfield blocks, but Ball made 2 guys miss. #Broncos— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) September 14, 2014
CH74: It has been another exciting week here at MHR, and I am back with a scoop shovel full of awesomeness on the offensive line to throw at you!
Another tough and hard fought win in week two has some of the faithful gnashing teeth and ready to fire the coaching staff.
From my view down here in the trenches though, I can tell you folks, things are trending upward for the O-Line and the running game. Somebody at Dove Valley either has been reading my reports, or they saw what I have been noticing and addressed the issue. The Broncos made a conscious effort to disrupt the backside pursuit in week two, and it made a big difference!
- Montee Ball's decision-making looked a little sharper as he was able to find some cutback lanes and pick up some nice yardage. Ball finished the game with 12 runs for 60 yards and a 5 yards-per-catch average. That is a good complement to a Peyton Manning-led passing attack. I have a feeling we will continue to see improvement.
- Julius Thomas is still having some difficulties in his blocking. Orange Julius missed a backside seal on the first play of the second series, dooming the play and putting the Broncos behind in down and distance. He is showing improvement however, but I would like to see a whole lot more.
- Louis Vasquez received some kudos from the well-respected advanced stats site, Pro Football Focus. For once, I half-heartedly agree with them. Vasquez did have a solid game, but he also had a couple hiccups I think PFF may have missed. More on that in the individual grades section.
And now for the part everyone has been waiting for, the individual grades and a new segment I like to call CH74's Coach-UP of the Week, which is not for the sensitive or the faint of heart!
Grading the O-Line:
LT Ryan Clady (#78): Ryan is looking more and more confident each time I watch him. He is moving his feet well and has regained that quickness that we all know him for. He performed much better in the run game in week two and had an overall solid game against the Chiefs. Tamba Hali was able to beat him on a couple inside moves, but Ryan held up well for the most part against one of the better pass rushers in the division.
CH74's Score: PB (+) RB (=) HD (=) LV (=) FT (+) PL/T () PNT (=)
LG Orlando Franklin (#74): Franklin is looking a little more settled on the interior, but he is still having difficulty pulling; something the Broncos seem to have acknowledged by limiting the trap and fold blocks by both guards.The Broncos still run these plays, but not with the same frequency as they did in the preseason.
Franklin needs to work on finishing his initial block before blocking into the second level. When Franklin does finish off that initial block and gets loose in the second level, good things happen in the Broncos running game. I observed those good things in the fourth Broncos offensive series when Franklin got a nice knockdown opening a lane for Ball who missed the cutback lane.
CH74's Score: PB (+) RB (=) HD (=) LV (=) FT (=) PLT (-) PNT (=)
C Manny Ramirez (#66): Overall, Manny had another solid performance going up against the formidable Dontari Poe for the majority of his snaps. Manny was able to hang with Poe and get the better of him on several occasions, logging a knockdown in the fourth quarter-drive for a field goal.
Like Franklin, Ramirez had a few snaps where he failed to finish off his initial block and this may be another issue that the Broncos need to address if they want to continue their renewed commitment to running the ball more effectively.
Manny is showing me vast improvements in his footwork and some hustle that I hadn't really noticed before. He really has progressed before my very own eyes and is becoming a very good center. To think, Tommy Nalen said that Manny couldn't cut it? Manny is proving everybody wrong right now!
CH74's Score: PB (=) RB (+) HD (=) LV (=) FT (=) PLT () PNT (=)
RG Louis Vasquez (#65): When PFF hands out grades for O-Linemen, I am always a little dubious. I have always had a little trouble with their O-Line grading, and I trust my eyes a little more than I trust theirs. Call it arrogance or self-confidence, but if you can't trust yourself, who can you trust?
This week with Vasquez, PFF got it mostly right though. Vasquez would get my O-line game-ball this week, if I were handing them out, but he had far from a perfect game. On the sixth series, Vasquez missed a trap block on play action that led to a Tamba Hali sack on Peyton Manning. It was a tough block to make, but it is also a bread-and-butter play for the Broncos.
On Chris Clark's ineligible man down field call, Vasquez was right next to him and could also have been called, but he wasn't. Clark was three yards down field and Vasquez was two. I am sure that is something the Broncos will clean up this week! Louie finished strong but also had an instance where he did not sustain an initial block long enough. Look at this please, Mags?
CH74's Score: PB (=) RB (+) HD (=) LV (=) FT (=) PLT (-) PNT (=)
RT Chris Clark (#75): Clark had a rough game with penalties and some blocking miscues in which leverage seemed to be an issue. He needs some coaching up and some more mental toughness, but the kid is hanging in there.
CH74's Score: PB (=) RB (=) HD (=) LV (-) FT (=) PLT () PNT (-)
WARNING: CH74's Coach-Up of the Week: Chris Clark (Hide the women and children, this could get ugly)
Chris, your antics are making it increasingly difficult for me to defend you, but you did manage to play decent outside of a couple miscues where you picked up a clipping penalty and a Chief tried to pick a fight with you.
Your ineligible man down field is almost forgivable, except it needlessly nullified a huge play, and those types of calls have been made a point of emphasis for the 2014 season.
If that play occurred in 2013, you would have been A-OK, but its 2014! Keep your big butt on the line and go when the ball is released.
I can forgive you somewhat for the clipping penalty. Just make sure you get better position on the defender when you go to cut him - and always cut from the front!
Again, if you were part of the Orange Hush and it was 1998, this play would have probably been A-OK, but those guys ruined it for everybody. Keep up those mental errors, and I will be forced to activate the rookie and start Cornick. And nobody here wants that, do they?!
What to look for against the Seahawks:
This is the one we all have circled on the calendar. This is a shot at a small measure of redemption and renewed respect. Our old friend down in San Diego, Mike McCoy of the Run-Run-Pass School of Offensive Football has graciously provided us with a blueprint for success against the Legion of Boom. Who would have thought?
I would like to see a continued commitment to effective running of the football. Picking up the backside pursuit is a good start. Now let's see if Ball can find a few more cutback lanes when they present themselves and average 5 YPC against the most feared defense in all the land?
I want to see Orange Julius put a hat on someone this week in the run game. I want him to know that McGeorge called him a sissy and my assessment is not that far behind! Get mad JT and knock one of those mouthy Seachickens down!!! You can do it my man, and it's a lot more fun than dunking a basketball.
I had a rough week this week debating fandom and negativity with some of you. I want everyone to know, I harbor no ill will. I hope we can all come together this Sunday and cheer our team to victory and respectability!!