Four weeks into the NFL season, the Broncos' biggest weakness is somewhere on offense, no matter who you ask. Perhaps it's running back, where C.J. Anderson has struggled and Ronnie Hillman has only broken out in spurts. Or perhaps it's Peyton Manning at quarterback, where The Sheriff has been prone to more mistakes than we're used to. Or maybe it's the common link between both the running and passing game - the offensive line.
I fall in the group that believe Denver's O-line is its biggest Achilles Heel a quarter of the way into the season, so these ProFootballFocus.com rankings of NFL O-lines surprised me in that Denver isn't dead-last. They're not even Bottom 10. Via PFF:
Broncos 2015 1st Quarter: The No Bull Review
Sadaraine sums up some thoughts on what we've seen from our Denver Broncos in the first quarter of the 2015 season. What's the deal with our offense? What's the outlook for the rest of our season? I'll also talk about why we should all just simmer down and get off the cliff ledges.
20. Denver Broncos (10th in 2014)
Pass blocking rank: 22nd
Run blocking rank: 20th
Penalties ranks: 16th
Stud: It's Evan Mathis (+3.7), but he hasn't reached anywhere near the levels of play he was at in Philadelphia.
Dud: It was a lot to ask of Ty Sambrailo (-10.6) to adjust to life as an NFL left tackle—indeed, proving too much. He has struggled throughout the season.
Summary: The line does seem to be getting better, and the play of Matt Paradis can be considered a success. But with so much invested on defense, there is a feeling that Denver may have neglected this unit.
So at 20, the Broncos' offensive line is in the bottom half of the league, but just barely. It's not good by any means, and the offensive line needs to improve by the time the playoffs come around, but they're not as lowly-ranked as we expected. Check out their rankings so far below (Week 4's grade in parenthesis) -
Louis Vasquez: -1.7 (-0.2) Pass block +2.5, run block -4.0
Ryan Harris: -8.2 (-2.1) Pass block -5.6, run block -2.2
Matt Paradis: -1.5 (+1.7) Pass block -1.8, run block -0.1
Evan Mathis: +3.7 (+1.8) Pass block -1.1, run block +5.0
Ty Sambrailo: -10.6 (dnp) Pass block -4.0, run block -5.5
Michael Schofield: -0.1 (-0.1) Pass block -0.1, run block +1.3
Perhaps the biggest concern is that, within the division, only the Chargers rank lower (23rd) - the Kansas City Chiefs are 10th and the Oakland Raiders are 5th. Of course, the Broncos play the Raiders in Oakland this week, and these PFF grades suggest Oakland's O-line could be the Denver defenses' toughest task yet.