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The incredible rise of Emmanuel Sanders

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

When Emmanuel Sanders was signed by the Denver Broncos during the 2014 offseason, most fans were excited at the his potential in the Peyton Manning offense. Few would have predicted he would become a monster offensive weapon opposite Demaryius Thomas.

All he did was take the NFL by storm in 2014 and now is already off to another great start in 2015.

Emmanuel Sanders Career Stats
2010 PIT 13 28 376 13.4 2
2011 PIT 11 22 288 13.1 2
2012 PIT 16 44 626 14.2 1
2013 PIT 16 67 740 11.0 6
2014 DEN 16 101 1404 13.9 9
2015 DEN 2 16 152 9.5 2

The increase in production from his first four years in the league is incredible. What changed from his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers that could have caused such an incredible ride in production? Sanders himself may have alluded to that when replying to a fan on Twitter recently.

Thomas gobbles up those double teams, allowing Sanders to beat his man straight up. Thomas still gets his too, as is evident to his becoming just the third player in NFL history (Jerry Rice and Marvin Harrison being the other two) to catch 90 passes for over 1400 yards with 10 touchdowns in three or more consecutive seasons.

Whatever the reason, Sanders is money on route running and is becoming Manning's favorite third down target and, ultimately, his favorite red zone target. In fact, of Sanders 16 receptions on the season, 10 came on third down conversions along with both of his touchdown receptions.

When he isn't running crisp routes like the third down for a touchdown above, he is simply beating cornerbacks straight up like his game tying touchdown in the final minute of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

I am convinced the Broncos have the best wide receiver duo in the NFL and if Manning can rediscover his deep ball this offense is going to explode in production. Until then, its going to be on Sanders and Thomas to get open on third downs to keep this dink and dunk offense on life support while the defense continues to dominate as it has through two games.

The only question is, when will that wealth of talent on the outside turn into a 4+ touchdown game for Manning?