To call Denver Broncos right tackle Michael Schofield "embattled" would be an understatement. "Maligned" doesn't quite do it either. The guy is the least popular Bronco in the Peyton Manning era.
Take Exhibit A, a parody Twitter account. When you have one of these, you know you've either made it in the right way or the wrong way. Schofield's satirical faux-presence on social media definitely falls under the latter.
It's ok Peyton, I got the hang of this blocking now.— Michael Schofield (@MSchofield79) January 3, 2016
Take Exhibit B, a poll on this here Internet website asking who should start, Schofield or Tyler Polumbus. The results were nearly unanimous against Schofield in one of the most one-sided polls we've ever seen.
Yet somehow, Schofield was awesome last week
It defies expectation and logic, but Schofield had his best game as a pro against the Steelers, and he was one of the top-graded players among Broncos in the win. He had one bad holding penalty, but otherwise, he was solid. Even more than solid.
Wrote FO's Ben Muth -
Speaking of Schofield, this was by far the best I've ever seen him play. He had a big holding call that nullified a long run in the fourth quarter, but other than that he was solid all game. It was a remarkable turnaround for a guy that got benched (very deservedly so) for Tyler fricking Polumbus in the regular season finale. If he can give Denver two more games of B-level football, it changes the dynamic of the offense. That may seem like an exaggeration -- usually a right tackle playing better can't effect the offense that much -- but Schofield was so bad for large chunks of this year he was killing two to four drives a game with negative plays (tackles for loss, sacks, and/or penalties). He had just one holding penalty in this game, which is a huge improvement.
The challenge will be in that the Broncos are facing a much tougher defense and pass rush in the Patriots than they faced vs. the Steelers. Chandler Jones is banged up but still will pose a very real threat to Peyton Manning's offense if he matches up against Schofield one-on-one. So far Gary Kubiak hasn't been inclined to give Schofield a lot of help either.
That means Schofield could be on an island again. Will he repeat his impressive playoff performance of a week ago? If a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, Denver's Super Bowl berth could depend on it.
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