People don’t necessarily focus on the offensive line, but it’s always the catalyst for any play, good or bad.
In a game featuring all kinds of stars including Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Wes Welker, and Dez Bryant among others, our matchup of the week takes place on the line where Broncos left tackle Chris Clark will face a tough task against Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware.
Clark became the starter when Pro Bowl tackle Ryan Clady was lost for the season with a Lisfranc injury. The good thing is that Clark saw plenty of reps in camp and in preseason as Clady was recovering from his off season shoulder injury. It may have taken Clark six years in the NFL to finally get his first start at left tackle, but in the two games that’s he started, he’s only given up one sack.
This week Clark will go up against the Cowboys‘ all-time leader in sacks. The 6-4, 258-pound beast ran a 4.5 40-yard dash at the Combine and has proven his worth as the 11th overall pick of the 2005 draft. Ware has four sacks this season and his strengths include a deadly speed-power combination. He’s also experienced enough to know how to keep defenders’ hands off of him. Nearly a third of Ware’s career sacks come on first down.
Pass protection will be priority No. 1 for Clark, but don’t expect him to do it alone. The Broncos will probably throw in two blocking tight ends to help.
As for run blocking, Clark has improved. However, the Broncos’ big run plays this season have come behind the right side of the line. Expect the Broncos to turn their run game away from Ware today so that the zone blocking is easier on Clark.
It would have been nice to have Von Miller at practice the last month so that Clark and the rest of the team had some reps in practice against one of the best pass rushers in the league, but I digress.
Peyton Manning needs his opportunities and that will only come if Ware is slowed. This is one Texan the Broncos don’t want to mess with.