Versatility Up Front Key to Broncos’ Offensive Success
Oct 13, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas (80) is congratulated for his touchdown reception by tight end Virgil Green (85) and tackle Chris Clark (75) and guard Zane Beadles (68) and center Manny Ramirez (66) in the first quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
As we all know by now, the Denver Broncos have all sorts of weapons spread across their historically potent offense and, as long as Peyton Manning is under center, the team will continue its torrid pace.
However, what the common football fan fails to appreciate every Sunday is how good the Denver offensive line has been this season and how important the unit’s versatility has been to the team’s success on the field.
The five men up front have done their jobs better than any other unit in the league, protecting Manning — five sacks in 240 attempts — and propelling running back Knownshon Moreno’s career season
Most impressive, the unit sustained the season-ending injury to left tackle Ryan Clady, arguably the game’s best at the position, and took that loss in stride with no noticeable drop in performance level, thanks in large part to left tackle Chris Clark‘s development over the past four games.
Now, with right tackle Orlando Franklin sidelined for the next couple of weeks, the unit that has done so much already is being asked once again to withstand a crucial injury and play up to the wild expectations of being apart of the game’s best offense, ever.
Right guard Louis Vasquez will likely slide over to fill in Franklin’s slot Sunday, as he did last week against Jacksonville in the second, while Chris Kuper returns to the starting lineup after facing a bevy of injuries over the last two seasons. The team could also employ eight-year pro Winston Justice at right tackle; however, Justice doesn’t exactly have a great track record at the position.
That leaves the undervalued Manny Rameriz, who made the switch to center — a position he never played prior to 2013 — after the team lost Dan Koppen and J.D. Walton in the preseason, and left guard Zane Beadles as the lone remaining starters from training camp.
Despite all the mayhem going on up front, the Broncos keep chugging along on their way to a postseason berth and hopefully a lot more.
So, who deserves the credit for perfecting this revolving door of an offensive line?
Offensive coordinator Adam Gase? Manning? Former offensive line coach Alex Gibbs, who founded the zone block scheming that catapulted the Broncos to a pair of Super Bowl wins in the late 90s and returned to the team as consultant after stints in Atlanta and Houston?
How about third-year offensive live coach Dave Magazu? Since he’s had the job title, the Broncos have led the league in passing, led the league in rushing (with Tim Tebow in 2011), won the division twice and have captured the franchise’s longest regular season winning streak.
And now, he’s in charge of maintaining a unit that’s suffered five injuries in three months and ensures that it continues to be the best in the league.
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