January 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) catches a pass against the New England Patriots in the first half of the 2013 AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
What does it mean to have a true number one wide receiver?
By any definition I can think of, Demaryius Thomas would fit the bill. He’s big, fast, strong, sure-handed, and he’s been consistently dominant for a multiple year period.
So what did Emmanuel Sanders mean when he said this in an interview with SiriusXM radio?
"“The thing that I like about the Broncos is there is really no No. 1 guy,” he said."
Don’t freak on Sanders just yet, Broncos fans. Here’s a little bit of context. Sanders is talking here about how he feels like being in Denver is wide receiver heaven. That having Peyton Manning as the quarterback, you could be the ‘#1’ wide receiver on any given week based on what matchups Manning is able to take advantage of. Look at a variety of examples from the season. I’m sure there were games when Demaryius dominated, as well as games where Julius Thomas had the lion’s share of catches, and Eric Decker, and Wes Welker, and so on.
So what else did Sanders say?
"“The thing that I like about the Broncos is there is really no No. 1 guy,” he said. “Peyton always goes with the favorable matchup and that’s what I’m really liking about this offense. Any guy could go off for 180 yards or 100 yards with 10 catches any week, week in and week out, just based off of matchups.”"
Certainly, Sanders isn’t wrong. He’s probably done enough film study that he has a good grasp on what his role could be with the Broncos, and he sees an expanded one compared to his previous job with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
And just to clarify here, Sanders is not trying to downplay the role of Demaryius Thomas in the Broncos’ offense. In fact, he’s more right than not. Peyton Manning throughout last season spread the ball around to the Broncos’ top three wide receivers a near identical amount, which was almost freaky heading into the final four games of the season where injuries started to play a role.
Surely, there will be no shortage of passes to go around this year, and Sanders will be one to benefit from that.