Jan 12, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos tackle Ryan Clady (78) against the Baltimore Ravens during the AFC divisional round playoff game at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The talk all week has been the additions of the Denver Broncos.
Speculation has focused on how much of a difference Emmanuel Sanders, TJ Ward, Aqib Talib and DeMarcus Ware will have on the hopeful outcome against the Seattle Seahawks. You had to know that would dominate the talk with this football team given what unfolded in New Jersey. This group of guys make the best team in the AFC that much better. The chances the Broncos go back to the Super Bowl are even greater now because of their arrival.
But it buries the bigger story as we head into Sunday’s game in Seattle: The return of left tackle Ryan Clady, one of the best in the NFL.
It’s been said in the past that offensive linemen are like mushrooms. They’re kept in the dark and covered with manure. They get little to no attention, and that’s the way they like it. That’s the case in Denver and it’s been that way since Gary Zimmerman.
The return of Clady is too huge to brush off like mushrooms; especially this week.
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Given how well the offense has played, it’s easy to forget the Broncos played pretty much all last season without Clady.
That bears repeating: The best offense in the history of the NFL did it without its left tackle. That’s a credit to the players Denver used to at least attempt to limit his loss. For the most part they did.
Broncos Country had to know it would catch up with Peyton Manning and the offense at some point. It did in a huge way at the Super Bowl against Seattle.
The Broncos were thrown around and beat down offensively all game by the Seahawks defense. On that Sunday in February in New Jersey, any defense you put against the Denver offense would have done the same. The offensive line looked like Carmelo Anthony when he tries to play defense – bullfighters. The fact the Broncos got as far as they did without their anchor on the offensive line is a major win.
Clady is back. When people ask if the Denver offense can get even better, most scuff at the notion.
“It’s just not possible. You don’t put up numbers like that and match it.”
Sep 14, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib (21) returns a interception of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) as strong safety T.J. Ward (43) blocks on a play called back by a penalty late in the fourth quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Chiefs 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
They miss the fact that Clady is back. That’s how this offense will be better. Clady is one of the best left tackles in the game, if not the best. No longer is there any doubt the blindside of PFM is safe.
We’ve already seen that the first two games of the season. Manning hasn’t been touched or pressured at all.
Clady makes the other four guys on that line not just better, but a lot better. That’s how good he is. He allows the offense to open the playbook.
Think about that: The best offense in the history of the NFL can do and try more without hesitation with his return.
Offensive coordinator Adam Gase needs to use that imagination and creativity on Sunday. He needs to take advantage of Clady’s return and go for the knockout every chance he gets.
There’s no secret potion as to why Gase and Manning can do that.
That’s because of the return of Clady.
Let’s praise the additions of Sanders, Ward, Talib and Ware.
Let’s get amped over the return of the defensive starters Denver missed in the Super Bowl – Rahim Moore, Derek Wolfe, Chris Harris and Von Miller.
Let’s not forget about the return of Clady. The only way a change in the outcome comes Sunday is if Manning gets time and protection. If he doesn’t … let’s not go there.
Yes, Manning is the MVP of the offense and the Broncos. No one wants to see what would happen if Manning isn’t behind center.
But if the Broncos win on Sunday and cap this season with their third Lombardi Trophy, it will be because of Clady.
Oct 28, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos head coach John Fox congratulates tackle Ryan Clady (78) after the Broncos scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Sports Authority Field. The Broncos went on to win 34-14. Mandatory Credit: Byron Hetzler-USA TODAY Sports