Sep 14, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) takes a snap from center Manny Ramirez (66) in the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Before this season started, I raised a question about an aspect I felt would keep the Denver Broncos from winning the Super Bowl.
After three games, the question is still there but it’s ringing even louder in my ears.
Is Manny Ramirez the answer at center for this offense and team?
Before we get to the answer, let’s look back.
In the Super Bowl years of the 1990s, Denver had arguably the best center in football in Tom Nalen. He was the leader of that unit, and you need that from your center. Regardless of how good the guard play is, if the center is the weakest link on your line, it’s a huge problem. With Nalen, there was never a question. There never was doubt.
More from Broncos News
- Denver Broncos dream coaching staff for DeMeco Ryans
- Denver Broncos: “Sleeper” David Shaw checks every box
- The Broncos’ coaching search likely has not gone to plan
- Special Chiefs Suck Offer: Bet $5, Win $150 if Joe Burrow Passes for ONE YARD vs KC
- 3 reasons Sean Payton should not coach the Broncos
In training camp, Ramirez said his Super Bowl blunder was “water under the bridge.” Given how he snaps, shouldn’t it be water over the bridge?
The current Broncos center also said he wouldn’t let that play (you know the play) haunt him.
No doubt Ramirez had a phenomenal 2013 season in a position he hadn’t played for 12 years. Injuries forced Denver’s hand in that regard. And Ramirez did a great job of taking that role on the offensive line.
The problem is in the biggest moment of the season for Denver, in the first play from scrimmage, he crumbled under the pressure like a potato chip he munches on.
Through the first three games of the 2014 season, Ramirez has been by far the worst player on an offensive line that plays and looks as if it has never run blocked before. In Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks, Ramirez graded at a -3.0. Honestly, I don’t know how he scored that high.
Sep 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos guard Louis Vasquez (65) and center Manny Ramirez (66) during the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
At this point, Ramirez has shown he can’t be trusted to do what the Broncos need from this position. He’s the weak link in this unit and it’s apparent to just about everyone.
Coach John Fox and the Broncos cannot trust Ramirez to make it right this season. He’s shown he can’t do it.
How many chances should he get to show he can do the job at the level Peyton Manning and the offense need him to?
If OK or adequate is what Fox and the Broncos want from their center, Ramirez is their guy. But at this point in the season, Ramirez hasn’t even done that. He’s been terrible.
If he gets it figured out, he will deliver big doses of “OK” and “adequate” all season long. That’s a big “if” at this point.
Earlier this week, Fox said the offensive line is under scrutiny, as it should be. He listed two players who might get a chance to play: Michael Schofield and Ben Garland, whom Fox brought up without being asked. There was no mention of veteran Will Montgomery. If the Broncos want to see improved play along the offensive line, when they come back from the bye, Montgomery needs to be the center. He can’t do any worse than Ramirez.
Full disclosure: I have never liked Ramirez. I think he’s slow – both physically and mentally. When there is a penalty on the offensive line, Ramirez is usually the culprit. He led the offensive line with 11 flags last season (one was declined). That means holding or false start penalties, proving what I just said about being slow.
Ramirez demonstrated he’s a liability when the team needs him to step up. This season, he couldn’t block a 3-year-old from getting to his fridge, let alone 300-pound defensive tackles going after his quarterback.
It’s easier to shine as a player when no one expects it from you. What makes great players great is when it’s expected and they still deliver. When the pressure is on, they use it as a motivator to get better. It is clear Ramirez hasn’t and can’t.
The Seahawks gave teams the blueprint to beat Ramirez in the Super Bowl, though it doesn’t take much. And they did it again on Sunday, when they tossed him around like a rag doll. Hence the -3.0 grade from PFF.
When you look at all of the changes John Elway made to his roster because of the Super Bowl debacle, one constant is still there and he’s still failing in miserable fashion: Ramirez. At least this time he didn’t snap the ball out of the stadium on the first play from scrimmage.
Denver has no room for error.
Do the Broncos really want to hang the anchor of the offensive line on Ramirez? He’s a guy who has shown, yet again, he cannot do the job.
This is a “what have you done for me lately” league. The play of Ramirez has a stench to it like severe garlic breath. I can’t imagine the Broncos want to be reminded of that stench over and over and over as the season wears on. Or worse, Manning takes a hit from a guy Ramirez couldn’t block.
But that stench will linger because that’s how Fox rolls. He develops a bizarre attachment to players and it clouds his judgment.
The fascination and experiment with Ramirez needs to end before it’s too late.
Aug 23, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) talks with center Manny Ramirez (66) in the first quarter against the Houston Texans at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Texans defeated the Broncos 18-17. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports