Oct 23, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) throws a pass as Denver Broncos center Manny Ramirez (66) and guard Orlando Franklin (74) provide protection during the first half against the at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Control the Line of Scrimmage
Much like their blowout victory over the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday, the Broncos again controlled the play at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
Denver struggled mightily with this in 2013 and it seemed to have continued into the new season.
This was obviously not to be and now the Broncos boast arguably the best offense and defense in part because of their dominance in the trenches.
The Chargers had an incredibly tough time getting to quarterback Peyton Manning. A healthy Ryan Clady protecting Manning’s blind side and steady improvement along the offensive line has made all of the difference in the world.
That difference is by far the most noticeable in the run game. The offense’s rushing attack has taken off and it doesn’t look to be landing anytime soon. The insertion of the forgotten son of Denver, a.k.a. Ronnie Hillman, has given the offense an enormous boost.
With the help of a line that should only get better, Hillman has now amassed over 400 yards of total offense since Week Five, which includes two 100-yard rushing performances and two touchdowns. One of those 100-yard showings just came versus San Diego.
Hillman commented on his solid outing and the men up front after the game.
"“If the line keeps blocking how we’re blocking and we play like we’re playing, nothing is impossible,” Hillman said. “That’s the plan, to carry it over every week to get better every week.”"
The offensive line, that now includes rookie Paul Cornick, has really made great strides in recent weeks. They look like they’re finally settling in as one unit in regards to their offseason makeover.
As good as the Broncos’ offensive line has been, their defensive front has been just as impressive, even more so.
Their pass rush is absolutely dynamite. Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware have wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks game in and game out. They’ve combined for 16 of the defense’s 23 sacks, second most in the NFL to the Buffalo Bills’ 24. The difference is the Broncos have already had their bye week.
If that’s scary then their run defense is terrifying.
Denver’s front seven only allowed 36 yards on 13 carries to Chargers’ running back Branden Oliver, who came in averaging nearly five yards a carry in his previous three games. 23 yards of his paltry total came on a garbage time draw-play.
If both the defensive front and offensive line can continue to dictate the pace of the game, the sky’s the limit for the Broncos.
Note: The play of Center Manny Ramirez has been a popular topic of conversation this season, but his recent progress has somewhat stymied those talks. Instead, it’s the right tackle spot headed by Paul Cornick that now poses the biggest question mark on this team, but we’ll save that little discussion for later.