Nov 16, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (99) sacks Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams won 22-7. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
John Fox is the eternal optimist.
The Denver Broncos head coach can spin what everyone else sees as a negative or detriment into not only a positive but an advantageous benefit.
Look no further than the Broncos offensive line.
To everyone not wearing orange and blue goggles, it’s putrid – and that’s an insult to putrid.
Not for the eternal optimist.
“I’d remind everybody, we’re like the No. 2 offense in the National Football League,” Fox told the media this week. “We lead the league – we’re No. 1 in (fewest) sacks allowed. I think sometimes we lose sight of kind of where we are. We’re 7-3. That’s the O-line that’s 7-3 as well as the rest of the team.”
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Fox also said people base what they see from the games only.
Here’s a rebuttal to the Broncos coach:
Denver is 7-3 despite the offensive line.
And if those guys practice so well, why can’t they carry it over to the games? It means absolutely nothing to be a great practice player, or unit, if you’re terrible when it matters most.
Coaches often say you win championships with how you practice but that’s impossible if you’re incapable of doing your job when it matters most.
That’s like someone saying they should get a record deal because they can sing great in the shower. But when they get up on stage they make cats howling in the alley sound like Whitney Houston.
If they do practice so well yet are so awful on game day, what exactly are they doing in practice? Do the coaches know what to look for? What to work on?
Nov 16, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) calls a play at the line against the St. Louis Rams during the first half at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Keep in mind these are the same people who said all offseason the Broncos have to become balanced on offense. That means they couldn’t rely as much on the passing game and Peyton Manning as they did last season.
Forget balance because short of a miracle this team cannot and will not run the football at a consistent clip.
The problem is now this unit can’t even pass block. Denver’s offensive line may give up the fewest sacks in the NFL but that’s more because of Manning than those five guys up front.
“This is where stats lie,” former Broncos guard and current ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth told a Denver Post columnist. “That’s all Peyton Manning, 100 percent, getting rid of the football. They have to be more talented with schemes and getting guys open, because at this point, they can’t block their way out of a wet paper sack.”
"“It’s worse than bad — it’s horrendous. I watch every game of every team every week. It’s bad technique-wise, athleticism-wise, toughness-wise. If I was grading, giving an F would be kind. “I know I’m going to get a bunch of texts and calls for this, but I’m sick. I just broke down three (Denver) game films and it’s sickening.“The Broncos won’t beat anybody come playoff time, nobody, unless we’re healthy at the receiver position, running circles around people, and No. 18 is just shredding people. If there’s a we-have-to-run-it situation, if there’s a third-and-2, we might as well punt, because we’re going to get shoved in the backfield.”"
Talk about two polar opposites.
On one end you have a guy who says, “No problem. Nothing to see here. It’s just an illusion. What you really think is awful is actually really good.” While the other says, “This is so bad there’s no hope at all. Just cash it in, man.”
In my mind, after what I’ve seen this season, I agree with the guy who knows what it takes to play on a great offensive line. Who knows how to get it done at a Super Bowl level. There’s no doubt Schlereth’s rant has a touch of hyperbole to it but he’s right.
What have the coaches and front office personnel been watching since April? Someone didn’t just snap their fingers and, poof, the Broncos offensive line became terrible. This is the same unit that couldn’t run block last year either.
The difference is now defenses know how to play this offense. Jam the receivers, drop seven defenders into coverage because the good pass-rushing teams can pressure Manning with four guys.
The consequence of the putrid line is now Manning has no confidence in his offensive line do its job, he gets happy feet and makes bad decisions.
The next two games are crucial to Denver. It struggled against a decent defense with no real pass rush. Now it faces two teams that have far better pass rushers.
By all accounts, this is the most the Broncos have worked on the offensive line since Mike Shanahan was the coach. Wouldn’t put much into that given we were already told they, apparently, practice great.
Time is running out to get this problem solved for Denver.
Oh, that’s right. It’s not a problem. It’s all an illusion.
Nov 16, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) calls a play against the St. Louis Rams during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams won 22-7. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports