Broncos Regular Season Awards

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MVP: RB C.J. Anderson (Mid-season winner: Peyton Manning)

Dec 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson (22) carries the football in the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve profiled it well enough. C.J. Anderson has been crucial to this team’s success late in the year. We all saw some promise out of this guy dating back to last year. But I’m not sure anyone could’ve predicted this kind of production from him. With injuries to both Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman, Anderson got his shot and never looked back.

Without the immergence of C.J. Anderson, the Broncos would look like more of what we saw in St. Louis in the Broncos’ week 11 loss. Anderson’s has a lot of qualities you look for in a number one running back. First and foremost, you notice his supreme vision. This coupled with his burst allow him to make the most out of any given running play. He knows where to go and can hit the hole right away. To have that skill, with this meddling offensive line, is crucial.

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To put in perspective just how much Anderson did in his little amount of starting time: he was Pro Football Focus’s third rated running back in the whole league. Keep in mind PFF’s grading system is cumulative, just like rushing yards are. Anderson finished behind only Le’Veon Bell, Marshawn Lynch and tied with Eddie Lacy.

C.J. became a security blanket for the Broncos with Manning’s struggles and the major pass protection issues. The Broncos shifted their identity to take some pressure off of these units and it worked. Denver went 6-1 when Anderson got 13 or more carries. On the year, Anderson finished with 4.7 yards per carry, 1,173 yards from scrimmage, 10 touchdowns, and zero fumbles. I think the Broncos found their number one running back.

Honorable Mention: QB Peyton Manning (Eric Studesville)

There’s no doubt about it, Peyton looked off parts of this year, mostly when the pass protection broke down in the second half of the year. But he’s still Peyton Manning. He finished the year with 4,727 yards, 39 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions (his most since his Indianapolis days).

In the first seven games of the year, Manning looked like he had always looked as a Bronco, collecting 2,134 yards, 22 touchdowns, and only three picks. But his hot streak ended with a trip to New England, as it frequently has. Manning went on a three-week stretch of throwing two picks, a streak which included losses on the road to the Patriots and the Rams.

Manning still graded out as a top-10 PFF quarterback, which is pretty impressive considering he had a six week stretch grading of 3.6 including five games in the negative.

I expect this bye week to do wonders for Peyton. He really looked like he needed to push the reset button, not only physically to heal from his thigh injury, but possibly mentally as well. Manning is still the general of this team and while Anderson has much to do with this team not falling apart, Manning is the engine that keeps everything moving.