Despite a sterling 3-0 record and the top spot on AFC West rankings, the Broncos have had many issues that teams with a winless record would have. The defensive performance has been nothing short of stellar up to this point, with special teams doing an exceptional job as well.
Ironically, it’s the offense that has had the biggest struggles for the Peyton Manning/Gary Kubiak led team. One of the many offensive roadblocks the Broncos face is igniting a stagnant running game that has suffered greatly due to the porous offensive line play.
Although the reshuffled offensive line was expected to have its struggles early in the season, I don’t think anybody would have predicted the instability that currently hovers like a black cloud over the Broncos offensive trenches.
A Gary Kubiak coached team has historically produced top 10 rushing offenses, regardless of the team’s W-L record. It was one thing to have an adjustment in offensive philosophy, but to not be able to successfully implement the “bread and butter” of your offense must be aggravating for Kubiak.
By all means, this isn’t an indictment or diss to any of the running backs. There’s plenty of talent in that running back stable (pun intended) to launch the running game into elite ranks. The zone blocking scheme that has become infamous with great Broncos teams has one trait that all of its lineman must share, exceptional knowledge of the offense and their assignments.
Size and strength are irrelevant on this offensive line if you are not aware of your assignments and be willing to hit the ground while making their blocks.
A perfect example of this is starting center, Matt Paradis. A 6th round pick in the 2014 draft, Paradis was seen as a developmental prospect with little upside due to his limited size and athleticism. Paradis made up for these deficiencies with great toughness and fluent knowledge of the offense.
These traits were able to vault him into the starting line up this season and based on his performance up to this point, I don’t think we’ll see him leaving the starting lineup anytime soon.
With Paradis being held as the benchmark for offensive line play, it should be assumed that every other lineman raise
Nov 3, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins tackle Tyler Polumbus (74) lines up against the San Diego Chargers at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sportstheir game and begin to gel as a unit by mastering this offensive scheme. Familiarity with an offense and being able to help other lineman better themselves in the offense is key for any experienced player to share with his teammates. Enter Tyler Polumbus.
The Broncos offensive line, full of young and inexperienced players, has a new teammate in Polumbus that will certainly provide the proper combination of experience and knowledge that this position group desperately needs.
After going undrafted in 2008, Polumbus spent his first two years in the NFL with the Broncos, heavily immersed in the zone blocking scheme.
In his inaugural two years in Denver, he played in 31 games with 8 starts. He then went on to spend the next five seasons playing for the Seahawks and Redskins. He was signed by the Atlanta Falcons this past off-season to compete for a starting job, but was released earlier this week.
With 57 career starts between both tackle positions, Polumbus appears to be a capable starter, let alone a backup, for any NFL offense. What really makes this signing stand out though is his experience in schemes that are similar to the current Broncos offense.
For his entire 8 year career, Polumbus has played on a line that has made zone blocking concepts its main priority. Many players have experience with a scheme by playing in it for a year or two, then moving on to a new team or a new scheme. Polumbus has had the pleasure of enjoying the same offensive philosophy for his entire NFL career.
After leaving Denver, Polumbus played under offenses coordinated by former Broncos offensive coordinator and Head Coach Jeremy Bates and Mike Shanahan, respectively. Although a coaching change after the 2013 season made some adjustments to the Redskins offensive line, many zone blocking philosophies were still implemented for the 2014 season.
His last stop before coming back to Denver was signing with the Falcons this past offseason with Mike Shanahan’s son Kyle running the offense.
With the Polumbus signing taking place early on Thursday, rumors quickly began to surface about Polumbus’ role on the offensive line. Even though his initial signing was to provide depth along the erratic offensive line, Polumbus could see the field in extensive action as soon as this Sunday against the Vikings.
With starting left tackle Ty Sambrailo nursing a shoulder injury he sustained last week in Detroit and Michael Schofield shaping up to be a complete bust, Polumbus looks to be in line for starting duty protecting Manning’s blindside. For many teams, this could be seen as a time to hit the panic button.
Fortunately for the Broncos, Polumbus’ experience and offensive knowledge gives them a reassuring option in the event that Sambrailo is unable to go this weekend.
I expect the offensive line to continue to gel by sheer trial and error as the season progresses, but make no mistake, the signing of Tyler Polumbus could provide the necessary physical and mental presence that this group needs to emerge as a top tier offensive line. Knowledge is power and in Polumbus, the Broncos gain a new weapon in the arsenal.