Redesign, Rebuild, Reclaim: the Denver Broncos Offensive Line
After putting an elderly QB at risk on every dropback last year, the Broncos flipped 3 spots on their offensive line and turned it into a strength in 2016.
The Denver Broncos offensive line was a mess last season. They were OK in pass protection, finishing 13th in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate (which was certainly aided by Manning’s penchant for getting the ball out quickly). However, the ground game was a real issue.
Save for runs off of the tackles (a staple of a Peyton Manning offense), the Broncos ranked in the bottom 3rd in adjusted line yards running in any other direction.
This year, the team has tweaked its strategy and fully adopted Gary Kubiak’s scheme, which means a ton of runs in between the tackles, where the Broncos rank in the top third of the league. Short yardage remains an issue as they have not improved much on their #23 ranking, converting 61% of their 3rd and 4th and shorts – good for 21st in the league.
However, they’re clearly improved as the tackles are dramatically better, and a surprisingly effective move to guard for their most maligned player helped the Broncos maintain continuity after losing PFF’s top rated run blocker at the position, Evan Mathis. Another seems to have made the jump from good to great, and the Broncos now boast at minimum, an above average line given that their best players operate at the offensive line’s two most important positions.