Broncos plan to use Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders in the slot

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 1: Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 1: Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas /

The Denver Broncos are planning to use both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in the slot this season, according to head coach Vance Joseph…

The Denver Broncos are looking for any and every way to gain an edge on opposing defense, and one part of that strategy is to get their top two offensive playmakers — Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders — into favorable situations.

Mike McCoy is the mastermind behind the new offense in Denver, an offense that Thomas once thrived in. Part of McCoy’s new plan is to put his top two receivers in the slot quite a bit, which we learned from Vance Joseph after practice on Friday…

"“We’ve got a lot of guys that are competing for that third spot. Not just a slot position, but the third receiver because Mike’s vision is to have No. 10 [Emmanuel Sanders] in the slot and No. 88 [WR Demaryius Thomas] in the slot. He’s looking for the best guy to be the third receiver to play all three spots. Knowing all three spots, with Mike’s vision, it’s really important not just having a slot guy.”– Vance Joseph (quotes obtained via Broncos PR)"

It makes sense that the Broncos would want to put these two guys in the slot, for a number of reasons. First of all, moving Thomas and Sanders to the slot puts them in very favorable matchups, typically one-on-one situations. It also opens up other matchups for the Broncos on the outside.

Putting one or both of Thomas and Sanders in the slot will typically draw a team’s  top corners to the inside, so the Broncos would then have favorable matchups on the outside.

Another reason it makes sense to put Thomas and Sanders in the slot? They are probably the Broncos’ best route runners at this point.

One area that Carlos Henderson needs work is running routes, since his route tree at Louisiana Tech was very simplistic. Isaiah McKenzie obviously has a long way to go before getting on the level of Thomas and Sanders in that regard, and truth be told, so do some of the other receivers on the team.

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That’s why guys like Bennie Fowler are valuable to this team, because Fowler can play any of the receiver positions within this offense, whether outside or in the slot.

The Broncos are quickly discovering their strengths and weaknesses as a team, and one area of strength is gaining yards after the catch. This is another area where it makes sense to use Thomas and Sanders in the slot, because putting those guys in the slot offers even more opportunities for them to gain yards after the catch.

We all know how great Thomas is after the catch with his straight line speed and ability to run through guys with size, and Sanders brings that electrifying speed and quickness to the table, making guys miss in the open field.

Having these two in the slot more often allows for them to utilize their skill set in a shorter space, and perhaps help along the quarterbacks and make their initial reads a little bit easier.

The benefits of putting these players in the slot are obvious, and the Broncos are smart to start making plans to do it early on.