All of the talk on this Monday is about how great Peyton Manning looked in the Denver Broncos win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, and it should be. However there was an unsung group that has been questioned and criticized for the entire month of August. The offensive line for the Broncos was fantastic, there’s simply no other way to put it.
Manning was sacked twice in the first quarter but once the Broncos went to the no huddle in the second quarter, he was barely touched. The protection was great but it was more than that. The five guys up front, JD Walton, Manny Ramirez, Zane Beadles, Ryan Clady and Orlando Franklin were in sync with their quarterback all night. Every time Manning changed the play at the line of scrimmage, the offensive line made the right line calls and picked up every blitz. The Steelers bring defenders from every point on the field but after some early issues, every blitz was picked up. Manning and the offensive line worked as one on opening night, and that will only improve as the season progresses.
The running game struggled early but they started to open holes in the second half, and they started to gash the Steelers up the middle. One play in particular comes to mind when Manning rolled out to the right, and Franklin had a great block to spring him around the corner. The Broncos are not going to make a living with Manning running, but it was an example of how good and active the offensive line was.
There were many and there are still some who believe that the Broncos offensive line will be the down fall for this team, but in reality they are going to be strength. It’s also important to remember that the Broncos are playing without their best offensive lineman in Chris Kuper. He should return in a couple of weeks from a broken forearm and that will only strengthen the group.
The Denver Broncos will go as far as Manning takes them but the offensive line has to be a part of that. If Manning does not have time to throw or there are no holes to run through, then it doesn’t matter how great the quarterback is. It was only one game but the offensive line is starting to prove all of the doubters wrong.
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