BroncosRants: Grades for Denver Broncos vs Oakland Raiders
Broncos welcome the Raiders
After losing the last four games at home to the Oakland Raiders, the Denver Broncos played their most complete game of the season to trounce the silver and black, 37-6. The offense, behind Peyton Manning and the bevy of receivers he utilized was in rythym all four quarters and looked every bit the explosive unit they were projected to become.
The defense, led by Elvis dumervil and Von Miller, consistently harassed Carson Palmer and forced him to make rash decisions and throw the ball away. The run defense was solid and stout in holding Darren McFadden to 13 carries and only 34yds while only catching one ball out of the backfield. Oakland punted seven times in this game and the most glaring statistic is that the Broncos did not punt once.
This was a perfectly planned and executed game plan by the Broncos coaching staff and players. They will need to continue to build on this explosiveness and defensive effort in order to go strong into Foxboro Stadium next week against the New England Patriots and Tom Brady. All of those that were continuing to doubt Manning also were shown that even though his arm strength is clearly not the same, he is more than capable of playing with anyone in the league.
The following slides represent the grades for every aspect of the Broncos game today, and yes, you will find an issue with Matt Prater's throw on a fake field goal called by Head Coach John Fox. I hope we do not see much of that the rest of the year. Denver heads on the road to New England next week in a matchup of Hall of Fame QBs. This was a perfect tune-up for what will be another tough test ahead.
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Should anyone question Peyton Manning anymore? The man came out and was on fire from the start to the finish in his most stellar performance as a Broncos. He found eight different receivers while completing a stat line that reads 30/38, 338yds, 3TDs, 0INTs and a QB rating of 130.0. Manning was able to complete passes to both sides of the field, moved in and out of the pocket well and had a bit more zip on the ball which was especially noticed when he tossed a TD to Joel Dreesen in the first quarter. He proved that he can still play with the best of them and receives an "A" for today's performance.
The Broncos run game today was consistent and powerful. Willis McGahee keeps proving that he is a versatile back that can put up over 100yds/game and catch out of the backfield. Ronnie Hillman also had 10 carries and a couple catches and showed that he belongs on the field ahead of both Lance Ball and Knowshon Moreno. This unit receives a B+ as a whole and looks as if it is getting stronger each week.
Receiver's on Track...B
You may think I am picking on the receiving unit just a little. I get the fact that the trio of Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Brandon Stokley caught 14 balls for over 200yds, but there was only Decker's TD that went on the board. Thomas almost became the goat when he tried to change hands on a breakout run and fumbled to give the Raiders the ball. These mistakes need to be limited and the duo of Salt and Pepper should be posting better numbers by now. But this is another unit that will mature with age. I will give them a "B" for the sole fact that improvements can still be made.
Dreesen and Tamme Big Lift...B+
Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreesen were such a force in the first half, that the Raider defense was accounting too much for them which opened the field for others to step in. Dreesen made a fine catch in the end zone from Manning to not only give the Broncos the lead, but their first TD in the 1stQ all season. The blocking was solid, Tamme had five catches for 38yds and if these two can keep making a difference, then the rest of the offense will benefit.
Plenty of Time for Manning...A
The only stat to look at is thise one: 0 hits and 0 sacks on Manning all game. Forget about a couple of false starts or anything else for that matter. They protected their leader and gave Manning all the time he needed to perform. This unit did take a hit losing J.D. Walton to an ankle injury, but I am sure veteran Dan Koppen will fill in just fine. And Chris Kuper will be back soon from injury. The offensive line deserves nothing but an "A".
Pass Rush Dominant...B+
The defensive line did a solid job in stopping the run and applying constant pressure on Palmer. Elvis Dumervil and Wesley Woodyard accounted for the only two sacks, but Palmer was hit eight times by five other defenders. Definitely a step in the right direction, but still not as powerful as they should be at this point. The defensive line gets a "B+".
Linebacker's Stuff The Rush...B+
With the absence of play-caller Joe Mays due to a one game suspension, no one knew what to expect from the linebackers today. Keith Brooking filled in nicely and Von Miller and Woodyard got to Palmer and they were able to stuff the run. I'd say it was a solid performance all around and give this unit a B+.
Secondary Steps Up...B+
Champ Bailey, Tracy Porter and Mike Adams did not allow a TD pass from Palmer and made plays when it counted. They allowed some yardage to Denarius Moore and Marcel Reece, but their version of bend but don't break was aided by the pass rush and a shaky performance by the Raiders QB. No goat on this unit..."B+".
Prater Should Stick to Kicking...A
There's one reason the special teams unit should receive an "A". Britton Colquitt did not have to punt once in this game. Add to that, but Jim Leonhard was solid in protecting the punt returns and Matt Prater was 3/3 in FGs and 4/4 in extra points. I can't hold it against Prater that John Fox wanted to attempt a fake field goal, but Prater should really stick to kicking. That throw was ugly.
Great Game Plan...A
John Fox, Jack Del Rio and Mike McCoy came out to prove a point today. They were not willing to allow the Raiders to come into Denver again and extend their winning streak to five games. The offense looked crisp, the defense was quick and relentless with their blitz packages, and other than the fake field goal attempt, Fox let the game just flow. Definitely an "A" in my book when you can script and execute a 37-6 victory.