We’ve looked at all 3 areas of the defense for the Denver Broncos, now it’s time to move to the offense. Peyton Manning is obviously the most important player on the offense which makes the offensive line the second most important part of the offense. It won’t matter how great Manning is if his line can’t give him time to throw.
The good news is I believe the offensive line, with Manning’s help, will be just fine.
The most important position on the line is left tackle and the Broncos are in great shape with, Ryan Clady. I know he is coming off his worst year as a pro in terms of sacks allowed and holding penalties, but I really believe a lot of that was due to Tim Tebow. This is not a shot at the former Bronco quarterback, just an observation. It’s really hard to block for any quarterback who holds the ball as long as Tebow does and even harder when he starts running all over the place. Most of Clady’s holding penalties came on plays where Tebow was scrambling and Clady got caught in no man’s land. Manning is a classic drop back quarterback who gets rid of the ball in a hurry which will help Clady return to his Pro Bowl form.
The right tackle is manned by 2nd year pro, Orlando Franklin who turned in a solid rookie season. There is some concern about Franklin’s pass blocking skills but he will be fine. He has all the tools to be a quality tackle for many years to come. There is some talk that the coaches might move Franklin inside if Chris Clark shows he can handle the tackle spot. The guess here is that Franklin will stay at tackle and Clark will provide some much needed depth.
The guards are set with Zane Beadles and Chris Kuper. Kuper is returning from an ugly leg injury that occurred in the regular season finale versus Kansas City, but is all ready practicing in training camp and should be ready to go on September 9th. Kuper is a pro, he may not be well known around the NFL but he’s one of the better guards in the NFL. Beadles is coming into his own as he enters his third season with the Broncos. He hasn’t missed a start and gets better every week. Kuper and Beadles, as a duo, are as solid as they come.
The question mark is at center in, JD Walton. Walton is probably in the bottom third of centers in the league and must improve. Denver did make a run in the off-season at Manning’s center in Indianapolis, Jeff Saturday but chose not to meet his salary demands. Now it is time for Walton to reward that vote of confidence by taking a giant step forward in 2012. The good news is that Walton has put in the work with Manning; the two have been working together since Manning signed in March. Walton could be pushed by rookie, Phillip Blake but as of now it appears that Blake is not ready.
Stop me if you have heard this before but the biggest positive for the offensive line this season is, Peyton Manning. While it was exciting to watch Tebow run around and make plays, it put a ton of pressure on the five guys up front. Pass blocking for Manning will be a lot easier because he gets rid of the ball on time, and throws it away if nothing is there. The offensive will no longer have to block for 9 seconds while Tebow pats the ball 15 times. The presence of Manning will also help with the run blocking because defenses will not be able to stack the line with 8 or 9 people. The signing of Manning is big for so many obvious reasons but as John Elway said, “He raises all boats.” He will certainly do that for the offensive line.