Broncos: Player Grades from Win Over Panthers Offense

Sep 8, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson (22) runs the ball for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 8, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson (22) runs the ball for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers 21-20, and it was a great team win. Offensively, though, there were some issues on an individual level. How did the remaining offensive players grade out?

With the Denver Broncos win also comes the player grades. Offensively, the quarterback, running backs, receivers and tight ends remain. The offensive line has already been graded and can be seen here.

There was a lot to like with how the Broncos offense played, but they showed a lot that needs worked on, especially in the passing game. If they are not careful, the offense is going to get predictable and see more mistakes and turnovers than they saw in their first game.

For the quarterback, it was a poor game. He threw for 178 yards for the Broncos, with one touchdown and two interceptions. For Trevor Siemian’s first start, that isn’t the worst stat line possible. His issues, outside of the two interceptions, won’t show on the stat sheet though.

Ball placement, accuracy, zip, reads both pre- and post snap, forcing passes, being a statue, inconsistent awareness, inconsistent pocket sense and bad decisions continued to hold Siemian back. These were all issues that were easily noticeable in the preseason and remained into the regular season.

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His arm isn’t as strong as everyone makes it out to be. There are a few passes he put good zip on it, but that isn’t something that he has in him to do over and over. As for placement, far too often he placed the ball where the defender can make a play. Proper placement makes it so only your target can make the play.

Siemian at times showed excellent awareness and feel in the pocket to escape some pressure, but more often he didn’t show any of that and remained still causing him to get hit more than he should have. One of these plays led to an interception. He should have seen the pressure up the middle and moved or taken the sack, but tried to force it instead.

Forcing it also led to his other interception. Again there was pressure up the middle, which the running back should have picked up, and Siemian tried to make the throw. He was hit at the end of the throw, unable to follow through and was unable to put strength behind the pass. It was short and picked off.

Three other passing plays were nearly picked off after Siemian showed horrible decision-making and trying to force it. One of them was the defender being unable to catch the ball. All Siemian had to do there was lob it over for an easy touchdown. He tried to force a bullet in there, which caused the near pick.

On #2, the receiver had to become the defender and stuck his hand out just to knock the ball down. The pass was thrown directly to the defender who was part of a double coverage unit on the intended receiver. The third near pick was simply the defender not paying attention.

Siemian got lucky, which isn’t a bad thing. Had he not gotten lucky, Denver likely loses this game and he throws five interceptions instead of just two. There were many other issues with his game, but time has run out. Siemian received a 39.7 grade for the game. He flashed potential and fans everywhere should excited be see what he does against the Indianapolis Colts in week 2.

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Three running backs saw the field, but only one will get graded. Devontae Booker saw only six snaps, and on his first carry fumbled the ball. Kapri Bibbs only saw two snaps. Both of whom are under the ten snap minimum requirement.

Only C.J. Anderson, the Broncos starting running back, gets a grade, and it will be a good one. Anderson was excellent, and owes a lot to the blocking upfront, especially off of the right side. On 20 carries, the running back ran for 92 yards and one touchdown. Most of those yards came off of the right side.

Anderson wasn’t limited to contributing on the ground. He saw five targets and caught four of them for 42 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown came on a screen play where Anderson was patient, followed his blocks, made a defender or two miss and broke away. Being responsible for 2/3s of the teams touchdowns is a great way to prove you were worth the contract you got.

There were very few mistakes Anderson made, and most were just vision issues of missing space for a few more yards than he got. Even still, his performance earned him a 92.9 grade.

While Booker had his first carry end in a fumble, rookie fullback had his first carry end in a touchdown. Andy Janovich showed an excellent ability to use a combination of his limited speed and shiftiness along with power to score his touchdown.

Not only that, having a fullback really helped Anderson pick up yards on the ground. The Panthers have linebacker Thomas Davis who excels in defending the run and Janovich basically took him out of the play time and time again. Janovich earned every bit of his 95.7 grade. He is also the prime example of how a bad preseason doesn’t mean a bad regular season.

Every receiver who saw the field got enough snaps to be graded, and they all played really well. Thomas caught four of his six targeted passes for 48 yards. One of those in-completions came on a play where he had to become the defender. He didn’t score a touchdown, but still played a good game and made tough catches.

Bad news for the Broncos is Thomas suffered a hip injury during the game and got an MRI on Friday. This week Thomas will be getting a second opinion. With Bennie Fowler still recovering from injury, this could hurt the receiving corps some. Thomas earned a 87.5 grade.

If Thomas does miss time, it opens up room for Cody Latimer and Jordan “Sunshine” Taylor to make some plays. Between the two of them they saw a total of 30 snaps, but no targets. They were mainly used as blockers in the run game and looked really good. They earned grades of 81.9 and 80.7 respectively.

Slot receiver Jordan Norwood had little impact on the game in any phases. He didn’t see the ball thrown his way, despite running some good routes and creating some separation. Norwood was lowest graded receiver, and lowest graded offensive weapon for the Broncos with a 72.9.

Wednesday, just before the game on Thursday, the Broncos agreed to an extension with Emmanuel Sanders. This made some fans think he was going to have a huge game and really show his value. That wasn’t the case, but this was still a really good game.

Sanders did what Sanders does and made some big tough catches and took some licks in doing so. He ended the game with five catches on eight targets for 49 yards. His routes were great, but he really caught some attention with fierce blocking in the run game. His 85.9 grade is well deserved.

Finally the tight ends for the Broncos. Only Virgil Green will get a grade as John Phillips only played six snaps. Green was a safety valve for Siemian and made some catches when called upon. Once he made the catch, Green looked to pick up more yards and make the player even bigger. His final stat line was four catches on five targets for 28 yards and a grade of 90.1. Greens blocking really made his grade, more than what he did as a receiver.

Next: Broncos Offensive Line Grades

That wraps up the grades for the offense. All that remains are the grades for the defense. First up will be the defensive line, followed by the linebackers and secondary. Keep an eye out for those.