The strength of the 2011 Broncs passing attack was the deep ball, and the Broncos two returning receivers, Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas, reflect that. Both stand over 6’3″ and 215 pounds, and have excellent body control for their considerable size. This skill set, combined with the fact that on short passes Tebow had all of the accuracy of a drunk guy aiming for a urinal, led to the Broncos sending both receivers on routes over 16 yards downfield at least a third of the time (Decker: 36%, Thomas: 33%, per Football Outsiders Almanac 2012). This stretched the defense, opening rushing lanes for Willis McGahee to have his best season since Hannah Montana was 15 and not making every effort to become this generation’s Courtney Love.
Obviously, with the transition from Tebow to Peyton Manning the offense needed to adapt, but it is undeniable that his two primary receivers are deep threats. The problem with this is Peyton’s arm is seriously weaker than it was 2010. Through week 2, Peyton can not put the zip on intermediate and deep routes needed to avoid the safeties from flying over and making a play, more resembling Chad Pennington’s noodle arm then the Manning we grew to know and love in the 2000s. Demaryius Thomas has not seen a dip in his production, as his supreme athleticism means he can catch short routes and make defenders miss. Eric Decker is not that kind of athlete and has been a non-factor on offense. The fact that Brandon Stokley is more prominently involved than Decker in the passing game can only be described as troubling.
This leads us to the big match up with the Texans on Sunday. The Texans have two great safeties in Danieal Manning and Glover Quinn, meaning the deep ball should again be a non-factor. This spells trouble for the Broncos as McGahee will have enough trouble as is against Houston’s devastating front seven, and with the safeties creeping up in the box he would find more space to run in a coffin then he will on Sunday. I expect a low scoring defensive showdown, with the talent of Ben Tate, Arian Foster and the Texans offensive line leading to a slim victory.
DEN 13 HOU 20
About the Author
Written by Brandon Keller