Jul 31, 2011; San Diego, CA, USA; General view of a San Diego Chargers helmet at training camp at San Diego Chargers training camp at Chargers Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

The Broncos and Chargers: Review of Offenses by Position


Here is a position-by-position comparison between the Chargers and Broncos (excluding QB) offenses.  This evaluation looks at the primary contributors and free agents presently known to be contracted with the teams:

Running Backs

SD: Ryan Mathews, Le’Ron McClain

DEN: Willis McGahee, Lance Ball

Denver has a seasoned pro in McGahee, who has 8 years of experience and 2 Pro Bowl appearances, and had the best season of his career in 2011, averaging 4.8 yards per carry.  Beyond McGahee however, the players at this position are relatively inexperienced and average in terms of production.  One also has to wonder if McGahee will be able to maintain a high production level when Denver hits Ctrl, Alt, Delete and the option offense is uninstalled.

San Diego likewise has a veteran presence (5th year) in newly acquired Le’Ron McClain, who has made 2 Pro Bowl appearances and has also been named to 2 All-Pro teams.  McClain is coupled with Ryan Mathews, who averaged 4.9 yards per carry and made his first Pro Bowl appearance in last season.  This backfield is young, productive, and decorated.

Denver had a phenomenal streak in 2011 using the option attack, however question marks remain about whether McGahee can be highly productive in a return to the traditional NFL-offense.  He is also nearly 31, so age may become a factor as well.

Slight Advantage, Chargers.

Wide Receivers

SD: Robert Meachem, Malcom Floyd, Eddie Royal, Vincent Brown

DEN: Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, D’Andre Goodwin, ?

Denver has one of the youngest wide receiving corps in the NFL, with both #1 and #2 WRs having just about 2 years of NFL experience.  Demaryius Thomas has a lot of potential and has averaged +15ypc, but has yet to play a full season due to injuries.  Eric Decker has been a very reliable target in Denver though, and has averaged +14ypc.  Both players are young and have the potential to develop into high quality WRs.  Beyond these two players, Denver has D’Andre Goodwin, who has no NFL experience but averaged 12ypc in his senior season of college football.  Denver is expected to NEEDS to make a play for a top-tier receiver through free agency and get help at the position through the draft.

San Diego on the other hand is extremely deep at the WR position, with all players except Vincent Brown having at least 3 seasons of experience.  The projected #1 WR is Robert Meachem, who averaged over 16ypc in New Orleans despite being a 3rd/4th option in that offense.  He was drafted very high in the 2007 draft and it could be argued that he did not live up to expectations in New Orleans.  Malcom Floyd has 7 years of experience, caught Rivers’ first TD pass, and averages an eye-popping 17.9ypc.  After that are Vincent Brown, who averaged 17ypc in his rookie season in limited playing time, and Eddie Royal, a former Bronco, who is reliable as a receiver (+10ypc) as well as in the return game.

All in all, Denver has a young and potentially excellent group of recievers, but until they prove themselves, the Chargers’ WR squad remain atop the AFC West.

For the moment, Moderate Advantage, Chargers.

Tight Ends

There is no comparison here.  Denver needs help at this position.  Currently there are only two tight ends on the books, combining for 4 career receptions for 29 yards.  One of the ends, Virgil Green, was considered a top prospect in the 2011 draft and may have a break-out season this year with Manning under helm.

The San Diego Chargers have Antonio Gates, who has appeared in 8 Pro Bowls, has been named to 5 All-Pro Teams, and the 2000’s All-Decade Team.  He also averages 13.0 ypc.  The other ends, Dante Rosario and Randy McMichael, both have had more pedestrian careers, but average over 10ypc.

Big Advantage, Chargers.

Offensive Line

The Denver offensive line was very good last season in run-blocking, succeeding often at getting runners into the secondary and into open space.  They did however struggle in pass protection, allowing sacks on over 9% off pass plays.  This figure could be slightly skewed in part due to the run-happy mentality of QB Tim Tebow.  This line will need to prove it can protect the QB as well as it can run-block, because Manning is a high-dollar, high-risk investment, and the Broncos can’t afford to let him take a lot of hits.

The Chargers offensive line allowed sacks on only 5% of pass plays, while getting similar production in the run game as Denver.  Rivers was constantly in peril though.  This group persevered through a number of injuries and setbacks, but came together strong at the end of the season.  The Chargers will be without two 2011-season starters, Marcus McNiell, and Kris Dielman, however they did lock up Jared Gaither to a long-term deal to replace McNiell, and Tyronne Green has been serviceable at the position.  There are holes at guard and right tackle, where Jeromey Clary has been consistently disappointing.

Slight Advantage: Broncos.  This is a case where the statistics may be deceiving; look for the sack percentages to go down with Peyton Manning at QB.   There are still many questions about the Chargers’ O-line that still need to be addressed before the start of the season.  Typically in the NFL the best lines are the ones that have continuity.  Right now there is continuity in Denver, and massive flux in San Diego.

Summary:

The Chargers offense is in better shape to win now than the Denver Broncos, despite losing Vincent Jackson.  Denver may have added Peyton Manning, but it may take some time for the team to come together and there is not much depth or experience at key positions.  Denver definitely has the younger team, which may or may not be an advantage as the season progresses.

Adding a veteran wide-out and a stud tight end would improve Denver’s outlook considerably.  I will provide a more complete offensive analysis before Week 1 when the 53-man rosters are finalized.  For the moment, the Chargers have a slight advantage over the Broncos thanks to experience at key positions, and the addition of new talent to the team to compensate for the losses of Jackson and Mike Tolbert through free agency.

I will say that regardless of what changes occur between now and week 1, the Broncos will start off as an average opponent while they learn to work together offensively.  By the end of the season however, expect the Broncos to be one of the tougher teams to earn a W against when their offense is in full stride and the young players have some experience under their belts.

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  • chargerjroc

    @chargersbuzztap donkeys need G, TE, WR badly. Manning can’t win with their pieces. There D needs Safety, LB but really good.

  • Bleu

    Yes them d dudes in denver have some issues with that secondary…….. If our oline holds up rite then everyone in the afc its going to be in the dust. We do have a nice amount of talent on our roster lets just c what we do in the draft………….. PR17 if a competitor and this is going to motivate him and make him play with a chip on his shoulder……….

  • LeonardoVelazquez

    Hmmm… I think you forgot to compare quarterbacks.  Haha.  And defense, where they are the clear winner.
    Also, their offensive line is much better than the Chargers’, they were incredible on the run, and Tebow had 10 seconds to throw, it was when Tebow took 15 seconds that they sacked him.  But yeah, if Rivers gets a little more time than he did last year, the Chargers will be okay, regardless of the defense.  

    • jjsmith

       This was an comparisons of offenses, not defenses.  That will come in a subsequent article, and I agree that at present Denver does have a superior defense.

      • jjsmith

        And quarterbacks will get their own section too. :)  Not forgotten!

  • olaoberg

    Well, Knowshon Moreno is pretty good and also forgotten here.

    • jjsmith

       @olaoberg not exactly forgotten, and yes pretty good – averaged 4.8 ypc until he was injured mid season…I only looked at the teams as they currently stand – and Moreno is not listed anywhere on the depth charts, he is on IR.  Also he was involved in an incident off the field (DUI) and I was uncertain of his playing status at the time this article was written.  When he is reinstated to the active roster I will update the comparison accordingly – and I would say that I would still favor (very slightly) the chargers – because compared to McGahee, McClain has more in the tank, and I would consider Mathews and Moreno roughly equivalent…

      • olaoberg

         @jjsmith Ah, I try to read as much as I can but it aint the biggest sport in Sweden so I kinda stick more to Chargers news specific. Thought his injury should be fine by next season.
         
        Enjoyed the read. Thanks

        • jjsmith

           @olaoberg Glad you enjoyed the read – he should be back by next season, but the Broncos have been very quiet about his progress and until we hear from them that he is ready to go it would be unwise to make that assumption…I’m waiting until any possible trade involving Tebow is executed or put to rest to analyze the QB situation.  It would be interesting to see if the Broncos can try to persuade Tebow to take on a more run-oriented role, playing RB with Manning at QB. That would be very interesting and tough to defend, because you have the obvious running threat but also the dual-passing attack, so if Peyton pitches to Tebow you can’t overplay the run, otherwise Tebow may lob it over your head for a touchdown pass.  I don’t know if Tebow would be interested in taking on that hybrid-RB type role, but it would certainly make for a nightmare for opposing defenses.

        • olaoberg

           @jjsmith Guessing they want more weapons for Peyton, therefore trade him. Prob depends on the payment