The defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos entered the 2016 season with a new offensive line, tasked with stopping the likes of AFC West opposition Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Khalil Mack to name a few.
The Broncos line begins the 2016 season needing to be better and allow fewer sacks and much less pressure than last season, and will rely on new additions all across the line.
The Broncos pulled out an unexpected victory on opening night in Denver this week.
All of the plaudits have gone to the stingy defence from the corners, the heat off the edge from Von Miller and the solid play from rookie quarterback Trevor Siemian.
The thing that we all seem to be missing is the play of the patchwork offensive line.
An offensive line consisting of Russel Okung, Max Garcia, Matt Paradis, Micheal Schofield and Donald Stephenson of which only Paradis started for the Broncos last season.
The line had a straight forward job last year, maintain the pocket for Peyton and make inside lanes for Anderson and Hillman.
Now, enter Trevor Siemian, an athletic rookie quarterback who likes to run bootlegs, get out of the pocket and escape pressure.
Having to account for a quarterback that could break out and run at any time is tricky enough, but especially with a quarterback you’ve only played half a pre-season with, and a brand new line.
Pre-game, things looked bad on the offensive line for the Broncos.
But from the kick off, the Broncos line maintained their composure, giving their young quarterback room to work and break out should he need.
The line held strong against the likes of Charles Johnson, Kony Ealy, Thomas Davis Sr and Star Lotulelei allowing only two sacks on their rookie quarterback.
In the first game of his sophomore season at centre, Matt Paradis was a shining light.
According to Pro Football Focus, Matt Paradis graded out as the NFL’s best centre in week 1.
PFF labelled it “one of the most monstrous performances we have seen from a centre.”
“Paradis had a perfect game in pass protection for Denver against a tough Carolina front, and was also dominant in the run game.”
Paradis’ perfect blocking in the middle of the field allowed CJ Anderson to break loose to the tune of 20 carries, 92 yards and two touchdowns.
His strong blocking also sprung new cult hero, fullback Andy Janovich for his first pro carry touchdown run.
The young centre was not on his own in a brilliant display from the revamped line.
The left side in particular, made up of Russel Okung and Max Garcia, two very strong and physical linemen allowed little to no pressure from Kony Ealy, who dominated the Broncos line in the superbowl and held tackle machine Thomas Davis Sr at bay for much of the game.
Gary Kubiak’s zone blocking scheme along with the new athletic linemen he has brought in, may hold the key to success for the Broncos this season.
It may be too early to call but the Broncos may once again have a strong offensive line, and it all stems from the man in the middle, Matt Paradis.
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