One of the most underrated jobs in football is protecting the quarterback. Fans rarely see the skill and talent that is involved with the offensive line and how much work it actually entails. Fans only notice when they are not doing their job: when Peyton Manning gets sacked, or when a running back hits a wall of linemen, and fans never forget those plays.
With all the changes the Denver Broncos offensive line has had over the past half decade with offensive styles it is even more important that they can be comfortable and consistent. Hopefully this offseason will prepare them for just that.
This past Monday, left tackle Ryan Clady agreed to a 5-year contract with the Broncos. He tweeted “Blessed for the opportunity to play for the @DenverBroncos for the next 5 years! Thanks to everyone for the support throughout this process.”
His contract included a maximum $57.5 million with $33 million guaranteed. This is the top average salary in the league at the left tackle position according to spotrac.com. This not only shows the value that he has to the team but it also gives him comfort to really allow him to focus on the job he has to do.
Clady had started every regular season game with the Broncos. He only allowed one sack in 2012, which was the least in the NFL by starting tackles. He also set a record in 2009 by not allowing a single sack in 20 straight games.
Clady was absent at OTAs and mini camp as his contract was developing and he was also recovering from his shoulder injury that he had during the last regular season game with Kansas City. Once he gets back in the swing of things he will be a crucial part in making sure our offense works this season.
Zane Beadles and Manny Ramirez are also returning and proved to be an invaluable piece of the team last season.
This spot had some inconsistency last season when JD Walton got injured. Dan Koppen should be returning to his post as he made for a good replacement last season. He has the best winning percentage all-time in the NFL among all offensive lineman.
The addition of Louis Vasquez really fills a gap that the Broncos need. Last season there was inconsistency on the right side between Chris Kuper being injured and Manny Ramirez filling in.
Vasquez has to get use to not only the Denver altitude coming from San Diego but also the Denver Broncos organization. In his four-year career he knows the pass protection game and has only allowed 11 sacks and had one penalty during that time.
Orlando Franklin will also be there to protect that side as he showed great improvement last season. He has recovered from a few surgeries in the offseason including his shoulder, toe and improvement on his vision.
Essentially all the positions that we need to stay the same are doing just that, specifically the left side. While the changes that need to be made with Koppen officially being the starting center and the addition of Vasquez on the right should make for a strong defense that will make the jobs of Peyton Manning and the rest of the offense that much easier.