The Denver Broncos haven’t gotten the production their used to out of wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in 2017.
Most of that has to do with how opposing defenses are defending the Broncos (they have seen mostly shell and cover-4), but some of it can also be attributed to the run-pass balance of Denver’s offensive attack under Mike McCoy. Despite some frustrations from Thomas and Sanders, the Broncos aren’t going to take the route of trying to force the ball to their two Pro Bowl wide receivers, according to head coach Vance Joseph.
“We don’t want to force feed the ball to those guys [Sanders and Thomas]. Obviously going into our prep and our gameplan week, the pass-game goes through Thomas and Sanders,” Joseph said on Monday. “That’s not a secret at all. But, it depends on how defenses play us. Whatever they give us from a defensive prospective, we’re going to take advantage of. If they give us shell coverage and are taking those two guys away, we’re going to pound the football. Hopefully, we’ll force those guys to close the middle and play more cover three and cover one so we can get a fair matchup outside. If they play shell, we’re going to run the football. That’s our formula to score points right now.”
Since joining the Broncos in 2014, Sanders has posted three-straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons and caught 20 touchdown passes during that stretch. In 2017, Sanders has 20 receptions for 190 yards and 2 touchdowns through four games. That puts him on pace to finish the season with 80 catches for 760 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Likewise, Thomas, who has spent his entire career with the Broncos, has a current streak of five-straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons, dating back to 2012. Through four games, the two-time All-Pro wide receiver has 18 receptions for 247 yards and 0 touchdowns. That would put Thomas on pace to finish the season with 72 catches for 988 yards.
On the bright side, if the Broncos continue to run the ball well, they will likely continue to win games. And at some point, opposing defenses will have to tighten things up, which should free up Thomas, Sanders and the Denver passing attack.
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