The Broncos' Super Bowl chances just got better
The Eagles have had their names in the headlines plenty this offseason, but the move that jumps out as potentially hurting the team was the release of guard Evan Mathis.
Just how good is Mathis? Not only is he the best guard in football, but with a PFF rating of 92.9, only three players in the league rank higher – regardless of position.
Mathis will be a huge upgrade to a line that had plenty of question marks coming into 2014. Four of the Broncos’ five starters either found new homes this offseason or have already landed on injured reserve. Mathis will likely replace rookie Max Garcia at left guard in the starting lineup, who had a +0.1 PFF grade over two preseason games.
The move means the Broncos will challenge the Ravens for the best guard duo in the NFL, as Mathis will be paired with Louis Vasquez, who was the highest-graded right guard in the NFL in 2013. Vasquez dropped off some in 2014, in large part due to a midseason switch to right tackle, but he is now back at his more natural position.
Running back C.J. Anderson should be happy with this move. Last year Anderson averaged 2.7 yards before contact per carry when running to the right, and just 1.7 yards before contact per carry when running to the left. Mathis’ presence should allow Anderson to even those totals out a little bit more this season.
Mathis’ arrival will also help QB Peyton Manning. Mathis was the ninth-best guard in the NFL last season in pass protection, and is going from a team that gave its quarterback a lot of time to throw. Manning tends to get the ball out quickly — Denver had the lowest time to throw in the league last season – but the improved pass protection will certainly help him as he looks to recover from a decline in performance at the end of 2014.
With players like Manning, Demaryius Thomas and Von Miller already on the roster, the Broncos were already a Super Bowl contender. With the addition of Mathis, those chances have increased in a significant way.