SD-DEN Grades: Jackson, defense force Rivers’ lowest grade

The top takeaways and highest graded players from Denver’s 27-20 win over San Diego.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

SD-DEN Grades: Jackson, defense force Rivers’ lowest grade

Here are the top takeaways and highest graded players from Denver’s 27-20 win over San Diego.

Denver Broncos

– When the Broncos made the switch back to QB Peyton Manning (+0.3) in the second half of this one, there was a noticeable change in the Denver attack. Gone were the long dropbacks, muddy pockets, and slower-developing outside zone runs, and in their place were the quick-hit throws and inside zone runs from the shotgun, along with a more urgent—and confident—overall pace. In short, the Broncos looked more like the Broncos again and it worked. Manning didn’t hit on any deep shots or game-breaking throws, but his presence was felt.

– The Denver front, as expected, abused the San Diego O-line, and did so with even more regularity than many would have guessed. As a group, they racked up three sacks, three hits and 33 hurries—a huge chunk of which came by way of bullrush, as they simply powered through the patchwork Charger group. Derek Wolfe (+4.6), Malik Jackson (+5.5), and Von Miller (+3.0) collected the sacks and formed three-fourths of a defensive quartet (along with DeMarcus Ware) that each notched at least seven total pressures.

– Despite being on the hook for a couple hits and a hurry surrendered in pass protection, center Matt Paradis (+5.1) came away with his highest game grade of the season, and his third straight solid score on the back of some fine work as a run blocker. Winning his one-on-one’s at the line and having success chasing down San Diego linebacker Manti Te’o in the second level as well, Paradis is on a roll heading into the playoffs.

Top performers:

DE Malik Jackson (+5.5)
C Matt Paradis (+5.1)
DE Derek Wolfe (+4.6)
G Evan Mathis (+4.5)
G Max Garcia (+3.3)


San Diego Chargers

– Rough outing for quarterback Philip Rivers (-7.0), who managed 12 forced and/or off-target throws and picked up the majority of his completions under the Denver coverage. The approach was understandable, as he was pressured on 26 of his 39 dropbacks, and was often found just getting the ball out before trouble arrived. He did take advantage of a wide-open post on a coverage bust for the long TD to Tyrell Williams, and old friend Antonio Gates secured a jump ball at the goal line for another score, but the big picture for Rivers on the day was not a positive one.

– Cornerback Stephen Williams (-1.1) filled up the stat sheet with a sack, a pair of forced fumbles (one recovered) and an interception, but got himself into enough trouble outside of those high points that his overall grade suffered. Williams gave up six catches on the eight targets he saw (five for first downs), was saved by deep overthrows on the other two balls, and he missed four tackles. Mitigating factors worked to limit his grade on some of the highlight plays – the sack was unblocked, the interception was on a tipped ball, and the first forced fumble came after he was beaten for a long gain.

– Running back Donald Brown (+1.9) and rookie receiver Tyrell Williams (-0.7) had notable efforts on the offensive side for San Diego. Brown churned his way to his second green-graded (above +1.0) day in the past three weeks, forcing a pair of missed tackles and picking up 55 of his 81 yards after contact, while Williams had some more severe ups and downs. Targeted only once before this week, Williams saw five balls against the Broncos, and two of them turned out to be especially important to the game’s story. Early in the fourth quarter, Williams was gifted an 80-yard score by CB Aqib Talib’s mistake on the deep route and then, with five minutes left in a tie game, the rookie couldn’t bring in an overthrown ball, watching as it went through his hands and into the waiting grasp of Denver’s safety for an interception.

Top performers:

OLB Melvin Ingram (+3.1)
HB Donald Brown (+1.9)
TE Antonio Gates (+1.3)
LB Denzel Perryman (+0.5)
WR Javontee Herndon (+0.5)

  • Matthew Allen

    How does Rivers get a -7.0 for throwing underneath when he was pressured on 26 of his 39 drop backs? I understand throwing underneath opposed to attacking downfield hurts your grade, but if it’s, get sacked or throw underneath, which it was for most of the game, I would think his score, is not indicative of his performance but a product of the efficiency of Denvers defense and therefore, Rivers should be graded not on what wasn’t available, but graded on what was, the underneath passes.

    • ElwayIsGod7

      Because PR is the biggest cry-baby in the league.

      • Matthew Allen

        Oh, ok.

    • fccnj

      agree…horrific rating as Rivers played okay given guys off the street (literally) at WR and on the O-line. He missed some easy one so Woodhead, but other than that he did as well as he could. PFF needs to calibrate for facts on the ground. This is a catastrophic error on their end.

      • Moralltach

        “Played ok given the circumstances” is exactly the point of an objective grading system. Rivers had a shitty day BECAUSE the Broncos’ D is so good. The rating isn’t to say that he’s a bad quarterback—I can’t think of many that could do better with the dreck that he’s surrounded with—it’s to point out that when quarterbacks face the Broncos, their performance suffers.

        • Matthew Allen

          I feel like they don’t look at what other options the QB had. Did Rivers connect on a lot of underneath routes? Yes, he did, but should his grade suffer if he either didn’t have time to push the ball down field, or the receivers downfield were covered? I mean if he’s missing wide open guys and just checking the ball down then his rating should suffer, but if he’s throwing to the only open targets, regardless of where they are on the field, that shouldn’t count against him.

          • Moralltach

            I see what you mean, in that it’s not his fault if his receivers couldn’t get open or his O-line collapsed, but again I think that’s kind of the point. A low PFF rating isn’t necessarily the QB’s fault, it just means that he had a bad day, and Rivers inarguably did. The rating isn’t to determine, game-to-game, if Rivers is a talented QB. It’s to illustrate how effective he was on one Sunday afternoon. And an incompletion, whether it’s a missed throw or really good coverage, makes him less effective.

            Sure, maybe he could have done WORSE if not for his football intelligence and experience. Maybe he could have taken more sacks, hit fewer checkdowns, thrown some stupid deep picks, and then his number would be even lower. His talent is what put his number where it is. But his opponent and teammates rendered his skills mostly useless, so he had a bad grade.

        • BlueBoltFan

          It’s objective, but it’s also arbitrary. It’s sort of like grading a test based on the fact that most students get 45 – 60 minutes to take said test. If one student has mitigating circumstances that only allow him 20 minutes to take the test, the argument could be made that it’s unfair to grade him by the same standard as the students that had more time. Rather, he should be graded on those questions he had time to answer. Some teachers will allow for this. Others won’t. Valid arguments could probably be made for either. Regardless it’s arbitrary, not simply objective. So the issues with the patchwork O-line and WR corps form an outlier that skews how accurate and revelatory the grading in this instance. I would only add that including (or weighting more heavily) how complimentary units perform in evaluating grades would probably give a more accurate representation of how someone actually played. The challenge, of course, becomes avoiding the rabbit hole of endless mitigation.

      • Chris

        This is the fundamental flaw in the PFF scoring system, they grade results unadjusted for facts on the ground. People can hate Rivers, but he does more with less than any other QB in the league… despite being surrounded by a host of UDFA/Practice Squad quality players along the OL and at WR due to substantial injuries, he still finished 2nd in the NFL in passing yards, a 93.8 QBR, and better than a 2:1 TD/Int ratio and still he’s consistently being scored negatively by PFF. It’s comical, but it is what it is.

        PFF does a good job of assessing play close to the LOS, but the further away it gets from the LOS the more outside variables can influence plays and PFF just doesn’t adjust for those things which lead to some pretty comical ratings.

    • Malachi

      12 off target throws

  • ElwayIsGod7

    Hey San Diego…

    • hawkeye27

      Very mature response. Your mother would be impressed.

      • Sincerly rude Brad

        Well San Digeo is a disgrace to the NFL so the response is justifiable

        • Sincerly rude Brad


  • Thomas Bell

    Bradley Roby appeared to have one of his finest games as a Bronco. I can recall at least three really nice pass break ups as well as a crucial helmet jarring third down tackle.

    • Malachi

      he’s really stepping his game up right now, 21 yards allowed on 8 targets.