SD-DEN grades: Broncos’ cornerbacks step up in Aqib Talib’s absence

Highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Broncos' Week 8 win over the Chargers.

| 1 month ago
CB Bradley Roby

(Mark Reis/Colorado Springs Gazette/TNS via Getty Images)

SD-DEN grades: Broncos’ cornerbacks step up in Aqib Talib’s absence


Denver Broncos 27, San Diego Chargers 19

Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from the Denver Broncos’ 29-19 win over the Chargers.

San Diego Chargers

Rivers struggled against Denver pass rush

Quarterback grade: Philip Rivers, 45.2

Charges QB Philip Rivers finished with his lowest-graded game of 2016, recording a season-worst 5.7 yards per attempt and throwing three interceptions. Rivers was pressured on more than half of his dropbacks, and finished just 8-of-24 for 92 yards and two interceptions (25.0 QB rating) on those snaps. At least one of Rivers’ interceptions was caused by a miscommunication with his receiver, but his accuracy was subpar throughout the game, especially under pressure.

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Top offensive grades:

C Matt Slauson, 81.6

RG D.J. Fluker, 77.0

HB Melvin Gordon, 75.9

LG Orlando Franklin, 75.0

WR Dontrelle Inman, 72.3

Melvin Gordon plays well in loss

San Diego HB Melvin Gordon looks like a different player after last year’s disappointing rookie campaign, and the former Badger currently ranks third among all NFL running backs in our overall 2016 grading. Gordon finished with 111 rushing yards on 23 attempts, forced seven missed tackles, and added 44 receiving yards on four catches. RG D.J. Fluker and C Matt Slauson were able to consistently create running lanes for Gordon, earning run-blocking grades of 82.0 and 81.0, respectively. RT Joe Barksdale had a disastrous game, finishing with a 32.6 overall grade after earning a team-worst run-blocking grade, allowing a sack, two hits, and two hurries in pass protection, and was flagged for four penalties. 

Top defensive grades:

ED Joey Bosa, 86.5

ED Melvin Ingram, 85.0

CB Casey Hayward, 83.1

S Adrian Phillips, 80.7

DT Brandon Mebane, 79.0

Bosa and Ingram continue to generate pressure

The Chargers’ edge-rushing duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram will be a tough matchup for any offense going forward. They combined for eight of the team’s 10 hurries, and were responsible for four of the team’s six QB hits. Bosa held his own against the run, as well, as he earned an 87.1 run-defense grade. Through four games played, Joey Bosa already has seven QB hits and 15 hurries to go along with his 10 stops in the run game. Ingram, on the other hand, has generated 28 hurries and four sacks through eight games; the pair will be a formidable force going forward if both can stay healthy. In the secondary, Casey Hayward stood out, recording a pass breakup and an interception returned for a touchdown, albeit on a deflected pass by WR Jordan Norwood. Hayward was thrown at nine times, giving up five receptions for 80 yards, with 40 of those yards coming by way of a great catch by Demaryius Thomas, where Hayward was running stride-for-stride with Thomas along the sideline.

Denver Broncos

Quarterback grade: Trevor Siemian, 53.7

Siemian perseveres through inaccurate day

The typically-accurate Trevor Siemian missed a few throws throughout the game, and had to overcome a deflected pass resulting in an interception for a touchdown. He was under a fair bit of pressure early, as San Diego’s dynamic edge rushers got their shots on him. Of his 38 dropbacks, he was under pressure 13 times, and only completed 41 percent of those passes. Surprisingly, he was more accurate when blitzed, as he completed 9 of 12 passes for 151 yards, averaging 12.6 yards per attempt; by comparison, he was 11 of 25 and averaged 5.0 yards per attempt when not blitzed. Siemian took his share of deep shots in Gary Kubiak’s staple play-action offense, completing three of five passes for 108 yards on throws that traveled 20 yards or more.

Top offensive grades:

WR Demaryius Thomas, 81.4

C Max Paradis, 79.8

G Max Garcia, 77.6

WR Emmanuel Sanders, 76

G Michael Schofield, 70.2

Rushing attack staggers without C.J. Anderson 

The Broncos’ rushing attack couldn’t seem to get in a rhythm, as the absence of C.J Anderson looked to play a part. As a team, they rushed 25 times, averaging 2.2 yards per carry; Devontae Booker ran it 19 times, averaging less than 3 yards per carry. 47 of Booker’s 54 yards came after contact, which goes to show that lanes were closing quickly. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders both made spectacular downfield catches, and combined for 148 yards on nine catches, as they were targeted a total of 18 times. Tackles Donald Stephenson and Russell Okung had a tough time against Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, as both of their pass-protection grades hovered below 50.0. Center Max Paradis has been an anchor on the Broncos’ line and continued with another solid performance today, as earned a 75.7 pass-blocking grade and 73.3 in run-blocking grade.

Top defensive grades:

LB Todd Davis, 86.7

CB Lorenzo Doss, 86.4

OLB DeMarcus Ware, 84.6

CB Bradley Roby, 83.9

DE Derek Wolfe, 82.9 

Broncos’ cornerbacks step up in Talib’s absence

Denver CB Aqib Talib is PFF’s highest-graded cornerback through Week 8, but Denver’s pass defense didn’t miss a beat without him. Bradley Roby replaced Talib in the starting lineup, and Rivers targeted him nine times. Roby allowed just a pair of catches for 34 yards (3.8 yards per catch) and added a pass defense and an interception that he returned for a Denver touchdown. Lorenzo Doss was the third corner, and earned an 86.3 coverage grade after allowing two catches for 29 yards on seven targets, adding a pair of pass defenses. OLBs Von Miller (one sack, two hits, three hurries) and DeMarcus Ware (one hit, four hurries), and DE Derek Wolfe (two hits, three hurries) were the standouts among Denver’s pass-rush, keeping Rivers uncomfortable in the pocket for all four quarters.

PFF Game-Ball Winners: Broncos CBs Bradley Roby and Lorenzo Doss

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

  • Nelson Cobb

    Chargers got a 1st and goal from the 2 late in the game, down 8, one of the leagues best RB’s right now punching it in from that close, and they threw it 4 straight times for 4 straight incompletions. That’s horrible coaching right there!!

    • Nelson Cobb

      Also, where the hell has Hunter Henry gone??? You get Gates back, so you basically make Hunter Henry, who balled out for the 4 weeks without Gates, an afterthought?? Great coaching, just great!!

      • C.Steele

        Well said! Cosigning on all that!

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      not even the threat of a run as phillip was in the shotgun all 4 plays too

      • Nelson Cobb

        I’m starting to think those might have been Phillip Rivers calls.