Emmanuel Sanders has taken Denver’s passing offense up a notch

Good Afternoon, Broncos fans! Seven games don't quite make a season, but how about Emmanuel Sanders' 2014 campaign?

Denver's free agent bargain is now tied for fifth in the league in catches, is eighth in yards, and has just one touchdown fewer than he did in his first three seasons.

His season totals are already the second best of his career, and he needs only another 20 catches, 106 yards, and two scores to match his 2013 figures.

His PFF drop rate of 2.08% is seventh best in the league, after we were all told (by spurned Steelers fans) last offseason that drops were Emmanuel's Achilles' heel.

Of course, those Steelers fans have selective memories, as Sanders' 6.94% drop rate last year was good for 18th best among 43 qualifying receivers in 2013.

He's obviously improved over last year, but Emmanuel was far more reliable than he'd been portrayed.

Eric Decker, the player he replaced in Denver, wasn't quite as drop-prone as some of us might have thought either, as he ranked 25th in 2013, two spots better than Demaryius Thomas.

However, as Kenneth Arthur explains, Sanders has posted a far better catch rate (78.3%) this season than Decker did in 2013 (64.4%).

Per PFF's data, this is because 80% of Peyton Manning's throws to Sanders are catchable (48 of 60), while only 70.4% of his targets to Decker were catchable last year.

A few (speculative) possible explanations:

  • Emmanuel's superior athleticism helps get him open more often than Decker's did
  • Sanders is better with the lunchpail and studies harder than Decker (don't tell PFT Commenter)
  • Adam Gase does a better job of getting Sanders open
  • Manning just clicks better with Sanders than he did with Decker
  • Peyton's throwing ability is continuing to improve as he gets farther away from his last neck surgery, even if he's also a year older

It may be all of those reasons, or it may be none.

Whatever the reason, Sanders is now on pace for the second most catches in a single season by any Bronco, as is Demaryius Thomas (who also has 47 catches). Rod Smith's 113 catches in 2001 is the franchise record.

Emmanuel's 1,449-yard pace would barely top Brandon Lloyd's #2 mark of 1,448 yards, but Demaryius is on pace (1,753) to break Smith's record (1,602).

At this point, our biggest question is when Sanders will ask John Elway to tear up his three-year deal. Elway did establish a strong precedent this past offseason though, by not redoing Terrance Knighton's own bargain two-year deal.

But that's a concern for future offseasons.

For now, let's all just enjoy watching Manning, Sanders, and the Thomases do their thing.

Broncos News

NFLN's Sound FX chronicles Peyton Manning's recordbreaking touchdown passes numbers 509 and 510.

Brandon Marshall received a well deserved game ball for his efforts on Thursday night.

Denver's run defense is currently ranked tops in the league.

John Fox downplayed the scoreboard micro-controversy; KSK's Spilly presents a handbook for proper scoreboard operation.

Before joining the Broncos, Sanders apparently priced himself out of a chance to sign with New England.

Broncos Analysis

Robert Mays says Denver's defensive talent and depth may be the best in the league, and have helped the Broncos emerge as the overall frontrunner.

Ben Hochman isn't quite ready to trust Ronnie Hillman; safe to say he's not alone in that regard.

Mike Klis discusses the added speed in Denver's offense from Sanders and Hillman.

Andrew Mason doubts Denver can find an upgrade at right tackle via the trade market.

Albert Breer celebrates the remarkable job by Elway in building this year's squad.

Chargers

It took until Friday afternoon for the Chargers to diagnose Jahleel Addae's concussion; Kevin Acee says this underscores how far the league has to go with treating head injuries.

San Diego's shortsighted decision to dress Jason Verrett (shoulder) on Thursday night looks like it will bite them, as their starting corner may miss significant time.

News

A U.S. District Judge temporarily blocked sports gambling in New Jersey by granting a restraining order to the NFL, NCAA, and other sports leagues.

Oakland is expected to place LaMarr Woodley and Usama Young on IR and may activate corner D.J. Hayden.

MMQB suspended writer Robert Klemko for having punched a cabbie and stolen his car, but before they did so, Peter King took a page right of the NFL's disastrous PR playbook.

Analysis

John Clayton previews Sunday's games; Mike TanierDon Banks, and Bill Simmons make their picks.

Greg Cosell studies tape of the Dallas running game; Andrew Garda says it's a bit early to crown the Cowboys.

Ben Roethlisberger is well on his way to surpassing John Elway's and Brett Favre's career sack numbers for the all-time record in a few years.

Let's all hope Greg Gabriel is accurate in omitting Adam Gase and Jack Del Rio from his list of top potential head coaching candidates for next offseason.

Lindsay Gibbs lauds the NFL's decision to include NFL stars in its campaign against domestic violence.

Even PFT Commenter thinks Darren Rovell is a dick.

Maths

Demaryius and Sanders rank 2nd and 6th, respectively, in Chase Stuart's Adjusted Catch Yards per Attempt metric.

Bill Barnwell pores over the caponomics of the league's starting quarterbacks.

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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