’06 Offensive Line Review by Archimedes Owl

June 7, 2007

I was very impressed by a recent post on the Broncomania Forum and have asked the author of this fantastic article if I can re-post it here on my blog. I haven’t heard anyone in the mainstream media break down our 2006 O-line production or efficiency relating to Matt Lepsis’ injury like this and I thoroughly respect all the research necessary to put this together.

Line Break

Well, in the two years prior to last year, we ranked third in the league in fewest sacks allowed both years. This ranking was very good. Last year, for the year, we ranked 13th in the league in fewest sacks allowed in the league.One huge factor in this ranking is the fact that Matt Lepsis went down with injury in the Cleveland game, but there was generally discontinuity in the line last year. Still, before the Cleveland game when we lost Lepsis, we were on track to allow 22.4 sacks (According to sacks per game projections) or 24.8 sacks (According to sacks per attempt projections). The difference was also in large part because we passed more in the second half of the year and that we were forced to pass more later on to keep up with better offensive teams. We would have ranked 4th or sixth if we had continued our production at those levels throughout the year.

The point is clear, losing lepsis hurt our pass blocking tremendously, but that’s not all. What’s even more surprising is what losing him meant to our run blocking on the left side of the line.

Denver averaged 2.64 yards per carry around the left end last year. This was good enough to rank us 30th in the league around left end. Between left tackle and left guard, Denver averaged 4.04 yards per carry to rank 25th. Both rankings were pretty substandard. This was a huge difference from last year when we ranked 2nd in the league around the left end when we averaged 5.28 yards per carry around the left end. We ranked 15th between the left tackle and guard with an average of 4.39 yards per carry.

In 2004, we ranked first around the left end with an average of 5.44 yards per carry. We ranked much lower between the tackle and left guard, however with an average of 3.89 yards per attempt to rank 25th.

What this tells us is that Lepsis was dearly missed in the run game. Particularly around the left end, he was missed quite a bit.

The good news is that we’ll have him back and last year was an eye opener for the Broncos who realized that drafting a tackle in the third round who would be able to hold the fort and hopefully take over when Lepsis retired was imperative.

But, that’s not the only change to our line. The last couple of years, we’ve seen Foster playing right tackle for us, but he didn’t for a good portion of last year and we’ll see somebody else on that right side this year. We shouldn’t expect a dropoff. That much is clear because last year we ranked 24th around the right end with an average of 3.46 yards per carry. We also lost Cooper Carlisle as our right guard. Surprisingly, we did decently well between the right guard and the right tackle with a ranking of 7th and an average of 4.46 yards per carry. The year before we ranked 11th in the league with an average of 4.45 yards per carry. In other words, Carlisle played a lot better for us than I think that people sometimes give him credit for. We ranked 10th, 1st and 6th running behind the center over the last three years which shows that Nalen is still competing at a very high level, but that the guards have performed pretty well for us.

Still, Denver has shown that they have a terrific ability to get good play out of their guards even if they drafted them late. And Denver should not miss a beat with whoever ends up winning the job at right guard.

I also think that the numbers suggest that Hamilton was not clearly superior to Carlisle. The right end was significantly lower than the left end, but the right guard was not worse than the left guard in run blocking statistics. So, there is some risk in trying to replace Carlisle, but we should see no dropoff around right end.

Our run blocking should be immensely improved around the left end because Lepsis will be back and we should be much better at pass blocking for the same reason.

Of course, we also have a new back in Travis Henry who should be able to push the pile a lot more capably than Tatum Bell was able to. And I think that adding Graham as a dual threat pass catching and run blocking tight end will also help, but the return of Lepsis will help more than anything else.

I wouldn’t expect a huge dropoff with the loss of Carlisle and a change at right tackle shouldn’t hurt us, but we’ll just have to wait and see if we’ll see any improvement.

Still, I think that we’ll be able to return to an elite run game next year as we were the two years prior.

POSTED: 06-01-2007, 04:56 AM — Broncomania Forum

by Archimedes Owl — LINK





  1. Good stuff.

    let’s hope Lepsis comes back 100%.

  2. Food for thought not all runs up between ORG and ORT are controlled only by those two players, you have to add in the FB if any and one or more of the other OL that may be out there sealing back the other defensive folks, this is where the OTG and center are felt but not always seen.

  3. I personally think Nalen made Carlisles stats look better than they really are, and he won’t be missed. I’ve not been thrilled with either of the guys starting on the right side for a long time, so the replacements of (probably) Kuper and Pears are a welcome change for me. It’s a measure of our confidence in Foster that we took Pears from relieving his horrid play to filling for Lepsis on the left (rather than the more experienced Foster). There’s a lot of pressure on Harris to excel quickly, because Lepsis isn’t getting younger, but I think our right side will perform very well this year and we’ll be able to run right almost as effectively as we run left (and if the numbers to the right were better last year, they still weren’t great, and strictly average prior to that).

  4. You have a great point. There are a HUGE number of things that go into our running game and I don’t think you could ever get all of them into a reasonable equation that would accurately predict an outcome (to the things you mentioned I’d add things like type of field, weather, etc).

    I think the thing that shocked me about Archimedes’ research was the right side rushing did not vary much over the full season even though personnel changed over that year. While on the left side, the before-Matt-was-injured numbers compared with after-Matt-was-injured averages were major.

    I just find this comforting since Matt will be back this year — thanks to our man Greek! đŸ™‚

  5. very sharp analysis !!

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