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O-Line Paves Road to Record-Setting Season

Posted Jan 15, 2014

After a season in which they allowed a league-low 20 sacks, the Broncos offensive line was ranked as the top offensive line unit in the NFL by Pro Football Focus.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A Broncos offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks in the league has been ranked by Pro Football Focus as the top offensive line unit in the NFL for the 2013 season.

The Broncos allowed just 20 sacks during the regular season and recorded a league-high six games without giving up a sack, with the offensive line paving the way for a unit that scored an NFL-record 606 points and racked up 7,317 yards of total offense. That group accomplished nearly all of it without three-time Pro Bowl tackle Ryan Clady, who was sidelined after suffering a season-ending foot injury in Week 2.

PFF underlined the offensive line’s successes in the article, writing:

“When Ryan Clady went down who saw this coming? Well Chris Clark filled in ably while the duo of Vasquez and Manny Ramirez delivered the goods in the run game. A real cohesive unit and while they benefit from the pocket presence of their quarterback, it’s a two-way street with both elements helping each other out.”

In Sunday’s Divisional Round playoff win against the Chargers, the line was particularly efficient, as PFF noted that the 8.3 percent pressure rating on quarterback Peyton Manning was the lowest that Manning has faced in a game since 2009. San Diego did not sack Manning and recorded just one quarterback hit.

“All in all tonight, I think we played well up front on both sides of the ball,” Head Coach John Fox said after the game.

“It was a good job by the guys up front,” Manning added.

PFF was particularly complimentary of the play of guard Louis Vasquez, who was named a first-team AP All-Pro and earned his first Pro Bowl selection this season. Vasquez, who was one of just three 16-game starting guards to allow zero sacks in 2013 – and who played all 1,207 offensive snaps, the only Bronco on the offensive or defensive side of the ball to play every possible snap – earned a 33.6 rating for the season from the site.

Vasquez hasn’t allowed a sack since Week 13 of the 2012 season – over 13 months ago. His consecutive games streak is the longest among guards in the NFL.

Vasquez’s array of accomplishments came in his first year with the Broncos – he signed with Denver as a free agent during the offseason – although he noted that being around familiar players like his college teammate Manny Ramirez helped ease the transition.

“It’s been unbelievably awesome,” Vasquez said. “I’ve been blessed to come into a great team and also to see familiar faces—Center Manny Ramirez and guys like that. It’s been excellent.”

Ramirez and guard Zane Beadles were named Pro Bowl alternates this year. Ramirez allowed just one sack in his first season at the center position, tying for third among 16-game starting centers. Beadles’ 1.5 sacks allowed were fifth fewest among 16-game starting guards. Beadles was also the only starting guard who did not have a holding penalty accepted against him all season.

Tackle Orlando Franklin also ranked near the top of his position league-wide in limiting quarterback pressures. According to PFF, Franklin allowed just 24 pressures all season – the third-lowest total among all offensive.

“Every single week we have worked to get better and better than the week before,” Beadles said regarding the offensive line. “There have probably been some games in there that we didn’t take as big of a step forward as we may have wanted to from week to week. But, it has just been an ongoing process throughout the whole season.”

All five starting offensive linemen finished in the top five of their respective positions in Pro Bowl fan voting this year. Beadles led all NFL guards, finishing with 239,610 votes; Vasquez finished fifth with 183,182. Ramirez was second in voting among centers with 240,218. Tackle Chris Clark and Franklin ranked fourth and fifth, garnering 181,791 and 170,299 votes respectively.

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