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Full disclosure, as a fan it might be hard to be objective here. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are supremely talented. When it comes to looking at the best WR duos in the league, you would be hard pressed to find a better pair. That being said, when you do a quick search of the best they don’t usually land at the top spot.
One talking head on the NFL Network even went so far as to say it was Odell Beckham, Jr, and Brandon Marshall. They have never played on the same team. How can they be the best? It defies logic, but it got me thinking, which I know can be dangerous.
Ranking the best duo is always hard, but this should be a no-brainer. Are either Sanders or Thomas the best receiver in the game? No. But if you add up their talent they should be at the top. What is holding them back?
One answer could come from the perception that Thomas struggles to catch the ball. During the 2016 season Thomas was targeted 144 times with 7 dropped passes. That is a 4.9 percent drop rate. According to Sporting Charts, Thomas caught 62.5% of passes attempts to him, which is in the same range as Julio Jones.
Thomas has a few issues with drops, but this can’t be what holds back the Broncos WR duo from being considered the best in the league. As Ian St. Clair and I discussed on the MHR Radio podcast, the other possibility is problems at the quarterback position. Even before Peyton Manning retired, there were problems with the passer, as he struggled at the end of his career.
Things did not get much better in 2016. Siemian had difficulties throughout the season. He struggled with progression, and had trouble reading the defense prior to the snap. This has to impact how effective the receivers can be in the offense. Lynch was limited in his brief action as well.
Thomas may not do his quarterback any favors, but there were numerous times that Siemian hung his receivers out for a defensive back to put a hit on. Alligator arms are a disease bred from fear. That fear comes from experience.
Imagine Aaron Rodgers having Thomas and Sanders to throw the ball to. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are good, but given the choice, DT and Sanders appear to be the better option. This discussion hinges on the talents of the quarterback. At this moment, the Broncos have two young options that struggle to utilize the weapons around them.
Whether the starter for the Broncos is Siemian or Lynch, they must improve to give Sanders and Thomas better opportunities. The offense can’t languish as it did in 2016. If Thomas and Sanders are successful, the Broncos are winning games, and that is all that matters.