2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Broncos: Big man, big loss

Published: September 18, 2013, 10:24 am, by Paul Klee

What’s bigger than losing Von Miller for six games and Champ Bailey for the first two, at least?

Losing Ryan Clady for the season. That’s the scoop, according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post and Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com.

This is a significant development for the NFL’s most dangerous offense. But here’s why: the health of Peyton Manning is what matters. If No. 18 is upright, the Broncos can win the Super Bowl.

The loss of Clady is big not because the All-Pro left tackle is irreplaceable. It’s big because he protects Manning, and it could endanger the only irreplaceable guy on the roster.

Remember all of the concern over the offensive line in the preseason? J.D. Walton and Chris Kuper were injured. Clady was coming off shoulder surgery. The Broncos signed more centers than the Avalanche.

Here’s the result, through two games: Manning has been pressured on only 23.9 percent of his drop-backs, according to my trusty friends at Pro Football Focus. I’m no NFL scout, but I’m told that’s good enough for second-best in the NFL.

Is that because the Broncos boast an elite offensive line?

It’s a solid offensive line, clearly, but with this many moving pieces, it can’t be considered an elite one.

It’s because of Manning. And as long as he’s still standing, the Broncos are still a/the Super Bowl favorite.

“Stepping into a role like this, it’s not going to be hard for me to adjust,” said left tackle Chris Clark, pegged as Clady’s replacement.

He’s right, of course, because he knows who the quarterback is.

How can an offense lose its second-best player and remain a juggernaut?

That’s the power of Peyton.

Twitter: @Klee_Gazette