ENGLEWOOD, Colo — It was just about one year and two weeks ago today when Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas voiced their displeasure in the fact that they weren’t getting the ball as much as they wanted.

Through two games in which the Broncos ran the ball very well, the lethal combination of Thomas and Sanders had only 17 catches and no touchdowns.

While adamant that they were happy with the 2-0 start, Sanders couldn’t help himself.

“We’re used to having 100-yard games,” he said in 2016. “We’re used to scoring touchdowns.”

This season, through four games, Sanders and Thomas have combined for 48 catches, 437 yards and two touchdowns—both going to Sanders. It’s a better pace, but following a game that saw the two only catch five balls for 38 yards, head coach Vance Joseph was asked if preaching patience to his stars on the outside is important.

“You have to,” he admitted. “Most teams can’t cover those guys one-on-one, most teams won’t do that, it wouldn’t be smart. They have to be patient, right now we are getting a bunch of shell coverage and a bunch of soft boxes, so our running game is really good.”

“When a team is forced to play single-high and it gives us fair coverage outside, those two guys will show up more, he added. “Right now, it’s basically bracket coverage. That’s where Derby has to make plays for us, Bennie Fowler has made some plays. When you see Bennie catching three or four balls, you see Derby catching seven balls, that’s where it has to affect the defense.”

On Sunday, Derby caught seven balls for 75 yards and a TD and Fowler caught two for 35. Yet, much like last season when the original complaints began, the team struggled in the red zone.

Are they frustrated again?

“Receivers? They’re always frustrated,” Joseph said with a smile. “They want to catch ten balls a game. I like that, especially from [Sanders]. I like his personality, he wants the ball every play, that’s cool. He should want the ball every play, he’s a competitive dude.”

Eventually, teams will have to commit to stopping the Broncos on the ground. At that point, DT and Emmanuel will get their’s. For now, they’ll have to continue being excited about their contributions as two of the best run-blocking receivers in the league.

Ryan Koenigsberg

In 2012, at the age of 20, Ryan became a credentialed reporter covering University of Colorado Athletics. . . despite wearing a wolf-tee to his interview.
A native of Boulder and a graduate of the university, he attended his 100th-consecutive Colorado Football home game in 2015.
Later in 2015, Ryan began spearheading the Broncos coverage here at BSN Denver, riding that wave all the way to San Francisco, where he covered his first Super Bowl.
Now 24, it seems ‘RK’ is trying to make up for that whole wolf-tee thing by overdressing at every event. He apologizes in advance for any cringe-worthy puns.

  • It might help if they caught all the balls that already came their way. Both Sanders and Thomas had some key drops in the first four games. That’s one thing that bugs me about prima dona wide outs. They act like the dropped balls don’t count and there are an infinite number of plays. They do count and pass attempts to star receivers who get the best coverage a defense has to offer aren’t going to see that many balls thrown their way. They need to catch every one of them. That’s a matter of concentration and mental toughness. You’re still going to get hit. You might as well catch the ball.