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Broncos' running game may remain idle for one more week

Zac Stevens Avatar
November 12, 2016


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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Coming off of the worst performance of the season running the ball, the number one priority for the Denver Broncos’ offense must be to establish a running game early and often, right?

While that makes the most sense on the surface, this week, against the worst passing defense in the NFL, the running game may have to stay idle, once again but this time it would intentional.

“We’re playing a brand of football that is throw, throw, throw,” Gary Kubiak said earlier in the week. “Hell, it’s not even fair to them, but we’ve got to find a way to run the football somehow some way to help our football team and obviously the last two weeks it has been pretty nonexistent. It’s been tough.”

Over the last two games, against San Diego and Oakland, the Broncos rushed for 90 yards. . . total. In Week 9 alone, 13 teams ran for over 90 yards, and yet in Week 10, against the New Orleans Saints, the running game may not give the Broncos offense the best chance to succeed.

The Saints, who have the third-worst scoring defense allowing 29.8 points per game, have a stark difference in how well they defend the run and the pass. Their greatest weakness is defending the passing game, where they allow a league-low 300 passing yards per game, and they are about middle of the pack defending the run, giving up 108.5 yards per game.

“Passing the ball, I think we have a lot of answers to what they do,” running back Kapri Bibbs said. “They play a little man a little zone, I think we are ready for that.”

While it is more than possible to run the ball against the Saints, the first half of the season would show that it is much easier to throw the ball. Right now, according to Kubiak, this offense just needs to find a spark. Although Kubiak has stressed balance for the success of the offense, he has put even more of an emphasis on moving the ball.

“The key to being balanced in football is staying on the field. Getting first downs and staying on the football field,” he said. “Balance, to me, comes through ball movement, and we need to find it.”

Even though the lack of a running game is not sustainable for an entire season, it is possible to succeed short term. While the Broncos 12 rushes for 33 yards last week was not enough to beat the Raiders, that exact same stat line was enough for the Seattle Seahawks one day later.

On Monday night the Seattle Seahawks not only beat the Buffalo Bills but also put up 31 points in the process, while having the same rushing line as the Broncos. The difference between the two teams was the efficiency of the passing game.

Russell Wilson, Seattle’s quarterback, had a 76.9 completion percentage while Trevor Siemian only threw for 48.6 percent. The Broncos don’t need to throw the ball 50+ times; they just need to be efficient in their opportunities. Bibbs pointed to the short passing game as an opportunity that could significantly help the offense.

“Passing the ball is definitely something that we are good at, we have some of the best wide receivers in the NFL,” he said. “If you throw [a short pass] out to [Demaryius Thomas], Emmanuel [Sanders], Bennie Fowler, or any of those guys they know how to make people miss. Those short passes can definitely go a long way.”

Additionally, after the Saints game, the Broncos have their bye week where they can dedicate more time to address the core problems running the ball.

Even though the offense desperately needs the running game, the revival may have to wait until after a trip to New Orleans.

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