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Expect the Broncos' offense to change in these four ways next season

Ken Pomponio Avatar
March 26, 2016


A Super Bowl championship tends to cover up a number of warts, and there were plenty to be found on the Denver Broncos’ offense last season.

In case Broncos Country has repressed the ugly offensive details, the Orange & Blue finished 19th in the league in scoring (22.2 points per game), 16th in total yards (355.5), 28th in passing touchdowns (19), 17th in rushing yards (107.4 per contest) and 29th in turnovers (31).

Among other things, it was a very un-Gary Kubiak-like year for an offense ultimately led by Kubiak, who has built his NFL coaching reputation on fielding strong and efficient offensive attacks.

A number of factors had a hand here. It was Kubiak’s first season back in the Mile High City in a decade, an aging, ailing, and declining quarterback was running the show and the Broncos featured a reconfigured offensive line beset by injuries, inexperience and ineffectiveness.

No wonder the season was an offensive struggle that took one of the best defenses of the last 30 years or so to smooth over.

But, now, not even two months into the offseason, the Broncos already are projecting to have at least six new offensive starters – including (again) a reconfigured offensive line and a new QB – with likely more personnel changes on the way.

And with new players, it’s the ideal time for Kubiak to further impart and implement more of his offensive philosophies.

Some of this already is reflected in the team’s personnel moves so far, and upcoming additions – particularly in the draft – will provide even more insight as to how Kubiak and Co. plan to address last seasons’ weaknesses.

All that in mind, here are four stat-centric changes/new looks to expect from Kubiak’s Denver offense in Year Two:

  • More rushing: In the 2015 regular season, the Broncos only ran on 38.24 percent of their offensive plays – the 20th lowest percentage in the league. In Kubiak’s previous decade as a head coach or offensive coordinator, that figure would’ve ranked as the second lowest during that time frame as his teams feature at least a 41.11 run percentage. With an offensive line better suited for his scheme and a new QB at the helm – especially if it’s a younger one – expect more a ground-oriented attack this fall.
  • The emergence of a featured back: In 15 of the previous 20 Kubiak offenses – going back to his rookie offensive coordinator gig with the 1995 Broncos – his teams have featured a 1,000-yard rusher. In 11 of those seasons, the lead back has topped 1,200 yards. Denver obviously didn’t have that a season ago with Ronnie Hillman (207 carries for 863 yards) and C.J. Anderson (152-720) splitting the workload, but with both free agents this offseason, the Broncos matched the Dolphins’ four-year, $18-million free-agent offer for the latter and in doing so stated in no uncertain terms that it’s time for Anderson to emerge as a clear No. 1 full-season workhorse.
  • Increased tight-end involvement: For only the third time in the last 11 years, a Kubiak offense devoted less than 20 percent of its passing-game targets to tight ends as Owen Daniels, Virgil Green and Vernon Davis combined for 120 targets among the Broncos’ 603 this past season. Now, Daniels and Davis have since been released or not re-signed, but the Broncos have high hopes for 2015 third-round pick Jeff Heuerman, whose rookie season was scuttled by an off-season knee injury, and don’t be surprised if the Broncos add a tight end or two in the draft or later in free agency in order to help restore the position’s traditional hierarchy in the Kubiak attack.
  • Better overall efficiency: In a couple additional not-so-pretty 2015 Broncos offensive stats, the Orange & Blue ranked 18th in the league in yards per play (5.38) and 22nd in yards per passing attempt (7.0). And while it’s a reach to expect the Broncos to jump from 19th to the top-10 in scoring – where 15 of the previous 20 Kubiak offenses have ranked – with a new quarterback running the show, it is reasonable to expect the Broncos will be more a more efficient offensive team. Just reducing the 31 turnovers alone will go a long ways toward that end.


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