For the first three seasons the Denver Broncos had Peyton Manning as their starting quarterback, they were one of the best passing teams in the league, and the future Hall of Famer broke a few NFL records along the way. Last season, the Broncos relied more on their running game and their defense and won Super Bowl 50. With Manning retiring after the Super Bowl win, the Broncos are likely going to continue being a run oriented team. Even without Manning, Denver still has one of the best NFL odds of winning the Super Bowl.
Some of the reasons the Broncos became more run oriented last season are: the fact that head coach Gary Kubiak has always preached ball control and running the ball. Peyton Manning dealing with injuries that limited his arm strength also played a role in the team choosing to run the ball more last season.
However, the Broncos have different reasons for wanting to run the ball this year. One of those reasons is the fact that both Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler aren’t on the team anymore. Manning retired and Osweiler decided to sign with Houston during the offseason. The loss of Osweiler forced the Broncos to try and trade for Colin Kaepernick, but both sides couldn’t agree on a contract. The Broncos settled for Mark Sanchez as their starter and drafted Paxton Lynch as a potential quarterback of the future.
Ideally, the Broncos would like Lynch to sit for a year to learn their system, which means Sanchez will be their opening day starter. Since Sanchez also hasn’t had enough time to master their playbook, Kubiak and his coaching staff will take some pressure away from him by emphasizing the running game.
During the offseason, the Broncos bolstered their offensive line by signing Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson. The team also drafted another offensive lineman with their 6th round pick in the draft. By adding the offensive linemen, Kubiak is signifying the end of the pass-happy Broncos and the beginning of a new smash mouth running offense. The Broncos currently have C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman as their top running backs, and drafted Devontae Booker in the 4th round of the NFL draft to add some more depth to the position.
Wide receivers like Emmanuel Sanders believe the new approach on offense will benefit the team. The Pro Bowler said he expects the emphasis on running the ball to have a positive impact on the passing game because their opponents will focus more on stopping the run that they would on the pass. Kubiak believes that running the ball more is a way to challenge defenses, protect their quarterbacks, and put themselves in a position to finish drives and score points.
Even with the team running more because of Manning’s injuries, the Broncos were 17th in rushing last season. The Broncos running backs combined for five 100 yard rushing games last season, which is something Kubiak expects to improve this year with the added emphasis on running. With the team surprising a lot of people by matching C.J. Anderson’s free agent offer sheet, Anderson is considered the favorite to be the starting running back. But, there are no guarantees and he will have to earn the spot.
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