Jussel: Ability to run serves Broncos well
Double nickels. Fifty-five.
Runs, that is.
Single-wing, read-option or simply ramming it up the gut, it happened 55 times in Sunday’s 17-10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
That’s what the Denver Broncos have morphed into.
Don’t like what’s happening on the Bronco front right now? Want to see that old pigskin flying through the air, perfect spiral after perfect spiral? Embrace the Green Bay Packers and ensure yourself a happy Sunday for the remainder of this football season.
I’m here to tell you, the Denver Broncos are doing the right things at the right time, even if that involves virtually nothing but pushing, plodding and grunting their way down the field a few yards at a time.
They have won three of their past four games to improve to 4-5 and are only one game out of the lead in the AFC West. Yes, hard to believe, but they are a playoff contender (playoff contender, not Super Bowl contender).
They are on their way to becoming a force again. There is silver lining in clouds, a straw to grasp, light at the other end of what has been an inordinately long tunnel.
It has long been my contention that teams win most consistently when their huge, mobile and nasty critters most often win the battle at the line of scrimmage.
Since Tim Tebow replaced Kyle Orton midway through a loss to San Diego five games ago, the Broncos have changed their mode of transportation and rushed for 162, 177, 195, 299 and 244 yards.
The average NFL team rushes for just more than 100 yards per game. This season, the Broncos have rushed for 1,424 yards at 5 yards a crack — almost 1,100 of that coming after Tebow hit the field.
We are all aware that Tebow might or might not be the Broncos’ quarterback of the future.
But there is really good news here: Regardless of whether Tebow, Orton, Brady Quinn, Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning is the Broncos’ quarterback of the future, the team is going to be able to run the football. And as long as John Fox is at the controls, the team will attempt to do that.
The offensive line, from left to right Ryan Clady, Zane Beadles, J.D. Walton, Chris Kuper and Orlando Franklin, is among the youngest in the league, with Franklin a rookie, Beedles and Walton second-year guys, Clady in his fourth year and Kuper in his sixth. They are big, are blowing people off the line of scrimmage — and are just getting started.
Whether the Broncos have Tebow fluttering the ball down the field or have Luck or someone of similar ilk throwing darts down the field, the Broncos are going to be able to run the football.
That’s one heckuva thing to establish in any league and the reason they are now being watched by curious onlookers in this copy-cat league.
One of the curious onlookers has been New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, who has shown films of the Broncos being directed by Tebow in recent weeks. That study has brought some scoffs from Jets players, including All-Pro corner Darrelle Revis, who says he might get bored playing against Denver tonight as the Jets visit New Mile High.
Revis might be bored, but he had better get over it quickly, or he’ll get burned.
You will recall in Sunday’s win over Kansas City, Tebow threw only eight times — but four of those were lengthy shots, one completed for a TD, two highly contested that could have been caught, and another that wasn’t close to anyone but a beer vendor.
Denver will not do much differently tonight than they did against the Chiefs. For one reason, it seems to be working. For another, there simply hasn’t been enough time to do much changing, much new game planning.
The Broncos will run the ball again, some option, some just plain old grinding. They might not run it 55 times, but you can bet they’ll try to get as close to that number as they can.
The quick turnaround will be doubly tough on the Jets.
For one thing, they played on Sunday night, basically making Monday a wasted day, Tuesday and Wednesday force-feeding of what the Broncos might try, and today a travel day that will land them a mile high.
That will be too much. I’ll take my 5-4 record picking with or against Denver and say the Broncos win another low-scoring battle, 21-17.