FanPost

A Statistical Analysis of the 2008-2009 Denver Broncos Running Game

 

When people think of the Denver Broncos they often think of an Offensive Line where, "that would let my grandmother run for 1,000 yards."  This year the Denver Broncos have proven that your grandmother most definitely could not run for 1,000 yards.

In this article I will attempt to show three things:

1.)    The state of the Denver Broncos’ running game in comparison with the rest of the league.

2.)    The state of the Denver Broncos’ running backs in comparison with the rest of the league.

3.)    The effect of the Denver Broncos’ running game on their overall performance.

This article is hopefully the first in a series of articles examining the Denver Broncos Offensive and Defensive Lines. 

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via cache.daylife.com


 

 

1.)    The state of the Denver Broncos’ running game in comparison with the rest of the league.

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via cache.gettyimages.com

According to Football Outsiders Offensive Line Rankings (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/ol) the Denver Broncos are ranked number one in run blocking.  The Denver Broncos have an Adjusted Line Yards per carry of 5.01.  This is .81 higher than the league average of 4.20.  5.01 Adjusted Lines Yards per carry is also .37 or 8% higher than the fifth ranked San Francisco 49ers.  Further, 5.01 is .99 Adjusted Line yards higher than the twenty-second ranked Kansas City Chiefs (or %23.13 percent higher), who rank second highest in the A.F.C. West.

This remarkably high Adjusted Line Yards per carry of 5.01 would suggest that the Denver Broncos are dominating the league with their running game.  However, this is not the case.  Instead, the Denver Broncos are ranked fourth in rush offense by Football outsiders, their rushing DVOA of %11.0 is less than half of the %23.8 Rushing DVOA of the number one ranked New York Giants.

These statistics may make one ask how the disparity between Rushing DVOA and Adjusted Line Yards per carry can occur.  Football Outsiders attempts to describe this possible separation:

"Why are these rankings different from the team offense DVOA ratings for rushing? Among other reasons, they don't include quarterbacks or fumbles, long runs are truncated, and a different set of adjustments is used, attempting to isolate line playrather than total team offense.

 

A team with a high ranking in Adjusted Line Yards but a low ranking in 10+ Yards is heavily dependent on its offensive line to make the running game work. A team with a low ranking in Adjusted Line Yards but a high ranking in 10+ Yards is heavily dependent on its running back breaking long runs to make the running game work.

 

However, it is important to understand that these ratings only somewhatseparate the offensive line from the running backs. A team with a very good running back will appear higher no matter how bad their line, and a team with a great line with appear lower if the running back is terrible."

 

Football Outsiders’ suggestion for the difference leads us to the second part of this article.

 

2.)    The state of the Denver Broncos’ running backs in comparison with the rest of the league.

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via media.scout.com

The Denver Broncos rank twenty-sixth in runs over ten yards, with only %13 of their runs going over ten yards.  The thirty-second ranked Indianapolis Colts have %9 of their runs go over ten yards.  So, only four percent more of the Denver Broncos’ runs are in excess of ten yard, than the worst team in the Nation Football League at runs over ten yards.  If Football Outsiders is correct in their assertion that a team with a low percentage of ten plus yards and high Adjusted Line Yards per carry means that the team has a better Offensive Line than Running Back, the Denver Broncos therefore probably have  mediocre Running Backs and an excellent Offensive Line.

Football Outsiders’ third assertion that, "a team with a great line with appear lower if the running back is terrible" seems to suggest that the Denver Broncos must not have terrible running backs.  I will set out to prove that the Denver Broncos in fact do have mediocre running backs, but an absolutely amazing Offensive Line.

The first thing I noticed when researching the Denver Broncos running backs this year was the amazing amount of injuries the backfield has suffered.  No Denver Bronco has more than ninety-five carries, while EVERY other team in the National Football League has at least one Running Back with at least ninety-five carries.  Eight teams even have two Running Backs with ninety-five carries.

The highest ranked Running Back according to Football Outsiders DYAR (as shown here http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/rb) is Michael Pittman at fifteenth (due to his low amount of carries I had to add him to Football Outsiders list by myself, which is rather telling).    However, due to Michael Pittman’s age and injury he has very limited carries.  The second ranked Denver Bronco is Selvin Young, who is ranked thirtieth in DYAR, however he has not played in awhile.  The Denver Broncos’ current starting Running Back Peyton Hillis is ranked fortieth.

Unfortunately, I do not have the time to calculate the success rates of these Running Backs, as defined by Football Outsiders.

These statistics seem to suggest that the current Running Backs of the Denver Broncos are not mediocre, instead they are awful.  This means that the Denver Broncos’ Offensive Line is in fact absolutely amazing; they are managing to rank first Adjusted Line Yards per carry by a sizeable margin, despite their poor running backs.

3.)    The effect of the Denver Broncos’ running game on their overall performance.

To find the effect of the Denver Broncos’ running game on their overall performance I compared Football Outsiders’ Offensive Lines and their Rushing DVOA to Football Outsiders’ Drive Charts.  The rushing rank of a team’s Offensive Line seems to have no correlation to a team’s yards per drive.  However, a team’s percentage of stuffed runs does seem to strongly correlate to their touchdowns per drive.   This bodes well for the Denver Broncos’ as they rank seventh in stuffed runs.

 

I would imagine however that as the season comes to close and the weather worsens the running game will become more important.

In closing, imagine a Denver Bronco Running game where the running back is as good as the Offensive Line and what this could allow the Denver Broncos’ Offense to do.

Terrell Davis Tribute (via broncofan547)


 

This is a Fan-Created Comment on MileHighReport.com. The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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