September 9, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee (23) runs with the ball during the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 31-19. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE
Another week, another game to review, another chance to dig into the game and see what statistics stand out as helpful to understand the game or may be a trend that will affect future games. Now this is just a short article, like the title suggests, this won't be indepth or intense, just something that is, hopefully, interesting.
Now before we start, I want to review last weeks Stat Snip, which talked about the Broncos deep passing game. I noted that the Broncos likely wouldn't, and shouldn't, go deep much in the future, and we saw why. So far this season on passes of 20 or more yards, Peyton Manning is 0 of 5 with 3 interceptions. Hopefully they read last weeks article.
Onto this week's Stat Snip:
- On Attempts Between the Tackles: 31 Attempts, 94 Yards, 3.1 Yards per Attempt
- On Attempts Outside the Tackles: 19 Attempts, 114 Yards, 6.0 Yards per Attempt
It's clear the Broncos interior line has an issue with run blocking. Now before I rip them, they are very good in terms of pass blocking. But these past two games, they've got rocked in terms of trying to move opposing defensive lines. Now the Broncos have played two very solid front seven teams in the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Atlanta Falcons, so we have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn't. They are also two very different defenses, with the Steelers being strong inside with a great pass rusher outside and the Falcons being more talented outside with a nice, well rounded MLB.
Having seen that running to the outside is the best option against two different, but talented, defenses, I'm hoping the coaching staff will take notice. As we've seen in both games, McGahee can rush up the middle or outside, he's balanced enough to do either, he's more successful taking it outside. The same is true for the #2 running back Knowshon Moreno, whose speed and agility are best utilized outside in open space. Ball is no speedster, but he's strong enough to carry a tackler with him for a few extra yards either on the outside or inside.
Now there might be a few reasons for this. The first is one I've mentioned before and it's tight end Joel Dreessen who is a very good run blocker on the outside. The second reason has to do with the size of the interior line. Both Zane Beadles and J.D. Walton are two very big lineman who, while being great pass protectors, aren't able to create sizable running lanes on the inside. Along with the injuries along the line and Manny Ramirez starting, aren't conducive to a strong, inside run game. My final thought on why this might be is because of the scheme. Peyton Manning, and especially the no huddle, don't use pure run blocking tight ends. Now when the Broncos had Spencer Larsen, they had more options and would keep him in on more downs since he could run and pass block as well as be a receiver. With a specialized full back like Chris Gronkowski, you are very limited since he's a liability in pass coverage. Without that run blocker in front, the inside run game can struggle.
Overall, I'm looking forward to see if the coaching staff is noticing this trend and will try to make the most and avoid situations that don't maximize the run game.