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Stat Snip: Week 6 Broncos-Chargers

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Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Another week, another game to review, another chance to dig into the game and see what statistics stand out as helpful to understanding 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. After this past game, it's hard not to be excited about this team.

Onto this week's Stat Snip I decided to look at two different statistics instead of just the usual one:

  • Breakdown of Targets per Wide Receiver and Tight End:
    - Demaryius Thomas: 21.2%
    - Eric Decker: 23.4%
    - Brandon Stokley: 10.8%

    - Joel Dreessen: 9.9%
    - Jacob Tamme: 14.9
  • Breakdown of Rushing Yards per Attempt
    - Willis McGahee: 432 Yards on 100 Attempts for 4.3 YPA
    - Ronnie Hillman: 50 Yards on 17 Attempts for 2.9 YPA
    - Lance Ball: 45 Yards on 17 Attempts for 2.6 YPA

The point I'm trying to make is two fold, the first part is that the balance and success of the passing game isn't isolated to one wide receiver. Manning and the wide receivers are all finding success, it's not all reliant on one wide receiver, it's one reason the passing game is so successful. This is extremely important because the passing offense won't shut down if one wide receiver gets shut down. Look at the Chargers game, Demaryius Thomas was largely double covered most of the game and only had two receptions but Eric Decker, Brandon Stokley and the tight ends all had big games. The opposite was true against the Patriots where Decker was covered up most of the game but that allowed Thomas and Tamme to see success.This is possibly the greatest strength on the Broncos and a very good thing.

This flexibility is pretty powerful and is often referred to as low production above replacement. While in most cases having a high production above replacement is nice since it indicates a players skill, but when each player on a team is capable of having success in a system, as is the case with the Broncos right now. But the opposite is true for the Broncos run game. Despite all being in the same system and behind the same line the difference in terms of production is massive, and this is very worrisome. Last night we saw what may be the beginnings of troubles for the Broncos run game. Willis McGahee is a good runner, but isn't conditioned for being a three down back on a 12-14 play drive, just gets gassed, but despite this, the Broncos are actually using less and less of the backup running backs. Lance Ball only saw the field once against the Chargers, his lowest since early 2011. Hillman also saw his fewest touches and 2nd fewest snaps. This lack of trust is worrisome because if McGahee goes down or wears down by the end of the season, the run game cannot survive on Hillman, Ball and Moreno at their current production.

The Broncos succeed in the passing game because they have three reliable wide receivers and two reliable tight ends, the Broncos run game was supposed to be a two or three back system to keep McGahee fresh, but the struggles of all the backup running backs is a serious cause for concern. In the end this passing offense has so much good going for it that for the moment we can overlook the lack of success by Hillman, Moreno and Ball, at least in the short term.