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Broncos 39, Dolphins 36: Instant Reactions

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The Broncos have finally found their starting running back in today's highly competitive matchup.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

For all of our hot air about a lack of a running game and about how badly the Broncos needed to be more balanced, the coaching staff finally listened. I'm not sure if they truly agreed with us or if they were intentionally running the ball to shut the fans up even if it cost them the game, but either way, the end result was a victory.

I was curious about how a strong Broncos rushing attack impacts the offense as I'm beyond sick and tired of hearing people say that running the ball is "giving up yards" because the Broncos average more yards per pass attempt than run attempt. Well, how about this for cold hard football facts: The Broncos average 36.5 points per game when the offense runs for more than 100 yards. The Broncos average 22.6 points when they fail to reach 100 yards on the ground. For those who failed 2nd grade math, that is a 14 point (2 touchdown) difference. I dare anyone to tell me that running the football is a waste of time and that passing it is the recipe for success.

My confidence in this football team is still shaky seeing we just can't seem to put a complete game together, but at least if the offense stays dedicated to not only the running game, but CJ Anderson being the workhorse back, the Broncos' odds of winning in the playoffs (hence Not like the George Karl-era Nuggets) are significantly increased. Like I said, the Broncos needed less than a 90% passing offense. Guess what? Today they only passed the ball on 53% of the offensive snaps. That's it, and look at what it got us, 39 points. Yes, the Broncos were behind, but instead of abandoning the run like idiots, they kept at the run and triumphantly filled in that hole they created and stood victorious over the Miami Dolphins. That defense though... ugh!

Now onto the group reactions:

Offense:

Peyton Manning was off today. However, unlike typical Peyton Manning offenses, Adam Gase and John Fox made sure that they ran the ball so that Manning could be "off" and still pull out a victory. I know, four touchdowns doesn't sound like an "off" day, but trust me, he was off. All of those touchdowns were set up off the legs of CJ Anderson. What the stat sheet doesn't show you is the 4 blatant over throws of Emmanuel Sanders, each of which would have been easy touchdowns. So yes, he was "off", but thanks to the play of the rest of the offense, he was ultimately successful and able to play the role he seems to play best, elite game manager.

C.J. Anderson, what can't this guy do? He obviously recovers onside kick attempts. But not only that, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, and can run like Terrell Davis did. He is great at picking up blitzes and simply crushes skulls. He rushed the ball 27 times for 167 yards (6.18 ypc) and a touchdown. But hold the phone, he also caught 4 passes for 28 yards and picked up crucial first down after first down. He is without a doubt the best running back the Broncos have had since Clinton Portis, and maybe he's even better since he doesn't go down on first contact. All I know is that this cat is a stud. I don't care when Montee Ball or Ronnie Hillman get healthy, CJ Anderson is your workhorse back. It's suicide to have anyone else getting the vast majority of the carries from here on out. Anderson was built for playoff football, and playoff football is exactly what this team is fighting to play.

Demaryius Thomas is another beast on this team. Optimus Prime was on display yet again with three touchdowns. Sadly though, he didn't tie the NFL record with eight consecutive 100+ yard games, but I'm pretty sure he'll take 3 TD's as a consolation prize.

It was great to see Emmanuel Sanders back out there today. He burned the Dolphin's defense like a blowtorch to bread. Having him blow the top off the defense isn't even fair. I love this guy.

The offensive line and Virgil Green did a good job today. Green is great in the run and pass game, and we are much more effective with him in there. The line limited their penalties, but not their bonehead penalties unfortunately. Anyway, it was a step in the right direction.

Welcome to the team Wes Welker. I kinda forgot you were a contributing member of this squad.

Defense:

Holy Chris Harris Jr., you are a stud! Without Aquib Talib (hamstring, get well soon) playing most of the game, Harris was a true lockdown corner. Why QBs even look his direction is beyond me.

I still think Terrance Knighton needs to lose weight, but he registered a sack today and showed up nicely in the run defense.

TJ Ward got an interception thanks to Chris Harris, but there is a disturbing trend with this defense: Lack of tackling. Can we tackle anyone? How about stopping third and longs? I still say this defense has all the talent in the world but is horribly coached.

Special Teams:

Thank you for not have Caldwell returning anything.

McManus needs to be cut. Find the dude in the 3rd row, 7 seats in and see if he can kick field goals, cause McManus sure as hell can't. I'm not sure if we went for the two point conversion because we were chasing points or because Fox didn't trust that hack of a kicker to actually convert an extra point. At this point, it's a toss up on which it is.

Yes, we had a fumble, but it was from running, not fielding a punt, so while it pisses me off, it isn't the end of the world. Just be more careful.

Coaching:

Jack Del Rio still needs to go. He is horribly out schemed by every competent offense in the NFL. Most of the staff here has said as much for the past year. Too bad no full scale changes will be made until the offseason. But make no mistake, JDR needs to go, and in a hurry.

John Fox and Adam Gase called a great offensive game today. They kept the run/pass ratio at 50/50. Talk about balance and it showed. Keep this up, and I might not ask for your head until March!

Overall, this game had me pissed off, then happy, then elated. The Broncos have the talent, but they lack coaching and discipline. I do love that they got the running game cranking today. When they run the ball, they are unstoppable. The defense needs to step it up big time though. I just still can't shake this "doom and gloom" feeling I have with this team. Maybe it's because they simply refuse to play good football for all four quarter, but something has me pessimistic. If we keep running like we did today, we can beat anyone. The other side of that optimistic coin is that if we keep playing defense like we did today, we can lose to anyone as well. There's still time to pull it all together, but make no mistake about it, time is indeed running out.

Sound off in the comments below!