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Broncos' O-Line getting back to the basics with run blocking

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For two games in a row, this pass-oriented Broncos team has shown a renewed commitment to the run game that has everyone excited - including our own CH74 who believes doing this from under center is still the key to this balanced offense working well.

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The Denver Broncos' Big Uglies may get their biggest test yet as they go against the 7-5 Buffalo Bills who boast the best pass-rushing defense in the NFL. Sacking quarterbacks 48 times this season, the Bills' front four are no joke, and the Broncos offensive line will have its hands full - literally - trying to keep Peyton Manning as the least-sacked QB in the league.

But without getting ahead of ourselves too much, CH74 has some thoughts from the Chiefs game that could come in handy on Sunday.

Denver Broncos v. Kansas City Chiefs

It seems the Broncos brain trust has finally listened to my pleas and has shown a true commitment to running the football during the past two games.

Against the division rival Chiefs, Broncos running backs racked up 198 yards on the ground on 40 carries for a 4.95 yards per carry average. That's not a bad day at the office for our favorite backs and Big Uglies. The Broncos ran 23 times from under center for 107 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and another 17 times for 91 yards from the gun (5.3 YPC).

On the surface, it would appear that my season-long assertion that the team needs to run more plays from under center may be in danger, but let's dial it in a little further, shall we?

On the Broncos' opening series, they ran the ball five times - four plays from under center and one play from the gun. On the plays the Broncos ran from under center, they picked up 21 yards (5.25 YPC); on the single play from the gun, the team picked up eight yards. With the exception of the third series, the Broncos appeared to be committed to running the offense from under center.

Broncos' early success running the ball allowed them to dictate the game to the Chiefs and paved the way for the late-game running success from the gun.  -CH74

In the second half, the offense appeared to shift gears a bit in an attempt to open up the offense. The Broncos ran a little more frequently from the gun in the second half but still favored running from under center as its bread and butter. The Broncos managed to break some long runs (13, 10, 17 and 20) from the shotgun due to favorable box counts, which skews the average a bit. The majority of those longer runs came in the second half after the Broncos had presumably worn down the defense.

The Broncos were stuffed for no gain or negative yardage on seven plays - three for -7 from under center and four for -3 from the gun.

It still looks like my assertion is in danger, doesn't it? It's my opinion that the early success the Broncos had running the ball from under center helped to keep the Chiefs defense not only honest, but it also kept them guessing. That early success allowed the Broncos to be able to dictate the game to the Chiefs and paved the way for the late-game running success from the gun.

The Broncos reached a point in the game that they could dial up whatever they wanted to on offense. The last drive in the second half where Manning took three consecutive deep shots to Sanders and Latimer illustrates that point perfectly. The Broncos are getting back to the basics of the game - and not a moment too soon. This newfound balance on offense makes this team extremely dangerous going forward!


Individual Grades

LT Ryan Clady (#78): Clady played one of his more solid games of the season on Sunday night. He was beat to the outside by Tamba Hali early in the second quarter and failed to sustain a block midway through the third that caused an Anderson run to get blown up. But in this game Clady looked more like the LT I am used to seeing.

CH74's Score: PB (=) RB (=) HD (=) FT (=) LV (=) PL/T () PNT (=)

LG Orlando Franklin (#74): Franklin played well Sunday but had a few issues primarily with his run and trap blocking. Big O missed a trap block early on in the first quarter and missed on a second-level block in the second.

CH74's Score: PB (=) RB (=) HD (=) FT (=) LV (=) PL/T (=) PNT (=)

C Will Montgomery (#64): Montgomery played well but had a few whiffs at the second level. Monty had a whiff at 13:11 in the first. Anderson was able to make his man miss and still picked up 16 on the play. Montgomery also had his hands full with Dontari Poe on occasion and is still showing issues with larger DTs.

CH74's Score: PB (=) RB (=) HD (=) FT (=) LV (=) PL/T () PNT (=)

RG Manny Ramirez (#66): ManRam was up and down in this game. He has proved to be a more effective trap blocker than Franklin, but he still has issues moving his feet and losing leverage as evidenced by a play midway through the third where Manny lost his feet and was overpowered. This caused a run play failure away from his initial block. Manny did have some impressive plays as well. At 4:59 in the first, Ramirez logged a knockdown on a play that Anderson was able to pick up 11 yards.

CH74's Score: PB (=) RB (=) HD (=) FT (=) LV (=) PL/T (=) PNT (=)

RT Louis Vasquez (#66): Vasquez is still not looking very comfortable at tackle. Big Lou was beat by Houston at 14:10 in the third; giving up the only sack of the day on Manning. It looked like Lou forgot to move his feet and Houston beat him with speed and angry hands to the outside. Vasquez and Manny also had a poor tandem block midway through the first quarter.

CH74's Score: PB (=) RB (=) HD (=) FT (=) LV (=) PL/T () PNT (=)

ExT Paul Cornick (#71): Paul saw some action manning the extra tackle position in heavy sets. Cornick had a whiff early in the first. The added reps Cornick has seen in 2014 appear to be helping his game.

CH74's Score: PB (=) RB (=) HD (=) FT (=) LV (=) PL/T () PNT (=)

Miscellaneous Notes

The Chiefs were taking on our pulling guards in a unique way. I observed Chief defenders consistently going low on both Ramirez and Franklin as shown here with 1:02 left in the third. This tactic proved to be ineffective against the Broncos. Juwan Thompson was able to pick up a nice gain of 16 on this particular play. It looks like it's back to the drawing board for KC in that regard!


What to Look for Against the Bills

Will Montgomery's issues with larger tackles in this game concerns me. I foresee some guard help with blocking Bills' Marcell Dareus. The rest of that Bills front seven is also very formidable and will prove to be a challenge for the Broncos O-Line. Louis Vasquez will need to bring his A-Game in this one. The Broncos need to stick with their newfound commitment to running the football to help mitigate the Bills' pass rush.

I am not in the blue this week on the broadcast map, so I'll probably have to watch the game at Chili's. I am a little reluctant to go there due to what transpired the last time I watched the game there. The good thing is that Rams game got the Broncos to do a little soul-searching, and they have fixed a lot of the issues I have noticed scouting the team this season.

What do you think MHR? Should I shun superstition and go back to the scene of the crime, or should I find a new place to watch the game?

GO BRONCOS!!!