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C.J. Anderson has faith in Kubiak to make 'balanced' offense work

The Broncos' starting running back last season knows he is atop the depth chart heading into offseason, but he has great competition right behind him.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

It was no surprise to hear C.J. Anderson give props to his fellow running backs Monday when talking about the Broncos' greater emphasis on a running game under new head coach Gary Kubiak.

But listening to him name all the guys who could have a big impact on the offense this season in an Academy Awards-style, you might have forgotten Anderson actually is part of that running game.

"We've got one of the best quarterbacks to ever play this game. We've got Demaryius Thomas on the outside ... we've got Emmanuel Sanders on the outside. Cody Latimer is going to have a big year. We still have ‘Bubba' (Andre Caldwell) playing at a high level. With ‘Virg' (Virgil Green) and ‘O.D.' (Owen Daniels) at the tight ends and ‘J.C.' (James Casey), that helps out a lot," Anderson said. "We still have a lot of weapons on the outside so we can put the ball in the air and be just as effective as we were."

Wait, aren't we planning a running attack?

"We have weapons in the backfield that can also make it happen," Anderson added.


So, basically, the offense will rely on both strengths - exactly what Kubiak has been saying since his first press conference in Dove Valley three months ago.

"People talk about how we're going to run the ball a lot more, but I just think we're going to be more balanced," Anderson confirmed for good measure.

Among the more interesting of the running back's comments Monday was his insider information into Peyton Manning's progress on this new offense.

For the first time in a while, Manning is also "learning" an offense. Anderson said he isn't picking Manning's brain just yet because he knows the quarterback is still letting the new information sink in.

"With a new system, he's learning a lot too," Anderson said, adding that Manning has already been more vocal this week than last with questions. "I guess it's starting to click for him. You kind of want to beat him to it because if it clicks for him, he can tell you where to be. If you're messing up, that's not a good place to be."

Running backs coach Eric Studesville is also getting down the new plan down.

So if your quarterback - and your running backs coach - are still learning the offense, where do you turn?

Players who have done it before, of course.

That's why Anderson spent significant time with Ravens' running back Justin Forsett at the Pro Bowl to ask questions and understand the terminology. Forsett, who exploded last year with 1,266 rushing yards under Kubiak's offense, even texted Anderson a few weeks ago to find out how things have been going.

"He helped me out a lot. It's coming along better now. Our second week in, and I've put a lot of time into it ... a lot of hours," Anderson said. "For me, it's actually seeing it. I can talk about it and tell you guys what I need to do all day, but now it's actually me seeing it and repping it so that it can click and we can move on."

Taking notes from film on Forsett as well as Houston running back Arian Foster, Anderson said the back who can be patient - and then decisive - is the one who will succeed in this offense.

You get your shoulder pads squared, your pads down and you get to be the physical back that I like to be.   -C.J. Anderson on Kubiak's zone blocking offense.

"You get your shoulder pads squared, and you get your pads down, you get to be the physical back that I like to be," Anderson said of the zone blocking scheme. "I think it fits everybody that's in our room right now. As we get going and keep learning, it will be successful for us."

Anderson and Manning have conferenced on the new scheme a little as well.

"He's told me some things that he wanted me to do to help him out, to help ourselves out and help us out as a team," Anderson said. "I told him I've got it. I've got that down for when we do our individual things."

Although Kubiak has said many times that Anderson enjoys the right to be the starter at camp, No. 22 knows the coach is also telling the truth when he says the starting job will go to whoever earns it.

"Nothing is handed to you. I know that I have to go out and grind every day and work every day, put my hard hat on and bring my lunch pail," Anderson said. "Our running back room is very talented as you guys got to see last year."

That "room" includes Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman and Juwan Thompson. Ball, Hillman and Thompson all saw playing time last year and all could compete for the No.1 position on the depth chart this year. Anderson rushed for 849 yards and saw the end zone eight times. Thompson, the rookie, was the next most productive with 272 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

"It doesn't matter who is behind me, we're going to do what the team thinks is best," Anderson said. "If that's me, then that's great. If that's somebody else, then I'll do whatever the team needs from me in my role."

And that's ok with Anderson, who has a lot of faith in Kubiak.

"I think he's awesome to be honest. ...You know he has the smarts, and I guess you can say the passion," Anderson said, highlighting the success Kubiak has had with various NFL offenses by paying attention to fundamentals and execution. "[It's] the little details that matter when you get to the postseason and the big games, the very little details that he puts in, those matter. We emphasize those so much. When you see that, that's pretty amazing."

No matter what sort of hybrid passing/running attack Kubiak puts in place, Anderson knows it will be good for the whole offense.

"I'm going to love it," he said. "I'm going to love whatever we do."

Oh, and guess what else Anderson loves?