There has been much talk about Gary Kubiak's "system" and how it works with Peyton Manning's "system", but few are talking about what Kubiak is actually saying about what he is trying to do with this football team in 2015. You know, the here and now.
I think he dropped more than a few hints on the world about his true intentions in his post-game presser after the Denver Broncos won in heroic fashion over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football. All of those hints centered around one word. Physicality.
On the key to getting the running game going
"It just has to be demanded. If you're going to be physical as a football team, then you've got to stay committed and demand it. It's not good enough. I'm very disappointed. I look at myself—okay, what are we doing? I go to the coaches— re we putting ourselves in the right positions? And I go to the players and say this is either good enough or not good enough. That's our approach and I'm going to demand that we be a physical football team and that we line up and can get a yard. I'm not going to run away from that. Regardless of what happens, we're going to work through that and demand that we get it done."
Kubiak demands a tough, physical football team and let's face it, Manning has always been more of a finesse quarterback. He's prefer to out think and out smart the opponent than draw up the old ground and pound version of Super Bowl Champions past. That culture is slowly shifting and we're seeing some growing pains from that.
On if he anticipated growing pains with the new offense
"I want it to be right all the time. That's the nature of coaching. You want everything to be right. Did we know we had some young guys up front? Yeah, but some of our young guys are playing very good, too. Our left tackle [Ty Sambrailo] played very good for a rookie left tackle going in there. Like I said, there are positives. We've got to get better as a group. If we find a way to stay on the football field offensively, we can improve physically and do that. With our defensive football team, it should help us in the long hall. Like I said, we're going to stay committed to that. We're never going to run away from what our quarterback does best, but we've got to find a way to be physical as a football team."
The new Orange Crush defense has certainly embraced the mentality to the point where throwing a few stupid personal foul penalties at the Chiefs offense just to get into their heads. I'll take the physical part, but the dumb stuff can stay in Oakland. However, the Broncos offense is another story entirely. It's played finesse football since 2012, which means all of these players must try to learn how to be an offense that pounds the opposing defense into submission.
Fortunately, Kubiak has a Plan B to fall back on while this offense slowly morphs into the kind of offense he believes will win football games come January and February. That Plan B is Peyton Manning. Manning can fall back on the no huddle offense all of the players know well already when the going gets tough like they did against the Chiefs. It also helps to have the NFL's best defense.
On the success of the no-huddle offense
"Like I said, we know we have the ability to do that. We didn't do that perfectly all of the time, either. We kind of went to it in the second quarter and started doing it more throughout the course of the game. Regardless of whether you're in no-huddle or huddle and regardless of what you're doing, it still gets back to being able to run the ball some. If we stay in the no-huddle, we have to find a way to run the ball better."
This crutch, I believe, will buy Kubiak and Manning enough time to bring together an offense that is the best of both worlds. One that allows Manning to be Manning, but also allows Manning to be a 39 year old game manager. It's on the rest of the Broncos offense to step up to the plate and carry Manning to the finish line, much like the Broncos offenses of 1997 and 1998 did for John Elway. Great quarterbacks don't always have to finish great to be a world champion. Football is the ultimate team sport in that regard.