The Denver Broncos are a weekend away facing the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football, and it cannot come soon enough.
Until the game starts, Antonio Brown and the Raiders soap opera will continue to dominate headlines. For the Broncos, rookie pay caller Rich Scangarello, finally has an opportunity to reveal his offense.
Scangarello is fortunate to have many offensive weapons including a veteran quarterback, red zone tight end, and talented receiving core. However, for the Broncos to ensure a victory against the Raiders, Scangarello must run the ball.
Establishing a consistent run game will allow the Broncos to limit turnovers, and manage the clock but more importantly, it camouflages weakness.
Concerns about the offensive line specifically Garett Bolles, can diminish with a stout running game. By running the ball, the Broncos limit the amount of times Bolles is on an island in pass protection sets. Inconsistent shotgun snaps from Connor McGovern can also be eliminated by having Joe Flacco under center in the rushing game.
By running the ball, Denver can increase confidence and keep momentum.
When asked specifically about the running game Scangarello said, “The run system is always—when you’re doing things like we’re doing, it’s about getting the backs opportunities. If you give up on it, sometimes it can look sluggish, but eventually it’ll pop. When you don’t take a lot of preseason reps, when you don’t do a lot of live action, sometimes the run game takes some time to get flowing. It could be a quarter, it could be a half, it could be a game. You don’t know that, but you can’t give up on it. I think our goal is always to be balanced and I look forward to trying to make that happen on Monday night.”
Scangarello, a disciple of the Mike Shanahan coaching tree, is expected to use a variety of zone running schemes, play action, and bootlegs. The signature flair of this offense is that the running game sets up the pass.
The workhorse for this rushing attack must be Royce Freeman. In 2018 Freeman only averaged 9.3 rushing attempts per game with 37.2 yards per game. He simply did not fit into Bill Musgrave’s offense.
But in the zone running scheme, Freeman’s utilization will increase. He can implement his powerful running style between the tackles. A physical runner, Freeman can pick up yards after contact and has the vision to read blocks.
What does this mean for Phillip Lindsay?
This means that the Pro Bowler doesn’t need to take unnecessary punishment. Look for Lindsay to be utilized on the perimeter and in open space. Lindsay’s size, speed, and athleticism presents potential mismatches for any opposing defense in both the rushing and passing game.
On Monday night, under offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, the Broncos offense will have their first opportunity to create their football identity.