Our running backs carried the ball 31 times for 166 yards vs the Dolphins. That doesn’t mean that every running play worked. We actually had eight runs that were stopped for no gain or behind the LOS. To balance that we had five carries that gained 18 or more yards. As you will see, on all of those we pulled at least one offensive lineman.
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, pulling an offensive lineman means that the offensive lineman turns immediately after the snap and moves laterally behind the other offensive lineman to turn up in the whole or to trap a defender who was left unblocked by design.
This first run is our first run of the game. It’s first and 10 at the DEN 20. The Broncos have twotight ends in the game and the Dolphins have eight in the box.
Lloyd Cushenberry gets two-gapped by the NT who gets in on the tackle. The safety also crashes down and plays through Jerry Jeudy’s block to assist on the tackle. Both the S and the NT hit Phillip Lindsay behind the LOS.
This next run is on first and 10 from 25. We’ve got two tight ends in the game and the Dolphins counter with an eight-man box in their standard 5-3. This is the drive start immediately after the MIA touchdown.
Cushenberry and Graham Glasgow both get beaten at the point of the attack by their defenders. Which forces Melvin Gordon to cut this back to the weakside and get wha he can, which is one tough yard. If both of them hold their blocks for another half second, this is blocked well enough by the rest of the team to get some big yards.
This next play is our first big run of the day. It’s second and 8 from the DEN 44 and MIA only has 7 defenders in the box. The Broncos have only one TE in the game. You’ll notice that we pull two offensive lineman on this play, both LC3 and Demar Dotson pull.
All of the blockers on this play do a good job. Pulling the center on a running play is something I haven’t seen done since the Steelers were doing it in the 90s with AllPro, Dermonti Dawson. The fact that LC3 has the quickness to do this is very encouraging to me.
Lindsay is so quick through the hole that pulling offensive lineman might make our offense functional in the remaining year.
This next play is second and five from the DEN 16. We only have one TE in the game and Miami counters with a lighter, 7-man box.
Dalton Risner pulls and kicks out the OLB. Again the rest of the blockers do a good job of securing their blocks long enough for Gordon to outrun the safety to the sideline where he cuts up for an additional 15 yards before he gets knocked out of bounds to stop the clock. This play was immediately after the two minute warning in the second quarter.
Our next play is our second offensive play in the third quarter. Our drive to open the second half started with runs on four of our first five plays. The other play was a play-action pass to Noah Fant for 15. In fact our first seven plays on this drive gained positive yardage. It was the first time this season that the Broncos have run seven plays in a row that gained
yardage. Our eighth play was the incomplete pass that Drew Lock completely overthrew to a wide-open Troy Fumagalli in the right flat. Ironically this drive would end with our running game being unable to gain a yard one on 4th and 1.
We pull both tackles and the center on this play. I haven’t seen this ever in the NFL. The last time I saw a team pulling three offensive lineman on a running play was when I was watching the Nebraska Cornhuskers of the 90s who ran on almost every play. Again on this play almost every blocker does a good job on their blocks. This was with two tight ends in the game and an 8-man box. Lindsay does a good job of getting to and through the hole quickly.
This next play is 2nd and 3 from the MIA 20 with 2:38 left to play in the 3rd quarter. The Dolphins have an 8-man box, but we only have one TE in the game. On this play we pull Risner. Fumagalli makes a nice block at the point of attack here.
Gordon reads this well and bursts through the hole before he outruns the second/third level defenders to the endzone.
On this final running play that I am going to analyze, the Broncos have Austin Schlottmann in for Risner. Schlottmann pulls and does a decent job of walling off the defender to allow Lindsay the crease to break this outside for 20 yards. This was on 2nd and 1 from the MIA 37 with 6:36 to play in the 4th quarter. This was the drive that should have iced the game with a TD had Gordon not fumbled at the goal line.
You should also notice that Tim Patrick makes a nice block on the CB after he comes in motion. Without his block this run probably gets stopped for 8-10 yards instead of going for 20.
The Broncos now have 13 total runs this season that have gained 18 or more yards and five of them came against Miami. Lindsay has eight and Gordon has five. Since these are big plays, they tend to be memorable, however, I don’t remember if we pulled offensive lineman on the other eight big runs this season. I think I remember Bolles pulling on at least one of them. I’m hoping that pulling offensive lineman will become a much bigger part of our run game in the remaining six games. It will be interesting to see if the Saints do a better job of countering this type of running play. The Saints are currently 2nd in the league allowing only 3.3 yards per carry. The Dolphins are 29th allowing 4.8. If we can run again effectively against the Saints it will tell me that our run game can be a true weapon for us. I’m guessing that if we run effectively against the Saints, we will be pulling lineman to do so.
After the Saints the we have four of the five remaining teams that we play who are not good at stopping the run. In terms of average yards per carry allowed, KC is 23rd, CAR is 24th, LAC is 27th and BUF is 28th. If we can upset the Saints with our running game, we might be able to do the ride our rushing attack to some more wins in the final stage of the season.