Broncos’ offense, which will stay put, is making strides
Buy a case of Pepto-Bismol. Keep a customized stress ball within arm’s reach. Wear a mouthpiece to ease the grinding of teeth.
The Broncos’ methodical offense, which alternates from terrible to remarkable within the same half, isn’t going anywhere.
The boss likes it. General manager John Elway admitted in the days leading up to the AFC championship game that the style suits the Broncos, complementing a nasty defense.
“I know you can win world championships with it,” said Elway, who has done just that. Twice.
It doesn’t mean coach Gary Kubiak won’t add wrinkles— for instance, finding more creative ways to use the tight ends. But the zone-blocking, under-center, quarterback-bootlegging philosophy remains here to stay. Fantasy league owners, consider yourselves warned.
That’s the thing about this scheme. Fans don’t know whether to praise its arrival or throw pillows at the TV screen. It can induce a nap. Then, with the audience on boil, a player delivers in the clutch. (Last week, it was Bennie Fowler. This week’s X factor? Pick a tight end, any tight end.)
Therein lies the beauty of brute. The Broncos throw kidney shots for three quarters, wearing down and typically wearing out the opponent, especially at high altitude.
Denver’s 2013 offense was glowstick necklaces and bass-thumping music. This offense is a campfire and bent fingers on a harmonica.
It works because of how it fits the team’s personality. This season, the Broncos came together because of how they pulled out victories. Kubiak preached the message— reiterated last week— to play for something bigger. When you play for a teammate, the man next to you, the result is greater.
In that way, the offense becomes a microcosm of the season. It takes unselfishness and commitment to go 20-plus drives without a touchdown. It takes faith to believe when third-down conversions become a luxury.
“There are times offensively we are like ‘What are we doing?’ ” running back C.J. Anderson said. “But we just fight, and we grind. That says a lot about the players and the coaches. We just stick with it.”
It works because of how it fits the defense. The Broncos’ 2013 offense broke records but ultimately broke hearts when Seattle clobbered Denver in the Super Bowl. Even if the Broncos lose to New England on Sunday, which is the national opinion, there’s no reason to abandon this attack.
One statistic sticks out when looking at this team this season. Since the Broncos went under center Nov. 22, coinciding with Brock Osweiler’s debut, they have averaged 131 yards per game on the ground. Pair a plodding, persistent rush attack with a carnivorous defense, and it plays in January. And that’s with a makeshift offensive line that figures to undergo a face-lift this offseason.
The Broncos already have won one more game this year using more force than finesse. The offense is not always easy to understand or warm up to. You don’t have to date it, just watch it.
Kubiak has forged a team that plays hard for 60 minutes. In their biggest game of the season, the Broncos must play well for 60 minutes.
The Patriots will dare Peyton Manning to beat them, enticing him to throw deep. He will have to make at least two plays but must avoid the temptation to do too much. The Broncos arrived at this point with patience and persistence.
Winning ugly may not be popular, but it can be beautiful.