Bron­cos’ of­fense, which will stay put, is mak­ing strides

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Troy E. Renck, The Den­ver Post Troy E. Renck: trenck@den­ver­post.com or @troyrenck

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.

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