Since week 10, Denver Broncos running back, C.J. Anderson has touched the ball 151 times. Has has 20+ carries in each of the last four games and even cracked 30 carries (32) in week 13 vs the Kansas City Chiefs.
The team has leaned on him heavily, using him as the catalyst to launching a new "run-first" offensive identity, after their embarrassing week 11 loss to the St. Louis Rams.
As the starting running back, Anderson has been nothing short of spectacular. He's amassed 812 yards from scrimmage and 6 touchdowns, since week 10. His burst and absolute unwillingness to go down at first contact, has brought an element to the Broncos backfield that has been lacking for a long, long time.
As Anderson's been nursing an ankle injury, but playing through it, some have voiced the concern that maybe the team is leaning on him too hard and should spare him for the playoffs. He is quick to dispel that worry, however.
“Body’s feeling fine, I’m great," he said Thursday via the team. "It’s that time of the year where teams want to run the ball and teams want to play defense and we can still throw the ball, which is great because we have 18 (QB Peyton Manning) back there. So my body’s OK and I’ll be ready to go.”
He's talking about being ready for the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football. The Broncos will be on the road, in a hostile December environment, with post-season stakes on the line. It will be game that represents everything about meaningful down-the-stretch football in the NFL.
The Bengals defense has taken a step back this year, likely due in large part to the loss of defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer. But they still play a very physical brand of defense and will be fighting to maintain their lead in the AFC North.
“We’re just going to do whatever the defense gives us," Anderson said, when asked what he expects to see on MNF. "We’re going to prepare for both, if it’s cold or if it’s nice, or if it’s snow or if it’s wet and raining. You just never know. But at the end of the day, we’re going to execute whatever we have to call and as long as we execute and focus on the process, we’ll get what we want.”
Anderson has battled hard to get what he wants, after going undrafted out of California in 2013. The Broncos liked what they saw in the 5'8, 224lb bruiser and signed him to compete in organized team activities and training camp.
After an impressive showing in the preseason, Anderson made the team's final 53-man roster, even though the Broncos knew they'd be without him for weeks, as he healed from a knee injury.
Anderson is a scrapper. A survivor. And when he finally got a flash of daylight this year, when the Broncos top two running backs went down with injuries, just like on the field, he hit the proverbial hole with power and authority.
And he hasn't looked back. The Broncos pulled a complete 180 degree turn, changing the face of their offense in-season. With a future Hall of Fame quarterback, like Peyton Manning, behind center, it made the change that much more remarkable.
The fact that it's working and working well, certainly helps. But that's due in no small measure to Anderson's amazing production. The second-year pro is on a roll, and he's playing the type of football, on a championship-caliber team, that running backs dream about.
Don't worry about C.J. Anderson. Terrance Knighton“We all have that confidence," Anderson said. "We also know we also have to go 1-0 every week. The Super Bowl is in February and we’re still in December. If we don’t take care of December, we won’t be able to get to February. And if we don’t take care of January, we won’t be able to get to February so we’re behind him 110 percent (Knighton). We know our goal in the locker room and we know what we want to do and at the end of the day, we want to go 1-0, and 1-0 is beating the Cincinnati Bengals this week.”