So far in this young 2015 season, it hasn't been easy for C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman. Running lanes have been scarce and the pressure has been constant. Even so, with a new focus and commitment to the running game, the Denver Broncos have only netted 130 total rushing yards in two games.
They have to do better.
Just like most facets of football, the running game is based on a symbiotic relationship between the offensive linemen and the ball-carriers. If one component fails, it makes it exponentially more difficult on the other.
The Broncos O-line have done Anderson and Hillman no favors, but as head coach Gary Kubiak pointed out on Friday, following the Broncos 31-24 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, even when the O-line struggles, the backs have to find a way to produce.
“There are a lot of times it wouldn't matter who was back there," Kubiak said in reference to the Thursday night game. "I think there's some times that, as a back, when things aren't good, you've still got to find a way to make things happen. We're all in this together.”
Kubiak makes a good point. Sometimes the ball-carrier has to create. Anderson was very good at doing that down the stretch in 2014, playing behind a sub-par O-line. So far this year, however, he's struggled to the tune of a 2.3 yards per carry average.
Hillman has looked more explosive. In three less carries, he's rushed for 19 more yards than Anderson. Hillman's found ways to make something out of nothing. And if Anderson can't follow suit, Hillman will continue to eat into his carries. For now, Kubiak remains committed to playing both backs.
“We're playing a lot of guys," Kubiak said regarding the running back competition. "They're going to both play. C.J. did some good things in the game. Ronnie did some good things in the game. We're going to continue to play them both”
Better production out of the running game will take pressure off of Peyton Manning, who's been under constant duress in two games. Chalk it up to a new system, new faces up front, or whatever you want, but the Broncos have to find a way to run the ball.
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