It isn't easy to run the ball on the road. The Denver Broncos are coming off a two-game road trip, of which they both won.
Over the last two games, the Broncos have rushed for a total of 141 yards — 52 at Cincinnati and 89 at Tampa Bay. They ran the ball surprisingly well in their two opening contests, eclipsing 100 yards in both, but they were both home games.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1681565-5-reasons-you-should-go-p... With a young quarterback(s) under center, the running game becomes critical. Gary Kubiak talked about what's holding the offense back on Monday, following Denver's 27-7 victory over Tampa.
“We really struggled, especially in the first half, but that’s the best friend a young quarterback can have," Kubiak said. "Whether it would have been Paxton or if Trevor would have come back, we need to move the ball a little better on the ground."
After starting off strong, C.J. Anderson has struggled to find running lanes and get to the second level of late. Of course, it doesn't help that the Broncos have been without starting right tackle Donald Stephenson throughout the last 11 quarters of play.
The Broncos are still trying to forge chemistry as a unit on the O-line. There have been some bright spots, as Kubiak pointed out.
“We can always do better, and that’s all of us," Kubiak said. "I think [T] Russell Okung is playing at a high level. I think our center [Matt Paradis] is playing at a high level. We have to continue to grow as a group. We’ve had a few changes go on. We’ve adjusted, but we can adjust better. We’ll continue to look at what we’re doing and try to improve.”
Michael Schofield has done an admirable job moving inside to start at right guard. But last year's second round pick, Ty Sambrailo, is still trying to get his groove back at RT, filling in for the injured Stephenson. Sambrailo went a calendar year without actually playing in a regular season game.
The rust is falling off in chunks for Sambrailo. After a shaky start in Week 3, he showed improvement in Tampa, even earning a little praise from Pro Football Focus.
“I think Ty is coming along," Kubiak said. "Remember, Ty hasn’t played a lot of football and now he’s forced into playing a lot of football very quickly. That’s tough to do. I think he’s had his moments. We’re looking for more consistency, but I like the way he’s working. He needs to keep coming along to help us get better.”
The Broncos have also struggled to convert 3rd-&-shorts on the ground. Their inability to run the ball on the early downs led to a lot of 3rd-&-longs in Tampa, which is another red flag with a young signal-caller.
“We were hurting ourselves on third and long. It did help," Kubiak said. "When we ran the ball a little bit in the start of the third quarter we kept out third downs a little bit more manageable and made a few.”
With the Atlanta Falcons coming to town this week, the Broncos have a great opportunity to get back on track running the ball. Allowing an average of 102.3 yards per game on the ground, Atlanta has the No. 16 rushing defense.
And there's a chance the Broncos could get back Stephenson. And Virgil Green, their best blocking tight end, who's also missed the last couple games with a calf injury.
“I think he and Virgil are both in the same boat," Kubiak said. "They both did more today. Right now we’re looking towards him being a part of whatever we’re doing Wednesday, somehow someway. How much he’ll be a part? I don’t know. Obviously I think they are both very close."
It'll be interesting to see how big of a workload both players are able to shoulder on Wednesday and could give us a better inkling of what to expect from the running game in Week 5.
But the bottom line is, the Broncos must get back into the business of running the ball with authority, to protect Trevor Siemian, or Paxton Lynch. Getting their right tackle back and playing at home should (at the very least), give them a leg up in that endeavor.
Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
To get instant Broncos notifications, download the NEW Scout mobile app for iOS HERE!null