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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Denver Broncos’ rushing attack will go from first to worst under Manning

Let’s face it. Low rushing totals are a byproduct of the pass-friendly league that is now the NFL. Teams pass so much now that it seems like they sometimes forget to run the ball.

This is especially true of teams that have a signal-caller the quality of a Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or a Drew Brees. Manning who usually called his own plays as quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts was definitely guilty of this and will bring the same tendencies to the Denver Broncos.

The proof is in the pudding. Indianapolis ranked 31st, 32nd and 29th in rushing the last three years Manning was under center there.

Now some will blame the Colts’ lack of talent at the running back position but the Colts’ rushing totals had been in decline way before their backfield talent started to drop off. Plus that didn’t seem to hinder the Colts from advancing to the Super Bowl in 2009.

But that has been the trend for a number of teams over the past decade or so. While it wasn’t a big trend in the 80’s or early 90’s, the West Coast offense incorporated a philosophy that considered a short pass the same as a running play.

As teams have started to move towards the high-octane passing attacks that we see now, many of these teams seemed to have adopted that same methodology to their offense.

A four or five-yard completion on first down has the same effect that a four or five-yard running play does. As long as the team can stay out of second-and-long or third-and-long situations then the defense has to be prepared for either a run or a pass on the next play instead of just lining up for the pass and teeing off on the quarterback.

These high-octane offenses aren’t executing as proficiently as the West Coast offense did though because the West Coast offense (under Bill Walsh) still sought to have a balanced run/pass ratio. Offenses now call way more pass plays than run plays.

This actually helps the defense because they don’t concern themselves as much with the run knowing teams like the Colts and the Patriots weren’t going to run much. Of course that didn’t make those offenses any easier to stop but from time to time defenses were able to slow them down.

Besides, running the ball is overrated.  The Colts were in the bottom of the league running the ball when they went to the Super Bowl and the last two Super Bowl winners were ranked 24th and 32th respectively.

So don’t expect Broncos’ fans to worry too much about ignoring their rushing attack as long as Manning continues his winning ways. Of course that won’t endear him much to Denver’s running backs but hey, having Tim Tebow around didn’t make Denver’s wide receivers very happy last season either.

Roosevelt Hall is an NFL Blogger for The Sport Mentalist and an NBA Blogger for The Sport Mentalist 2. He is also a Sports Reporter for Pro Sports Lives. He can be contacted at and be sure to follow him on Twitter @sportmentalist.

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  1. True,Denver's rushing numbers will suffer,but I think it's more important to look at rushing numbers in playoff games rather than the regular season.It's pretty evident Manning as a post season quarterback has not been great.The year the Colts won the Superbowl, Manning threw 3 td's and 7 picks in the playoffs,but the Colts,unlike the regular season that year, ran the ball well.I thought Manning would take a hint and not attempt to do it all in the playoffs after that as playoff football features better defenses and coordinators and requires more balance,but silly me.Ever since come playoff time Manning shucks the run almost completely.Result?No more Superbowl wins.

  2. Very true. The Giants had the last ranked rushing attack heading into the playoffs, but that is very misleading. Bradshaw was hurt up until week 13 or so. Once he came back they started rushing the ball much better.