The Denver Broncos Lack Offensive Identity


I was recently invited to do a little Q&A with Braden Shackelford over at Detroit Jock City in preparation for the Denver Broncos/Detroit Lions game, and I thought I’d expound on one of my answers a bit more. Here’s the initial question and answer, and it’s definitely something Broncos fans have been wondering about:

3. Who’s the starting running back in Denver? Why can’t this group get going?

It’s still C.J. right now, but he’s been nothing short of terrible. It’s not all his fault. There are two parts to this: First, the offensive line is completely rebuilt and very young. It’s not opening holes, but it will mesh and get better as the season progresses.

The other issue is the offensive identity. They’re trying to have a hybrid offense; line up and run half the time under center, then spend the other half in hurry-up, throwing the ball. It’s becoming clear that they need to pick. The Kubiak run attack can be a beast, as can the up-tempo attack. But the team has to be committed to one or the other. By trying to do both, they lose the tempo of the passing attack and the scheme of the running attack.

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Before this season, people asked me if Kubiak and Manning could work together. It’s very clear that Manning, as prolific as he is, doesn’t really fit the mold in a system that is designed for a specific type of QB.

Back then, I said they could. They’re both smart, I said. They’ll be able to make a hybrid offense that really works.

Now, I’m not so sure. It really appears that mixing the two styles just makes both styles worse than they would be otherwise. If the Broncos line up under center, everyone knows it’s that patented run attack, and the defense blows it up. If they line up in the shotgun, it’s clearly Manning’s offense, and everyone adjusts. It’s just too obvious of a tell.

The hope was that they could mix it a little more evenly. Having Manning under center, but dropping back to throw. They’ve tried it, but he’s just not comfortable doing it, and he doesn’t play as well.

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As a result, Denver now has two offenses, splitting snaps.

Some of this could all be alleviated if the offensive line improves. A lot of the issues do start there, and maybe C.J. would have better lanes and Peyton wouldn’t look so uncomfortable if the blocking was better. It’s still really early in the year.

For now, though, it does appear they need to pick an offense and stick with it. This defense is too good to waste.

Next: Denver Broncos: Six Burning Questions