Running away from your problems never works, but in football, running into, around, and over them is most acceptable. John Fox knows that with running the football, you get out of it what you put into it.
The Denver Broncos put a lot into their run offense against the Kansas City Chiefs. They got a lot out of it by winning 17-10 in an important divisional game. It didn’t matter that their top two running backs got hurt in the fourth quarter. The Broncos heads didn’t fall off. They stuck to their game plan and entrusted the “next-man-up” approach.
The Broncos ran 63 offensive plays. 55 of them were running plays.
This isn’t unique to John Fox. He ran a similar type of game plan when he was with Carolina, mostly because he had DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.
In Kansas City, however, the Broncos lost Willis McGahee (hamstring) and Knowshon Moreno (knee sprain) in the first quarter. That’s the risk of calling all running plays. Moreno was ruled out for the rest of the game, but McGahee could have come back if needed.
“He was capable in an emergency to come back, but we never got that far,” Fox said after the game.
There was no need for McGahee to come back. Lance Ball picked up the ball and ran himself into a career day with 96 yards on 30 carries. Moreno had 4 carries for 54 yards before he left the game, and Tim Tebow added 43 yards on 9 carries.
The best defense may not be a good offense, but it does help create a fresh defense.
“We tried to possess the ball, tried to keep our defense fresh, tried to move the chains,” Fox said.
Move the chains they did. The Broncos controlled the clock (33:38 to 26:22) and went 5-for-14 on third down. In fact, during their first drive of the game, they were not even forced to convert on third down, and they capped the drive with a 7-yard touchdown run by Tebow. 28-first half runs and zero first half pass completions carried the Broncos to a 10-o lead at halftime.
There was no rhyme or reason to get down on the run then.
“We’re just trying to be efficient, trying to do what it takes to win in this league,” Fox said. “The statistic that’s important in there is winning. This game is only fun when you win.”
The offensive line played its best ball of the year, not giving up any sacks and being the catalyst for the Broncos 244 rushing yards. Offensive linemen would rather block for a run play than a pass play. It gets them moving forward instead of backwards.
The conditions in Kansas City were windy. Why risk Tebow to interceptions? He’s not a proven NFL passer and he was facing the Chiefs who were ranked 3rd in interceptions prior to this game. Turnovers on the road swing momentum in a hurry, and can hurt a young team like the Broncos.
“It’s a lower risk offense,” Fox said. “This is not an indictment on Tim Tebow or whoever our quarterback is. It’s just what’s working for us. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
That’s right. Don’t tinker with a team that was 2-5 at the end of October. Mid-way through November the Broncos sit at 4-5 and tied for second place in the AFC West.
The Beatles had a song called “Band on the Run.” John Fox has a team called “Ponies on the Run,” and they are now leading the league in rushing.
The stampede began Kansas City and it aspires to break down the New York Jets on Thursday.
A .500 record depends on it.
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