It's been a month or so since Peyton Manning has made his team of choice, thus joining the Denver Broncos. Then the predictions came regarding what his influence on the Broncos, much less the AFC West, will be. You hear the following statements out there such as: Peyton Manning just made the Broncos to be the favorite to win the AFC West. Peyton Manning joining a team with a young and promising defense. The Broncos just ensured themselves a shot at the Super Bowl. Tim Tebow took the AFC West last season; just imagine what Peyton Manning can do with the same team in the playoffs.
As a Chargers fan, I don't mind all the hooplah with Peyton Manning. I don't mind that NFL analysts all around in any form of media see Manning helping the Broncos to another AFC West title. I don't mind the Super Bowl talk because the Super Bowl talk was with Manning in Indianapolis nearly every season. I don't mind any of it.
However, the worst thing I have a hard time wrapping my head around is the statement as to how the Broncos are going to win the AFC West behind Peyton Manning. The supposed theory going around here is that Manning is going to be on a team, for the first time, with a very able rushing attack. This assumption is being made to the analogy that John Elway himself couldn't win the big one until Terrell Davis arrived on seen.
So here it is, folks. My breakdown on why Peyton Manning isn't on a team with a rushing attack. A rushing attack that isn't much of a attack at all. Take a look ahead as to why I believe this, at this time, to be true.
The Broncos were the No. 1 rushing attack in the NFL last season. It's easy to see why many believe that Peyton Manning is going to have a outstanding rushing attack next season.
Here is the problem. There are two reasons as to why the Broncos rushing attack was so successful last season. The first reason is simple: The Broncos practically brought back all their running game weapons except one, Tim Tebow.
Here are some key statistics to look at regarding the Broncos' rushing attack last season. The Broncos were ranked first in rushing attempts with 546 carries for a total of 2,632 yards, yards that were ranked also first in the league in rushing yards. Added to the fact that the Broncos were ranked sixth in the NFL with 4.8 yards per carry. The Broncos had a lowly 11 rushing TD's last season.
Now let's do some deduction here for Tim Tebow, who is no longer with the team.
Tim Tebow rushed for 660 yards on 122 attempts, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Added to the fact that Tebow rushed for six of the 11 TD's that the Broncos had last season.
You take away Tim Tebow's 660 yards and 122 attempts on the ground, the Broncos only would've had 1,972 rushing yards and a lowly 424 rushing attempts. These new stats would have put the Broncos heading into the 2012 season with an 11th-ranked rushing attack, with the Broncos ranking 20th in the league in rushing attempts.
Heading into the 2012 season with an 11th-ranked rushing attack isn't bad either, but my research isn't over yet as to the true value of the Broncos' rushing attack heading into the season. Now that the math is over, now comes the philosophy and scheme of how the Broncos did what they did last season and as to how it helped the running backs run better in open lanes.
Did the Broncos rushing attack rely on the one-cut zone blocking scheme for them to run their way to No. 1 last season? No. Or was it the power-blocking man-on-man scheme the reason for the Broncos' RB's having open lanes? Not even that either.
What can it be if it wasn't the two run-blocking schemes that helped the Broncos RB's succeed? It was the spread-option attack. It was the scheme and philosophy change that helped the Broncos' RB's run away on the ground.
How is this possible? Simple. Tim Tebow. Tebow often reads the DE or the outside contain defensive player on a inside hand-off. If the DE "bites" down the line on the dive, Tebow holds on to the ball and runs it himself. If the DE stays "home" for containment, as Tebow is a threat for the running game, then Tebow hands the ball off on the inside run to the RB.
The best game that shows the effectiveness of the spread option in terms of running the ball was against the Steelers, in which the Broncos rushed for 131 yards. These rushing yards were against the Steelers, who ranked eighth in the league in run defense, in the playoffs. How often did you see Lamarr Woodley and James Harrison rush the RB, playing the run? Hardly ever, as they stayed home to deal with Tim Tebow on the ground.
Because defense can't attack the spread option, RB's have open lanes all day against a defense that has to respect Tim Tebow ability to run with the ball.
Willis McGahee may not be an appropriate person to show for an example of how this offense increased their ability in the ground game, but if you look at the backup, Lance Ball, you can clearly see how the offense helped him on the ground last season.
Lance Ball had 158 rushing yards in 2010 in a conventional offense. In 2011, in a spread-option offense, Ball rushed for 402 yards. That's pretty impressive, if you ask me. Ball averaged 3.9 yards per carry in 2010 while averaging 4.2 yards per carry in 2011.
So now I ask the real question here: How good will the Broncos rushing attack be with their RB's now that Tim Tebow and the spread option is no longer in Denver?
I'm going to say this just because I need to say it. The Colts didn't suck at the run game because they didn't have the talent. The Colts sucked at the running game because Peyton Manning opted for the passing game. Don't get me wrong, what he did passing on any defense is saying something. Within the last couple of years of Manning playing on the Colts, they ranked near bottom nearly every season in rushing attempts.
Peyton Manning isn't the type of guy to audible into a running play. Don't tell me how the Broncos offensive coordinator is going to be calling run plays, as Manning didn't come into a team to be ran by a OC, since he himself is his own OC.
So there you have it. I really don't see the Broncos having anything anywhere near the type of rushing respect they had last season. Tim Tebow is no longer on the team. There will be a conventional offense in Denver versus the unconventional spread option. Lastly, Peyton Manning is also reason enough for why the Broncos aren't going to have a rushing attack next season.
So fact or myth: Is Peyton Manning on a Broncos team with a running game? No. That, my friends, is a complete myth, and I'd argue this against any NFL analyst who gets paid to say dumb things like Manning being the missing piece to a offense who was a beast on the ground last season.
One thing is evident: The Broncos passing attack will get better than how Tebow had it last season. I just don't see Manning's rushing attack being any better than Tebow and that spread-option offense.