Denver Broncos: Creating the Blueprint for Optimal Offense in 2014

Travis Wakeman@@traviswakeman10Featured Columnist IVJune 5, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 20:  Julius Thomas #80 of the Denver Broncos catches a touchdown pass in front of Antoine Bethea #41 of the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 20, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The numbers posted by the Denver Broncos' offense last season were like something you'd expect to see in one of the Madden video games.

The Broncos led the NFL in many major offensive categories. They put up 457 yards of offense per game, 40 yards more than the team that finished second.

Through the air, the team averaged 340 yards per game, and the 606 total points they scored set a new NFL single-season record.

Individually, Peyton Manning set new NFL single-season records by throwing for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns en route to being named the league's MVP.

On top of that, the Broncos had five different players record at least 10 touchdowns.

In other words, if you owned several members of the Broncos on your fantasy team last season, you did pretty well.

So how can the offense possibly top its 2013 performance? Believe it or not, they can.

It would be amazing to see the Broncos be an even more potent offense than they were a season ago, and replacing Eric Decker with Emmanuel Sanders at wide receiver can actually be considered an upgrade due to Sanders' athleticism and his ability as a deep threat.

In addition to being consistent with the things that worked last year, here is the rest of the blueprint to have even more success as an offense in 2014.

Establish a Physical Offensive Line

If there is one thing the Broncos should have learned following their 35-point defeat at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, it's that the more physical team generally wins.

This is something the entire team needs to change, but for the offense, it all starts up front.

Last year, the Denver offensive line was pretty much just asked to protect Peyton Manning. They did that, allowing a league-low 20 sacks.

In the Super Bowl, however, the Seahawks didn't seem to care. They pushed the offensive line around all game, and while they were only able to sack Manning once, they harassed him all game. He was clearly never comfortable.

When healthy, the Broncos easily have one of the best offensive lines in the league. By moving Orlando Franklin inside to guard, it gives the team more flexibility and will allow them to insert Chris Clark or third-round draft pick Michael Schofield into the starting lineup.

We all know they can protect Manning, but this year they need to adopt a new style and start pushing their opponents around.

Rely More on the Running Game

If the Broncos are able to establish a physical offensive line, they need to turn to their rushing attack more often. Those two items go hand-in-hand and will be key factors in how Denver operates from an offensive standpoint.

If Montee Ball is truly going to be the running back of the future, the Broncos need to turn to him as often as possible to keep teams guessing.

Offensive coordinator Adam Gase pinpointed Montee Ball as the #Broncos player who made the biggest strides over the course of the 2013. #NFL

— Pro Football Spot (@pfspot) May 30, 2014

The team had success running the ball last year, but many of their rushing attempts were plays that Manning checked down to.

It seemed like the team lined up in shotgun on nearly every offensive play at times, and just like any offseason, teams have had a chance to figure out what to look for.

This season, the Broncos need to call more run plays inside the huddle and line up under center, pounding the ball at opposing defenses.

Ball was not as effective as Knowshon Moreno in taking handoffs out of the shotgun formation, especially in goal-to-go situations. But as a straight-ahead runner, Ball can be extremely effective.

If the Broncos turn to more of a power running game, wearing opponents down in the process, it could make the no-huddle offense they like to run even more unstoppable in the later stages of games.

Shake Things Up

We all know what the Broncos like to do. Manning is a surgeon when it comes to picking apart defenses, and a lot of times, they'll win games on his instincts and ability alone.

But remember when Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said they were onto Manning's hand signals following the Super Bowl? Perhaps Sherman was blowing smoke, but the way his team performed, it's not hard to believe.

The team has had a year now to work with offensive coordinator Adam Gase. The Broncos will almost certainly continue to run an uptempo offense and watch in delight as Manning terrorizes defenses, but what about throwing some new material into the playbook?

Julius Thomas had a breakout season in 2013, and with his skills as a former basketball player, he is a guy the Broncos can establish even further as a matchup nightmare for defenses.

What about throwing in a screen pass to Thomas? If the Broncos were to put in a throwback screen to Thomas after drawing the action in one direction, a guard pulling out could help give Thomas some room to run, and that's probably not a scenario most defenses want to face.

The other guy is Sanders. Despite catching 161 passes in his four years with Pittsburgh, Sanders was never regarded as a top wide receiver. That should change this season, as he will thrive in Denver.

Playing the position once occupied by Decker, Sanders will be able to use the speed that Decker never possessed to get open and catch a lot of passes from No. 18.

If the Broncos can manage to put all of this together, the offense will be even scarier than it was last year and more league records will be in jeopardy.

Of course, having it lead to a win in the Super Bowl would be the icing on the cake.  


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