Put those torches down, Broncos fans.
Despite an impressive come from behind win at Tennessee last week, the word of the week for the Broncos has been "run." Actually, add two more words to that: "lack of."
Yes, the Broncos rushing attack has been inept up to this point. Kyle Orton has had to bail his team out with his arm every week. As the season wears on, the running game becomes more important. Everyone knows that and Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels has admitted that the Broncos offense needs to be brought back into balance ASAP.
That said, you'd think the sky was falling if you read Broncos fans' comments on message boards and articles all over the country. According to them, the Broncos are doomed and McDaniels has brought this on himself and should be fired immediately (wow, really? Fire your coach after a win? OK, Al Davis).
Knowshon Moreno has now become "No Show" Moreno because he keeps missing practices. The same fans who were complaining about Orton are now heaping praise upon him for bailing his team out. They're clawing for Tebow even though he isn't really suited to playing a halfback role.
Deep breath, fans.
The Broncos running attack CAN get fixed. Whether or not it WILL is up to a few different circumstances:
1. Will the offensive line continue to gel?
It's been tough for the Broncos to field a cohesive unit with all the injuries that have been plaguing them. Chris Kuper has missed time as well as Ryan Harris and Ryan Clady. Take three out the starting five out for a basketball team and of course issues will be encountered. Same goes with an NFL offensive line.
Orton has also been getting hit a lot, and the continued production in the passing game relies on a cohesive offensive line. If Orton goes down—all bets are off for the rest of the season.
With the offensive line slowly coming back around, the Broncos stand to be in relatively good shape in November and December, when teams make their playoff push. If the Broncos' offensive line woes are opposite of last year (strong start, weak finish) they stand in good position to make a playoff push and avoid a late season collapse once again.
2. Can Laurence Maroney be the guy at halfback?
If Maroney's injuries continue to plague him throughout the year (which right now would be a legit possibility), it may fall to Laurence Maroney to carry the rock the rest of the season . While Maroney's time in New England is generally considered a disappointment, there was once a time that he was touted as the next great "big" back in the NFL. The offense found ways to utilize his talents and he was relatively productive.
His offensive coordinator at that time? Josh McDaniels. If there is one coach in the entire National Football League than can juice everything out of Maroney—McDaniels is the one who can do it.
In the best case scenario, he becomes another passing weapon out of the backfield whilst also being able to run the ball down opponents' throats.
3. What about Corell Buckhalter?
Of course, the wild card here is Correll Buckhalter. Injuries have plagued him as well. Now that he is healthy, 49 yards on 27 carries will not cut the mustard. He showed flashes last year, but can the man be a four down back?
Buckhalter can be a decent receiving threat as well, but he is not a back that can bust it up the middle that is such a key part of McDaniels' offensive scheme. What you're more likely to see is Moreno/Maroney (try saying that ten times fast) on first and second down with Buckhalter in to finish the job on third and short.
4. Is the answer on another team?
Of course, this is all speculation. DeAngelo Williams is being used as trade bait by Carolina and Julius Jones is looking for work after being released by the Seahawks after they acquired Marshawn Lynch from the Buffalo Bills. Perhaps even Tashard Choice from Dallas?
The Broncos have not been afraid to make bold moves in the past and no one should put it past them to bring someone else from the outside in. The Broncos are thin in draft picks after moving up to get Tim Tebow, but that doesn't mean someone can't get moved.
Now, I am not a NFL head coach or general manager, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but if I were calling the shots, I would bring someone else in and use Buckhalter as trade bait. Despite what some fans may think, McDaniels is not so stupid as to think he can get through an entire 16 game season without a semblance of a rushing attack.
In a somehow wide open AFC West, the Broncos must realize they can win the division. While many expect the Chargers to come on strong as they usually do, the Chiefs holding a two game lead in the division is the wild card. The Broncos had a big lead last year and we all know how that turned out.
Denver and McDaniels know the division is there for the taking and that getting their run game going is key to their chances.
Don't worry Broncos fans. To quote Harvey Dent in "The Dark Knight," "The night is darkest just before the dawn."
The dawn is coming.
Follow Kris Burke on Twitter @KBurkeNFL. Kris Burke is also the Denver Broncos Fan Voice at www.nfltouchdown.com
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