This is in large part due to the zone-blocking scheme the Broncos have employed for years, but also because of a host of mostly unheard of backs such as Terrell Davis, Mike Anderson, Clinton Portis, Reuben Droughns, Olandis Gary, and Tatum Bell. Well, they were unheard of until they entered the spotlight via Mile High Stadium.
But lately, the Broncos' ground game has been...grounded.
They have produced only one 100-yard rusher in the past 11 games. Seriously. Granted Shanahan's job is still safe in Denver as most of the debacle can be chalked up to injuries, But considering that the Broncos are likely to go without a 1,000-yard rusher this year, things are looking bleak for a now 4-4 team that started off hot.
Cutler led the league in touchdown passes for the first few weeks, and even though the Broncos defense looked terrible most thought that Cutler's play could hold off the opposition until the Denver defense could find its form. And when that happened, look out AFC.
Well that never happened and Denver looks more like a goat than the fierce bucking Broncos of old. And as the articulate Ron White once said, "you can't ride home on a bowl of goat...I've always said that."
If the Broncos don't get more consistent play from Cutler (and I don't mean consistently throwing interceptions) and find a little running back support from deep within it's practice squad, they won't be riding into the Orange Crush Sunset...they'll be packing up the goat sooner than expected.
Michael Pittman (neck) and Andre Hall (hand) are done for the season. Pittman's injury doesn't appear to be career ending as once suspected, but that doesn't help for the remainder of this season.
That leaves the Broncos' running game square on the shoulders of Selvin Young, in only his second season, but who currently has a strained groin. Rookie Ryan Torain looked unimpressive last week carrying the ball three times for 1 yard. Rookie fullback Peyton Hillis played a principle role in the offense this week...and since no one has heard of him, maybe he holds similar promise to the unknown heroes of the past.
The Miami Dolphins limited the Denver Broncos running game to 14 yards on 12 carries; its worst performance in 36 years.
The Broncos play the struggling Browns this week. Browns coach Romeo Crennel insisted that the Broncos running game still poses a problem. For who? Denver or the Browns? Maybe the answer is both.
Nevertheless, the Broncos need to get healthy, or good, or both, very quickly. Otherwise riding home on a bowl of goat seems like a real possibility.