C.J. Anderson, Broncos ground game runs away with win against Dolphins
By Johnny Hart
Ahead of his club’s matchup with the Miami Dolphins, Peyton Manning joked with the media during his Wednesday press conference that Denver Broncos could go the route of a snot-nosed, run the rock, ground attack Sunday.
“We might be an old school running game, so just be alert for that,” he said, somewhat tongue in cheek.
But the quip may have held more weight than expected.
After rushing just 10 times in last week’s 22-7 shellacking at the hands of the St. Louis Rams, Denver matched that effort it’s first two offensive drives against the Dolphins.
In total, the Broncos would rush the ball 35 times for 201 yards against Miami on the way to a 39-36 win.
“I think it was pretty much an emphasis this week, and I think we ran the ball much more efficiently,” head coach John Fox said after the game.
It stands as the team’s highest output on the ground this season, much on the back of second-year running back C.J. Anderson’s 167-yard performance.
But the breakout ground performance stands in stark contrast to the Broncos offensive effort a week ago, in which Manning, playing from behind, attempted 54 passes.
“… We got in a chunk-and-dunk game a week ago, and we needed to reel that back in. I think the staff and players did a great job responding,” Fox said. “Particularly our o-line, I think, was a pretty maligned group throughout the week, and I thought they responded very well.”
The Broncos offensive line unit faced a slew of criticism during the week, most notably from ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth, after sub-par performances in the last three games.
In The Locker Room with Nate Kreckman Tuesday, the former Broncos guard spoke harshly about the unit in which he once played.
“I know I'm going to get a bunch of texts and calls for this, but I'm sick. I just broke down three (Broncos) game films, and it's sickening,” Schlereth said.
Following Sunday’s match up with Miami, Denver’s offensive line will have given up just 12 sacks through 11 games, the lowest mark of any team in NFL.
But Schlereth believes that’s “100 percent” a result of Manning getting rid of the ball quickly.
"This is where stats lie … That's all Peyton Manning, 100 percent, getting rid of the football,” Schlereth said.
But Manning said he felt the Broncos linemen handled the criticism well throughout the week, and for a unit still developing it’s chemistry after a shake up in it’s starting line a few weeks from ago, they played well.
“It’ a focused group. It’s a group that is forming their chemistry the more they practice and play together. Today was definitely a big step,” Manning said. “I thought C.J. (Anderson) really complimented them well and Virgil (Green) getting back.
“Great game by those guys, and that is what we are looking for every week out of that group.”
After the game, Anderson, who rushed for a career high against the Dolphins, gave it up “big boys up front” making a statement in light of recent criticisms.
“They went out there first play of the game and said, ‘Hey, this is our game today.’ They made a statement, and I just took the right holes and ran. But you have to give it to all them up front,” Anderson said.
Guard Orlando Franklin said after the game it was important for the O-line to come out and “hold up” their teammates.
“We knew we had to come out here and do our job. That’s all it is. Do your job, and your team is going to be good,” Franklin said.
Julius Thomas: 'Can’t get down' when people criticize; 'We believe in each other'
Editor's note: Catch The Julius Thomas Show Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. in The Locker Room with Nate Kreckman throughout the football season. Tune in on 102.3 and 105.5 ESPN or listen online at ESPNDenver.com.
By Johnny Hart
The word of the week in Denver, at least regarding the Broncos, has been “panic.”
Certainly, the club has reiterated this week that there is no sense of “panic” within the walls at Dove Valley, rather a sense of urgency to improve after Sunday’s shellacking at the hands of the St. Louis Rams.
On the outside, however, there have certainly been harsh criticisms of the Broncos offensive output of late –– specifically focused on the offensive line.
Ealier this week, our ESPN NFL analyst Mark Schlereth used the phrases “… fire them all and start over,” “… I just want to throw up,” and “… They can’t block their way out of a wet paper sack” in reference to the big men of the Denver offense.
But Thursday, tight end Julius Thomas, in The Locker Room with Nate Kreckman for his weekly radio show, said the players “believe in each other,” and that they couldn’t afford to allow outside criticism to determine how they play.
“I think as any athlete, any member of a team, you’ve got to understand that there’s always going to be noise on the outside. There’s always going to be opinions, feelings, or whatever someone wants to express about how you do your job,” Thomas said.
“But we like to talk about what’s important to us. You can get over excited about people patting us on the back, and you also can’t get down on yourself when people have criticisms of you.”
Thomas said it’s imperative for he and his teammates to focus on doing his job, and that the key in the blocking game is to remain consistent.
“We’ve had great blocking games this year. So we just have to be consistent. And a lot of it comes down to so many little things,” Thomas said. “I mean, everybody looks and says, ‘Oh. Panic.’ But when you watch film, and you know it, and you’re sitting in those meetings, you see it’s just the little things and we’re close.
“We all got to do a better job to protect Peyton (Manning), get the run game going. And that’s something that we’re focused on and we’re dedicated to do it.”