The Denver Broncos wanted to show a more aggressive offense on Monday against the Los Angeles Chargers in Vance Joseph’s head coaching debut.
Denver suffered through offensive woes in 2016, but this season things appear to be different — especially with the ground game.
Running back C.J. Anderson returned Monday after missing half of the 2016 season due to a torn meniscus.
He’s back in Mike McCoy’s power-gap system, an offensive scheme in which he can have great success due to his skill set, great balance, and vision. Anderson should be more comfortable in this offense, and he certainly looked that way in the season opener.
“Very pleased. Our goal from the spring, since (offensive coordinator) Mike (McCoy) came in was to develop the running game. You can see it,” Joseph said after Monday’s 24-21 win over the Chargers.
Anderson led the way for the Broncos on the ground, with 20 carries for 81 yards. Thirteen of those 20 carries came in the first half with some of the other seven carries coming as the Broncos tried to run out the clock.
It’s only the seventh time in his pro career that Anderson has reached the 20-carry mark and the first since the 2015 postseason run to a Super Bowl 50 victory.
Behind Anderson, the Broncos used Jamaal Charles to attack the Chargers defense as the change-of-pace back, who ran with an element of danger because of his speed and field-flipping ability.
After only appearing in one preseason game, Charles carried the ball 10 times for the Broncos on Monday night. It was the first time he’s received double-digit carries since Week 5 of the 2015 season.
Charles was targeted once by quarterback Trevor Siemian, but that pass went incomplete.
The biggest gaffe for Charles came around the midway point of the fourth quarter.
With 7:22 left in the game, Charles rushed around the right end and gained four yards to the Denver 46-yard line, where he had the ball pulled from his clutches. It was recovered by Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward and returned to the Broncos 38-yard line.
One play later, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers hit wide receiver Travis Benjamin for a long touchdown pass to bring the game within three points, 24-21.
That mistake nearly cost the Broncos the game, but it’s one we should see the seasoned veteran clean up going forward. Charles didn’t have a history of being a fumbler, and there’s no reason to think he’ll start at this point in his career.
The Broncos rushing attack combined for 140 yards on the ground Monday night. Anderson’s 81 rushing yards was the sixth-highest total in Week 1 of the 2017 season.
If they can keep up this type of 1-2 punch, this offense is going to be set up to succeed in 2017.
“it’s happening right now with C.J. (Anderson) and Jamaal (Charles), that one-two punch,” Joseph said. “With Trevor (Siemian), he gained, I think, 20 yards on the ground. I’m very pleased with the run game.” Joseph said.
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