The Denver Broncos used a powerful running game to defeat the Oakland Raiders Sunday. The Broncos racked up 299 yards on the ground, with 163 of them coming from running back Willis McGahee. Quarterback Tim Tebow also had a 100-yard day, running for 118 yards, as Tebow and McGahee became the just the fifth quarterback-running back duo in NFL history to each run for 100 yards in the same game.
But while McGahee and Tebow accumulated the stats, Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway said that the real praise goes to the offensive line. On ‘Elway Live‘ Tuesday, Elway told Broncos TV’s Chris Hall that all the success on offense, including with the running game, starts with the big boys up front.
“I think anytime you’re successful on the offensive side it’s all tied to the offensive line,” Elway said. “Those guys are really the unsung heroes and most games are won in the trenches. They did a tremendous job on a very good defensive line. It opened those holes and Tim and Willis took it from there and got the yardage in the secondary.”
Elway said that the offensive line went into Sunday’s game with a chip on their shoulder, due to their performance in the Broncos Week 1 matchup against Oakland. In that game, Denver rushed for a season-low 38 yards while the quarterback was sacked five times.
“I think that the offensive line this week took an extra meaning into this, especially with the way we played against the Raiders the first week — it wasn’t our best performance in the offensive line,” Elway said. “So I think they took it to heart and set their minds to the fact that they were going to go out and win the line of scrimmage this week. And they really did.”
The running game’s success wasn’t limited to Sunday’s game. As a team, the Broncos have rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the last five games as the offensive line continues to build cohesion with themselves among themselves and Offensive Line Coach Dave Magazu.
In fact, the same five linemen — from right-to-left, Ryan Clady, Zane Beadles, J.D. Walton, Chris Kuper and Orlando Franklin — have started all eight games the Broncos have played this year. Elway thinks that continuity has been key in keeping the run game going even with a somewhat different running system in place with the mobile Tebow behind center.
“I think number one it is experience together. They’ve been in the same spot now for 8 weeks,” Elway said. “Even though the running game looked tremendously different, the key thing was we executed it better. I think that comes from the offensive line getting more comfortable with it, having more reps in practice, and seeing different looks in the game and being able to adjust then.”
To hear more from Elway, including about how the running game opens up the passing game, Tim Tebow and Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen and how he imprints his personality on the defense, listen to the ‘Elway Live’ podcast here.
If you’ve missed a show and want to hear what Elway had to stay, go to www.DenverBroncos.com/ElwayLive.