The postgame stat sheet showed that the Broncos rushed for 47 yards on 18 carries in Sunday’s loss to the Colts at INVESCO Field at Mile High. When analyzing the game film of the team’s first home loss of the 2010 season, Head Coach Josh McDaniels saw squandered chances for the offense to bump up its 2.6 yards per carry average.
“We had opportunities yesterday in the running game that we did not take advantage of — no question about it,” McDaniels said Monday morning. “That is not aimed at one specific player. I have said it a million times that your ability to run the ball effectively is a combination of a lot of people doing their job the right way.”
The Broncos started out hoping to run the ball against the Colts, who came into the game with the league’s worst run defense. Kyle Orton handed off to Laurence Maroney — who made his team debut Sunday — nine times in the first half, including three times from the 1-yard line after the Broncos earned a first-and-goal opportunity in the second quarter.
But the offense couldn’t crack the end zone on any of the attempts — resulting in one of three possessions in which the Broncos found the red zone and failed to come up with any points — and Maroney averaged just 1.7 yards per carry in the half.
As the second half progressed with the Broncos attempting to close their deficit, the offense largely relied on the pass. In all, Orton threw the ball 57 times, finishing with a career-high 476 passing yards.
Maroney, who was inactive last week with an injury but got the start with Knowshon Moreno out, said he felt good in his first action of the 2010 season. The sixth-year running back said he also saw plenty of room for improvement even before watching the game film himself.
“I’ve just got to be more patient,” said Maroney, who helped out in the passing game with a pair of catches for 40 yards. “The running game is definitely going to be better. I promise you that.”
Currently the Broncos rank first in the NFL in passing yards per game, but their 67 yards per game on the ground ranks them No. 30 out of the league’s 32 squads.
McDaniels said he’s finding a positive in the fact that the Broncos have cut down on negative runs this season, meaning the offensive linemen are not allowing penetration into the backfield. They had just one negative rush against the Colts.
The head coach said there are subtle improvements to be made across the board, whether it’s the running backs recognizing the hole, linemen staying on blocks or receivers getting blocks downfield.
When analyzing the game film, McDaniels said there are always plays that jump out that could’ve yielded what he called “hidden yardage.” Going forward, he remains optimistic that the team’s rushing attack is headed in the right direction.
“Once we start finishing plays as well as we start them,” McDaniels said, “I think our running game will be much improved.”