For the lines, they are a changin’.
The Broncos’ 3-4 defensive linemen and linebackers have morphed into The Magnificent 7 bulwark. And the offense is propounding Run AC/DB.
In four games behind a new, improved offensive line, C.J. Anderson, Jamaal Charles, De'Angelo Henderson and now Devontae Booker primarily are responsible for 572 rushing yards (143-yard average), which places the Broncos among the NFL elite.
On defense, the Broncos’ front has held runners to only 203 yards – 50.75 per game. The Broncos probably will be No. 1 in the league approaching their bye week.
Last season the Broncos finished 27th in the run game (88.3 yards per game) and 28th against the run (130.3).
For the times, they are a changin’, Bob Dylan.
This is the offense, and the defense, the Broncos have been pursuing for years. A No-Rush Zone to go with the No-Fly Zone, a running game to consume time and win close games.
The Broncos didn’t dominate the Raiders on Sunday, but they ran them down and shut them up. Boring, maybe, and close, for sure, but the Broncos have won three in a row at home with a style Lombardi and Kubiak would admire.
Run, and stop the runners.
Rodin’s Thinker should consider: Four of the NFL’s prime-stake running have been limited to a cumulative total of fewer than 100 yards.
In the opener the Chargers’ Melvin Gordon had 18 carries for 54 yards. San Diego ended up with a measly 64 yards on 22 rushing attempts.
Then the Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott, the league’s premier rusher as a rookie, flew into Denver, and crawled out after running (?) nine times for eight yards. Eight! Dallas finished with 40 rushing yards, most of them by quarterback Dak Prescott.
In Buffalo, where the Broncos did lose, LeSean McCoy produced a shady effort – 14 rushes for 21 yards – a 1.5-yard average. The Broncos’ defense rationed out just 75 yards on the grass.
And, on Sunday, Marshawn Lynch, who has returned to the NFL and gone home to Oakland, arrived to challenged defensive ends Derek Wolfe and Adam Gotsis, and nose tackle Domata Peko Sr., and linebackers Von Miller, Brandon Marshall, Todd Davis and Shaq Barrett.
Beast Mode was transformed into Least Mode.
He managed 432 ... inches while being stuffed on nine tries.
The Raiders got 24 yards rushing, while the Broncos had almost six times as many (143).
The Magnificent 7 is ready and waiting for the Chiefs’ Kareem “”Of the Crop’’ Hunt in several weeks.
The Broncos are big in the trenches and twisting like wrenches.
Jack Del Rio, the Broncos’ former defensive coordinator, was lamenting his offense’s effort. “”Players, coaches, scheme, (play) calling – it all adds up ... The inability to run the ball with our physical group is the most disappointing.’’
Broncos coach Vance Joseph piled praised on his team’s ability to run, run, run and constrain the rush, rush, rush. “We rushed for (143) yards, so absolutely pleased with the entire offense as running the football.’’
On the other side, “Again, our run defense has been stout the entire year. I have been very proud of how these guys have played the run. With a back like that and offensive line like that, that’s really special.’’
And that’s that.
Barrett said he wasn’t sure what the Raiders’ longest run was, but "I’m pretty sure it wasn’t very long if they only had 24 yards.’’
The longest run gain for Oakland was 21 feet.
Anderson had a 40-yard run, and Charles a 16-yarder for the Broncos. They have been come together like peanut butter and jelly.
"Keep grinding, trust your boys up front and things will happen. That’s what happened (Sunday),’’ Anderson said.
His idol, Terrell Davis, must be proud, and the Broncos’ old Orange Crush defense, returning soon for a reunion, must be pleased.
With 7:13 remaining in the third quarter, the Broncos, ahead only by six, started a possession at the Raiders’ 31. There was only one wideout as lineman Donald Stephenson reported in as an eligible receiver. There is no play in the book for Stephenson to catch anything.
The Broncos were going to run, and challenged the Raiders to respond.
The game was decided at the end by a Justin Simmons interception.
The Broncos and 76,909 observers had felt the rush of exhilaration.