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DENVER'S WAY
Peter King
September 03, 2001
No team in the NFL has mastered the running game as the Broncos have—and nobody else has matched their success
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September 03, 2001

Denver's Way

No team in the NFL has mastered the running game as the Broncos have—and nobody else has matched their success

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Everyone blocks. On another big play in that Seattle game last year, Smith lined up in the backfield and ran 50 yards for a touchdown—with Anderson making a key block "[The receivers] give it up for us," Anderson says, "so of course I'm giving it up for them."

"Look at any long run we've made the past few years," Shanahan says, "and I guarantee you a wide receiver has blocked somebody's ass off downfield. That's such a key to our running game."

There's one other facet to Denver's success. Everyone buys into what the coaching staff is selling: unselfishness. When Davis, Gary and Anderson are together, they act like college roommates (box, left). Who will play which role this year depends on Davis's health. He missed 24 games over the past two seasons with knee and shin injuries, and knee and hamstring pain plagued him in camp. If Davis works mostly as a pinch hitter, Shanahan will most likely wait until just before the opener to name Anderson or Gary the starter. The betting around camp was that the coach would settle on Gary, because—why else?—he's a slightly better blocker than Anderson. Yet the two are comparable in almost every other rushing skill, and last year no one ran harder than Anderson.

During training camp Gary was asked how he would feel if he were moved to fullback. "I'd hate it," he said, "but whatever's best for the team, I'll do."

That's what Shanahan likes to hear.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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