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Equal Opportunity Offense

Posted Sep 25, 2013

On Wednesday, quarterback Peyton Manning said that spreading the ball to a variety of targets has helped the Broncos offense become more efficient.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In positioning the Broncos atop the NFL in scoring offense, passing offense and total offense, Peyton Manning certainly hasn’t refrained from getting as many of his teammates involved as possible. 

Manning has spread the football to an array of offensive playmakers over the first three weeks of the season – completing passes to eight different players in the Broncos’ 37-21 victory over the Raiders on Monday night – and it’s an open system of distribution that Manning said is helping the Broncos offense operate effectively.

“I think it helps,” Manning said on Wednesday. “I can’t tell you what it does to a defense but I know it helps all the offensive players. When everybody on any given play thinks that the ball might coming to them, you just run better routes.”

His league-leading 12 touchdown passes have been hauled in by five different receiving targets – Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, Julius Thomas and Andre Caldwell.

It’s the type of wide dispersion that Manning noted helps maximize the efficiency of his receivers, both individually and collectively.

“On certain plays, if you’re only throwing to the same guy every single time, there’s four guys that might not be running full speed routes,” he said. “But our distribution has been pretty good as far as spreading the ball around so that’s why we have guys getting open because all five guys think they might get the ball on this play. That can put pressure on a defense I would think.”

The omnipresent possibility of being targeted by Manning keeps players on their toes and locked into their assignments on every play.

Just ask one of his receivers.

“We just talk at meetings about being in the right spot,” Decker said. “Any given play—it doesn’t matter which read you may be on that play—he might come to you. You run every route to win and you expect the ball in the play.”

It’s the type of uniformed passing game participation that has already enabled Demaryius Thomas to eclipse 300 receiving yards, Decker to surpass 250, and both Welker and Julius Thomas to each come within 10 yards of exceeding 200.

And it’s also the type of involvement that has elevated their scoring — and bolstered their confidence to continue finding the end zone.

“We expect to go out there and score every time we’re on the field,” Welker said. “That’s just the way we feel and the way we go out there and attack. Anything short of that is a failure to us. So we expect to go out there and score points and do our jobs.”

Scoring points could be especially important against an Eagles team that ranks second in the NFL in total offense at 461.7 yards per game.

Manning was quick to underline the explosive capability of the Eagles, acknowledging that the Broncos offense can make life easier for its defensive counterparts by continuing to score at its prolific pace.

“We’re very aware of the kind of challenge our defense is facing playing against (QB) Michael Vick, (RB LeSean) McCoy, (WR DeSean) Jackson, all their weapons,” Manning said. “We have got to be on our game from an offensive standpoint. Protecting the ball, scoring when we have the opportunities because you just can’t give Michael Vick a short field or give McCoy a short field. We have to help out our defense just like our defense has to help us out, as well.”

“They’re a very explosive team and they can score at any time,” Welker added. “They have a lot of guys that are big play makers and we have to be on top of everything that we do and make sure that we’re doing our jobs and staying consistent with it.”

It’s something the Broncos have done through three games – and, as a result of the constant involvement of a full handful of offensive options – it’s something that they are becoming more confident about continuing to achieve. 

“I think we believe we can score on every possession and that’s our mentality,” Decker said. “It’s not, ‘What are they doing?’ It’s ‘What can we do?’ We control ourselves; we can’t control what they can do. And if we can execute at a high level every down, every series, every quarter we know we will be just fine. And we know we can score points.”