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Mason's Mailbag: Keeping the ground game as a strength

Posted Oct 7, 2017

Also, some ideas about how the league's 100th season could be commemorated in 2019.

You can tweet questions to me with the hashtag #AskMase or use the submission form to your right (if you're viewing on a standard browser) or at the bottom of the page if you're on the mobile site.

It's too early to tell. During his press conference Wednesday afternoon before the Broncos scattered for the bye weekend, Trevor Siemian referred to the "small sample size" on multiple occasions, which is crucial in looking at things like red-zone offense and the fourth-quarter scoring deficit.

You can look to individual plays and circumstances that can be corrected -- penalties, turnovers, etc. These are all correctable mistakes. If they continue, they become a trend. Right now, it's too early to determine whether this will be an ongoing problem.

Now that Booker is healthy, and with the talent stockpile at RB, do you think that the Broncos might seek to trade one of their RBs to try and upgrade depth at another position? If not, how do they split up the carries among them all?

-- Doug Holmes

I don't see a trade there happening, for these reasons:

1. The natural attrition of running back means you are likely to deal with an injury -- or injuries -- to players in the position group at some point the rest of the way. The depth that seems like a luxury now could become essential later on; just look at recent seasons such as 2014 and 2016 for evidence.

2. The offense's flow often stems from the ground game, which can help bring other areas of the attack along. It might not be the wisest move to deplete this area of strength, particularly when it can help continue to open things up for the passing game in the final 12 games of the regular season (and, the Broncos hope, for the postseason beyond that).

As for how they split the carries among the group, I would expect C.J. Anderson should continue to be the primary back; in the parlance of Head Coach Vance Joseph, he's the "bell cow" for a reason. The return of Devontae Booker should ensure that Anderson doesn't have to be overworked; perhaps Anderson settles in the range of 18-22 touches per game (he had 28 touches in Week 2 and 24 in Week 4). Charles has averaged nine touches per game; this workload seems perfect for him, and his production at his pace reflects that.

Why doesn't the NFL have a midseason break so that everyone has a week off at the same time rather then bye weeks? Or at least have half the league off one week and the other half the next so that everyone gets their bye week close to the same time?

-- Don Evans

If everyone had their bye at the same time, then you have a week without football. The television networks would have a week with no games. Given the money at stake with television contracts, this is not an acceptable solution.

Even having half the league off one week would dilute the product and the number of available games to an unacceptable level for CBS and FOX, who have the contracts for games sent around the country on a regional basis each Sunday afternoon during the regular season.

I've heard a few mentions of this being the NFL's 98th season. Of course, that means in two years, it's the 100th season. What do you hope the league does to promote this special occasion?

-- Tom Martin

I've mentioned in the past that I'd like to see a once-a-decade Hall of Fame class of 17 players to ease the perpetual backlog of qualified candidates (17 was the size of the original Hall of Fame class in 1963). The 2019 season would represent a perfect opportunity for this.

But throughout the season, I'd like to see a celebration of the sport's history. On a team-by-team basis, I would love to see each team bring back its old uniforms. To do this right, the NFL would have to dump the one-helmet rule that has been in place since 2012. (This has been a topic in previous mailbags, which you can read here and here; I would prefer not to belabor the point on this subject.)

Obviously, the league has its standards and practices on uniforms that have been in place. But the 100th season needs to be special -- truly a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of the sport. Dusting off throwback uniforms to represent various eras of the sport would give the year a distinct flavor.

For example, the Broncos face the Detroit Lions at in Denver in 2019. How cool would it be to see both teams wear uniforms that look like the ones that they wore when they met in the 1967 preseason, when the Broncos became the first AFL team to defeat an NFL team?

There are other examples on the 2019 slate. For a Titans-Broncos game, both teams could wear the uniforms they wore in the 1960s, re-enacting an Oilers-Broncos game from that time period. A Broncos-at-Vikings game could see a recreation of a 1978 "Monday Night Football" game that went to overtime in which the Broncos wore orange pants with white jerseys and the classic "D" logo on the helmets. The possibilities are limitless. Almost every game on the schedule could be used to commemorate a specific era or time in the NFL's 100-season history. Even the in-game music could go along with it; a few years ago, the Bucs would play 1970s music when they were allowed to wear old-school throwbacks to accentuate the retro vibe.

The 2019 season has the potential to be a truly special celebration for the league and its fans, and I hope it is maximized.

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The analysis, opinion and speculation in this story represents that of the author, gathered through research and reporting, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Denver Broncos organization.

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