Explosive runs have been far more rare for the Broncos than they would like this season.
Just three of 330 carries have covered more than 20 yards, giving them a rate of one every 110 attempts that is the second-lowest in the league.
They have been considerably more successful at getting gains of 10 or more yards, but their rate of one double-digit carry every 9.43 attempts is still just 18th in the league -- hardly where the Broncos hoped to be.
That's what made their lone touchdown drive against Jacksonville so promising -- and also the high ankle sprain suffered by Kapri Bibbs so disappointing. On that second-quarter drive, the Broncos got a glimpse of how their ground game can -- and should -- work.
Start with Bibbs' 24-yard gain to the right side.
It's set up by a bit of misdirection from tight end Jeff Heuerman. He motions into alignment outside of right tackle Donald Stephenson, but instead of going outside, Heuerman turns inside on Dante Fowler Jr., freeing Stephenson and Michael Schofield to reach the second level, where they take care of Telvin Smith and Jonathan Cyprien, respectively.
(By the way, I love the little fist pump from Heuerman. He knows he nailed this play, and hopefully this will give him more confidence going forward.)
The Broncos' predilection for play-action bootlegs and counter plays, along with Paxton Lynch's mobility, also plays a role. Because Lynch is a threat in space, Paul Posluszny stops in his tracks as Lynch prepares to execute the handoff. Posluszny must "stay at home," even as the play flows in the opposite direction; this takes him out of the play and leaves the one-on-ones to the right in front of Bibbs. All he has to do is cut back inside of Schofield and Stephenson, and he's off to the races.
"It comes down to just executing," Bibbs said Monday.
"When it comes to offense, in the one that we do have, everyone has to be on point at all times -- and everyone has to be on the same page. If one person is out of whack, then it knocks the whole play off."
But the running back's individual effort and ability to read the play is relevant, as evidenced later in the posession.
On Bibbs' second double-digit run of the drive, he picks up 13 yards thanks to his ability to avoid the one free man -- Jaguars LB Paul Posluszny, who stepped away from a diving Matt Paradis at the second level. Bibbs reads the play perfectly as he receives the toss sweep; instead of attempting to cut back and run to the right of Posluszny, where a gap had formed, he took the narrower alley with two blockers. A.J. Derby made the seal to the left; Russell Okung sealed the right, and Bibbs sprinted through to move the Broncos into a goal-to-go situation.
These plays can happen without Bibbs, but it will be up to Devontae Booker, Juwan Thompson and Justin Forsett to read their blocks as they come, be decisive when the crease forms and, when necessary, make a defender miss.