Head Coach Sean Payton has made his intentions to establish a punishing ground game clear during training camp, and from Javonte Williams' return to Samaje Perine's immediate impact to Jaleel McLaughlin's three touchdowns in this preseason, the performances of the Broncos' running backs have been an exciting storyline heading into the regular season.
In an article in The Athletic, writer Larry Holder selected one unit from each division that could help its team continue momentum from 2022 into the upcoming season, and the Broncos' ground game made the list as the AFC West's unit.
While the Broncos fell short of expectations in 2022, Holder pointed to their improved running metrics, including Expected Points Added, in the final weeks as reason for encouragement.
"The Broncos ranked third in EPA per rush at 0.08 in Weeks 14-18," Holder said. "… This is more about seeing a shred of success in a lost season and how this year's team will possess the tools to build a stable-to-good rushing attack."
Holder was also bullish on the additions of Head Coach Sean Payton and Perine as reasons to expect the Denver running game to excel in 2023.
"From 2017-2020, the Saints ranked No. 2 in the league in EPA per rush under Payton, trailing only the Ravens," Holder said. "Now in Denver, Payton will be determined to create a consistent and effective run game. … This can certainly start with the return of a healthy Javonte Williams at running back. Adding Samaje Perine as the No. 2 option should give Denver a reliable duo."
Along with adding Perine and bringing in running back depth, the Broncos addressed the offensive line by signing tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Ben Powers. The offensive line will also return several key players from injury, including tackle Garett Bolles and center Lloyd Cushenberry III, and look to set the tone in the ground game. Holder saw those investments as another promising sign for the Broncos' plans to establish the run.
"Then comes the offensive line overhaul with the additions of guard Ben Powers and right tackle Mike McGlinchey," Holder said. "And the unit will be guided by head coach-in-the-making Zach Strief in his first year as a primary offensive line coach."