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Mile High Morning: OC Joe Lombardi evaluates run-game performance through two weeks

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The Broncos' rushing attack has had its share of highlights during a two-game home stand to open the season, from starting running back Javonte Williams' efficient return to the field against the Raiders in Week 1 to undrafted rookie running back Jaleel McLaughlin's untouched rumble to the end zone against the Commanders in Week 2.

Those two backs, along with veteran Samaje Perine, have helped Denver improve to the best offense in the league in points per possession, though the Broncos' offense has taken a more pass-oriented approach in the second halves of games. Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi said Wednesday that he saw plenty of promising signs from his running game early, but finding a rhythm running the ball was difficult in the second half.

"I think we were running the ball efficiently early," Lombardi said. "When you go three-and-out a few times in a row, there's no rhythm. You're planning on getting into some runs, and you're not converting on third down, so you're punting. You don't get the chance to get in rhythm."

Lombardi also added that the offense's reliance on the passing game was a byproduct of the game situations in the second half and not part of the initial plan.

"Just the way that game script went, we ended up being down and having to throw," Lombardi said. "I don't think it was anything planned. It was just situational. When you're not getting first downs, you don't have a lot of plays to establish it. Then, you're down a couple scores and you have to get going. It's certainly not something we're trying to do or planning to do. It's just the way the game script went."

Head Coach Sean Payton also downplayed the significance of the running game's statistical performances to start the season because of the small sample size of just two games. Payton said he doesn't evaluate the league-wide statistics until later in the season.

"[We don't put them up] until Week 4 or Week 5," Payton said. "Week 1 [we had] six possessions, which was unique. Then, we get into where we're throwing the ball late in that game. Generally speaking, if you want to look at a rushing correlation — a lot of times with the third-down numbers, you get north of 40 or 50 percent, you have more downs and you have more rushing attempts. Those would be some early indicators."

Denver could have a prime opportunity to get its ground game going on Sunday against Miami, which ranks 28th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game.

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