The Kansas City Chiefs exploded for a 42-27 win over the defending champion New England Patriots in an NFL season opener that shocked fans around the league. With several new additions to his offense, Chiefs “game manager” quarterback Alex Smith utilized his new players and looked Tom Brady-esque, going 28 of 35 for 368 yards and four touchdowns in the win.
With many changes also coming to the Denver Broncos offense during the offseason, could a more experienced Trevor Siemian see a similar result?
“The effectiveness of your quarterback, for Denver, to me is about the running game,” Brian Billick said in an interview on Mornings at 5280’ with Nate Lundy, Shawn Drotar, and TJ Carpenter. “Can you enhance the running game?”
The Broncos, last season, had a stagnant running game, averaging only 3.6 yards per attempt and 92.8 yards per game. The offense overall was one of the worst in the league, ranked 27th in time of possession per game (29:03), 27th in yards per game (323.1) and 26th in points (20.8).
“We know you’re going to play good defense. If you run the ball better, that’s going to go hand-in-hand, into the hand of a quarterback like Trevor Siemian,” said Billick.
“I’ll use the analogy to an Alex Smith, who is a ‘game manager,’ right? Trevor Siemian is a game manager,” said Billick when asked what he would be looking for out of Trevor Siemian. “To be the game manager, you have to play great defense and run the ball. If you have to throw the ball 40 times a game, that’s not a game manager. Can Trevor Siemian step up to that on a consistent basis? Well, we’ll find out, or we won’t need to find out if they can run the ball better.”
Kansas City was able to open up the passing game for their “game manager” by effectively running the football. Of their 537 total yards, 185 came on the ground; Kansas City averaged an impressive 6.9 yards per carry on 27 attempts in the win over New England. In 2016, they averaged 4.2 yards per carry led by the three-pronged attack of Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West and Tyreek Hill. On Thursday, rookie Kareem Hunt burst onto the NFL scene with an 8.7 yards per carry average on his first 17 carries. West added 21 yards on his lone carry.
Billick believes Denver must mirror this success in the running game.
“You’ve got the defense in Denver,” he said. “If you can get the running game cranked up, Trevor can be a 30-throw guy per game, not a 40-throw guy.”
Denver has its own speedy rookie in De’Angelo Henderson, who could see increased playing time behind veterans C.J. Anderson and former Chief Jamaal Charles as Devontae Booker continues to heal a broken wrist. Anderson and Charles figure to be the feature backs, but Henderson could be a wild card for Siemian in the same way Hunt was for Smith on Thursday.
Listen to the full interview with Billick, including his complete analysis of Kansas City’s win, in the podcast below.
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