Knighton: Stuffing Jamaal Charles key for Broncos win over Chiefs
By Johnny Hart
It’s no secret limiting a team’s best offensive player is usually key to pulling out a victory in the NFL.
But shutting down Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is less about slowing down one of the NFL’s top-tier runners, and more about forcing the hand of quarterback Alex Smith.
Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said as much this week in The Locker Room with Nate Kreckman for Monday Night Madness, indicating Denver needs to make Kansas City throw the ball.
“We have to stop Jamaal Charles from getting things rolling. I think that’s what made Oakland successful against them (last week),” Knighton said. “They built a lead, so it forced Kansas City to have to throw the ball. And sometimes when a team has to throw the ball, they kind of forget about their money guys.”
Charles certainly has earned his $9.6 million salary in 2014, ranking among the league’s Top 10 in rushing yards (772), yards per attempt (5.1), yards per game (77.2), rushing touchdowns (8), and combined rushing/receiving touchdowns (11).
But during the first Chiefs/Broncos matchup in Week 2, Charles was knocked out of the game early.
Denver would go on to win 24-17 after forcing Smith into a season-high 42 passing attempts.
“We’ll just have to get after (Smith) and force him to beat us and not Jamaal Charles,” Knighton said, “because if Jamaal Charles is getting 30 to 40 touches, most of the time you’re losing.”
All four of Kansas City’s losses have come when Smith throws the ball more than 30 times.
But Smith doesn’t often make mental errors, throwing fewer interceptions per attempt (1.2 percent) than all NFL quarterbacks except Aaron Rodgers.
“One thing about him is that he doesn’t want to make mistakes. He doesn’t want to turn the ball over,” Knighton said. “If he doesn’t have a throw, he’s going to run or he’ll throw it away. He’s not going to throw you the ball.”
In any scenario, however, Sunday should be a fun matchup for Knighton, who said he loves playing the Chiefs in Kansas City, calling Arrowhead Stadium a “hostile environment.”
“They can’t wait for us to get there. It’s loud. They’re wearing their all-red. It’s a rivalry,” Knighton said. “It’s one of the biggest rivalries in NFL history, so I look forward to it. I love being a part of it.”
C.J. Anderson, Broncos ground game runs away with win against Dolphins
By Johnny Hart
Ahead of his club’s matchup with the Miami Dolphins, Peyton Manning joked with the media during his Wednesday press conference that Denver Broncos could go the route of a snot-nosed, run the rock, ground attack Sunday.
“We might be an old school running game, so just be alert for that,” he said, somewhat tongue in cheek.
But the quip may have held more weight than expected.
After rushing just 10 times in last week’s 22-7 shellacking at the hands of the St. Louis Rams, Denver matched that effort it’s first two offensive drives against the Dolphins.
In total, the Broncos would rush the ball 35 times for 201 yards against Miami on the way to a 39-36 win.
“I think it was pretty much an emphasis this week, and I think we ran the ball much more efficiently,” head coach John Fox said after the game.
It stands as the team’s highest output on the ground this season, much on the back of second-year running back C.J. Anderson’s 167-yard performance.
But the breakout ground performance stands in stark contrast to the Broncos offensive effort a week ago, in which Manning, playing from behind, attempted 54 passes.
“… We got in a chunk-and-dunk game a week ago, and we needed to reel that back in. I think the staff and players did a great job responding,” Fox said. “Particularly our o-line, I think, was a pretty maligned group throughout the week, and I thought they responded very well.”
The Broncos offensive line unit faced a slew of criticism during the week, most notably from ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth, after sub-par performances in the last three games.
In The Locker Room with Nate Kreckman Tuesday, the former Broncos guard spoke harshly about the unit in which he once played.
“I know I'm going to get a bunch of texts and calls for this, but I'm sick. I just broke down three (Broncos) game films, and it's sickening,” Schlereth said.
Following Sunday’s match up with Miami, Denver’s offensive line will have given up just 12 sacks through 11 games, the lowest mark of any team in NFL.
But Schlereth believes that’s “100 percent” a result of Manning getting rid of the ball quickly.
"This is where stats lie … That's all Peyton Manning, 100 percent, getting rid of the football,” Schlereth said.
But Manning said he felt the Broncos linemen handled the criticism well throughout the week, and for a unit still developing it’s chemistry after a shake up in it’s starting line a few weeks from ago, they played well.
“It’ a focused group. It’s a group that is forming their chemistry the more they practice and play together. Today was definitely a big step,” Manning said. “I thought C.J. (Anderson) really complimented them well and Virgil (Green) getting back.
“Great game by those guys, and that is what we are looking for every week out of that group.”
After the game, Anderson, who rushed for a career high against the Dolphins, gave it up “big boys up front” making a statement in light of recent criticisms.
“They went out there first play of the game and said, ‘Hey, this is our game today.’ They made a statement, and I just took the right holes and ran. But you have to give it to all them up front,” Anderson said.
Guard Orlando Franklin said after the game it was important for the O-line to come out and “hold up” their teammates.
“We knew we had to come out here and do our job. That’s all it is. Do your job, and your team is going to be good,” Franklin said.