Broncos find comfort zone in pistol formation
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) A meeting of the minds has led to a happy medium.
Peyton Manning prefers to line up in the shotgun where he doesn't have to take his eyes off the defense, which is especially important for a 39-year-old quarterback.
Denver Broncos coach Gary Kubiak likes his QB to line up under center where the play-action is most misleading in his zone blocking scheme.
So, the pistol formation it is.
Manning lined up away from the center but with the running back directly behind him so as not to tip his hand in Denver's 24-12 win at Detroit on Sunday night.
Although it didn't help the Broncos' ground game - they gained just 42 yards on 18 carries before Manning's kneel-down in victory formation- Manning was sacked just once in 43 drop-backs.
He threw for two TDs and more yards - 324 - than he had since last Nov. 16 against the Rams. The Broncos improved to 3-0 even as they continue to search for a balanced offense to go with their top-ranked defense.
''Obviously, I want to get Peyton as comfortable as I possibly can is what we're trying to do,'' Kubiak said. ''We're still trying to maintain some balance as far as formation-wise ... I know he was very comfortable.''
After getting sacked seven times through the first two games - the most through Week 2 in his 18 NFL seasons - Manning spent most of his night upright against the Lions (0-3).
He also had more room to step into his passes and had more zing on his throws.
''I know he likes to see the field from back there,'' Kubiak said. ''We continue to work both and I think you're going to continue to see both, but I was trying to find some balance with what we're doing offensively, but I think he played really, really well.''
The Broncos ran the pistol through much of training camp and Manning said he loved the way it helped in protection.
''I imagine it'll be a part of the arsenal throughout the season,'' he said.
Whether or not their next opponent, the Minnesota Vikings (2-1), is buying it, Kubiak was also non-committal when discussing whether the pistol is permanent.
Kubiak was asked Monday when Manning will next be seen under center.
''Probably Wednesday,'' he replied. ''We'll continue to do it all. But obviously, he was very comfortable. I think we made some strides last night. So, we've just got to make some more.''
Especially in the running game.
The Broncos are averaging just 57 yards a game on the ground and 2.6 yards a carry. Part of the problem is that C.J. Anderson has had a sprained ankle, sprained big toe and a head injury.
''We've got to keep him on the field consistently,'' Kubiak said. ''(But) I just think it's (getting) better every place. I can't sit here and say it's one thing and we'll go out there and rush for 250 yards. We've got to just keep pounding and get better at a lot of things.''
Notes: Kubiak said he had no update on RB Juwan Thompson (neck), who was the Broncos' most effective back (11 yards on three carries for a 3.7-yard average but left in the first half and didn't return). ... Kubiak said eliminating the personal fouls can't come at the expense of dialing down Denver's defensive aggression: ''I don't ever want our players to lose their aggressiveness as a football team or their confidence to be able to overcome penalties,'' he said, ''because it is part of the game.''
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