Denver Broncos rookie fullback Andy Janovich made an interesting revelation following Thursday’s season-opening win over the Carolina Panthers.
It wasn’t about his 28-yard touchdown, although he did discuss that.
This had more to do with his blocking prowess.
The tidbit was telling.
Janovich, along with the revamped Denver offensive line, had just finished bruising the Panthers’ intimidating front seven to help the Broncos rush for 148 yards (5.1 yards per attempt). The Broncos racked up more rushing attempts (29) than pass attempts (26).
It was throwback football: Rush the ball first, make conservative throws, bleed the clock and lean on your defense. Until quarterback Trevor Siemian demonstrates he can hang in the pocket and make accurate throws downfield, this is the Broncos’ recipe for winning.
Coaches and teammates raved about Janovich, the team’s sixth-round pick out of Nebraska, all offseason. It became clear why on Thursday. Time and time again, he got the best of a Panthers linebacker in the second level to create a running lane for a Broncos’ running back.
C.J. Anderson, who was the biggest beneficiary of Janovich bringing the wood, rushed for 92 yards on 20 carries. Look how Janovich walls off the Panthers’ Thomas Davis to spring Anderson for a 10-yard gain.
Your uncle who says we would’ve won state at Thanksgiving ever year could have picked up positive yardage on that play. Now that’s not to take anything away from Anderson, who ran with patience, vision and aggression. But Janovich and the offensive line created some cavernous lanes for him and the other running backs to go through.
Denver trotted out four new opening-day starters on the offensive line: left tackle Russell Okung, left guard Max Garcia, right guard Michael Schofield and right tackle Donald Stephenson. Center Matt Paradis was the lone returner. There were questions as to how the unit would hold up. Saying they exceeded expectations is putting it lightly.
They dominated Carolina’s defensive line. Check out this gap they opened for rookie running back Devontae Booker.
The offensive line opens the lane, and Janovich keeps it that way.
In a recent interview with ESPN The Magazine, longtime NFL cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones was asked how he’s seen offenses change since he entered the league in 20015.
“The fullback — poof — gone,” he said. “The whole league is moving away from power football. So no fullback, no big back, and the tight end won’t be a big-ass slow guy close to the line; he’ll be running like a receiver.”
In a league that is all about more receivers split out wide and less players in the backfield, the Broncos did the opposite in their first game of 2016. Janovich played 47 percent of Denver’s offensive snaps.
If he and the offensive line can continue creating running lanes, expect that trend — and the broken face masks — to continue.