There are few givens in the NFL, at least beyond the fact there are few givens in the league.
But as the Denver Broncos opened the preseason Friday night with a 22-20 victory over the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field, it's clear the Mike Shanahan/Gary Kubiak way of teaching a run game -- the way of running that run game -- is pretty much a given.
Year after year, back after back, it produces over and over again.
The question accompanied Kubiak upon his arrival: How would he adapt the new playbook to fit an offense that opened up the formation and put up 34 points a game over the last two years combined? That's including Peyton Manning's record-setting 2013 season, when he threw 55 touchdown passes.
Class has been in session and the Broncos showed they've been listening.
Almost from the moment he was introduced as the new coach in January, Kubiak has promised the Broncos will run the ball more, run the ball better and that those efforts will help win games and keep Manning out of harm's way when the future Hall of Famer does let loose. Which makes this a good time to point out that in 20 previous seasons as an NFL offensive coordinator or head coach, Kubiak's team has had a 1,000-yard rusher 15 times. Seven times a back rushed for at least 1,500 yards.
On that list, eight players topped 1,000 yards with a long list of linemen. So when the Broncos had 113 yards rushing Friday night -- 122 before the Broncos lost 9 yards on an ill-fated reverse by wide receiver Solomon Patton in the fourth quarter -- in the first public showing of the new offense in a game conditions, it was a glimpse of what's been and what's to come.
As former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer has said, "[Kubiak] knows how to teach it, the coaches know how to teach it and then can teach it to whatever group they have. They know it and when they start going over how it's going to go, you know, as a player, they know everything there is to know about doing it that way."
With three players in the starting offensive line Friday night who had played in zero NFL games combined -- preseason or otherwise -- the Broncos called 33 runs before the night was out, a different look for a team that had at least 33 rushing attempts in just five games last season. Ronnie Hillman, who has spent most of the offseason as the No. 3 back, did most of the work Friday with 66 yards on his eight carries.
There was little game-planning involved, but it is already a promise kept. Kubiak said the Broncos would put Manning in an offense that could stress a defense in the run game and give Manning more room to throw.
Folks didn't see Manning play Friday night, but everybody saw the offense he will play in and it looked exactly like Kubiak said it would.