The Denver Broncos were just a few weeks out from a Super Bowl win when coach Gary Kubiak confirmed he wanted to turn back the clock on offense for the 2016 season.
Back to when the Broncos had previously won a Super Bowl -- back-to-back Super Bowls to be exact -- and the offense could do a little of everything, including running the ball almost whenever it wanted to, even with a fullback in the formation from time to time.
"Those guys are hard to come by," Kubiak said. " ... I've said I'd like to get one in there, have at least one of those guys as part of our team."
And in a time when fewer and fewer teams in the league even have one on the roster, the Broncos took the next step to secure the player they wanted by selecting Nebraska fullback Andy Janovich in the sixth round 176th overall. Janovich was the multi-purpose player the Broncos wanted given they see him as a lead blocker, a back who has enough elusiveness to carry the ball occasionally if needed, and projects to be a special teams regular.
"The whole fullback position is a dying breed and they don't draft fullbacks in the early rounds or sometimes not even in the late rounds, really," Janovich said. " ... It's just a little nerve-wracking. I thought I would get picked up somewhere but I wasn't sure about the draft."
Janovich was the first fullback selected in this year's draft and one of three players at the position who were selected -- all on the third day. Dan Vitale and Derek Watt were both picked in the seventh round -- 197th and 198th overall, by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers respectively.
Kubiak envisioned the Broncos with a fullback on the field more last season. But then James Casey's knee acted up and defensive end Derek Wolfe returned from a four-game suspension to open the season. Casey was released to make room on the roster for Wolfe and the Broncos' two-back plan went with him.
Denver ran a two-back set 16 times in their first four games combined. But in Week 5 they were in it for just one snap and then went six games without lining up in the formation at all. They used the set once on Dec. 6 against the Chargers, four times on Dec. 13 against the Raiders and three times on Dec. 28 against the Bengals.
For the season the Broncos were on a two-back set just 25 times total and never more in a game than the five snaps against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2. Janovich's arrival, with a third-day draft pick, certainly shows their intent to do far more.
The Broncos had also claimed Toben Opurum off waivers earlier this week, but he was waived after he did not pass the team's physical. So they are likely on the hunt for at least one more player at the position.
"Obviously it gives us more options," said offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. "There is a whole set of plays that we can run with two backs that we didn't run very much of last year. That just opens it up and gives us a little bit more for the defense to have to worry about."
Kubiak and Dennison will look to have a little more of the play-action passing game in the offense, a little more power in the run game when they want it, particularly in some of the short-yardage situations the team struggled in at times.
"One extra blocker in there allows us to block another guy closer to the line of scrimmage," Dennison said. "So eight-man boxes, we're able to deal with that. Plus, if we do that well then that will get them up in there and we can throw it over their heads."