The Broncos running game – It gives more headaches than cheap Tequila.
The Broncos finished the 2010 season 26th in the rushing department averaging 96.5 yards per game and they were 3rd in fumbles lost. Because the team couldn’t establish the run game, they were faced with a lot of third and longs, and an inability to turn red zone appearances into touchdowns.
In the final three games of the season, Tim Tebow was the rushing star for the team. In fact, if it wasn’t for him, the Broncos would have finished the season ranked much lower than 26th. In the games that Tebow started, he had 31 carries for 199 yards (6.4 yard avg.) and 3 touchdowns. The Broncos starting back, Knowshon Moreno, had 17 carries for 65 yards ( 3.8 yard avg.), and zero touchdowns in those same three games.
With Moreno being drafted 12th overall in the 2009 draft, much of the Broncos rushing game has been placed on his shoulders. However, he’s had a hard time carrying the load because he’s been bitten by the injury bug twice during summer training camps and during the season, which forced him to miss three games this year. That’s why this highly anticipated back out of Georgia has been slow to warm in the hearts and minds of Broncos fans.
After a solid rookie season in which he rushed for 947 yards (3.8 yards per carry), had 7 rushing touchdowns and 2 receiving touchdowns, we were waiting for the rookie to explode out of the gates with baited breath. Instead, he exploded out of the Broncos tunnel with more energy than a four-year-old on cotton candy, but didn’t always produce when the ball was snapped. In his second season, he plateaued rushing for 779 yards (4.3 yards per carry), had 5 rushing touchdowns and 3 receiving touchdowns.
Not all blame can be placed on Moreno as the offensive line surely contributes to whether or not a back succeeds.
However, I think another stable back needs to be brought in the off season.
Here’s where DeAngelo Williams comes into play. The Carolina Panther is already familiar with John Fox and he’s an unrestricted free agent (First, the CBA must be dealt with before Williams can become an option). Williams (one half of “Smash-n’-Dash”) played in just six games last year because of a foot injury. However, in ’08 and ’09, the back and over 1,100 yards each season. ’08 was his best year with 1,515 yards (5.5 yards per carry), 18 touchdowns and no fumbles. He’s also a viable threat as a receiver.
Williams would be entering his sixth year in the league, and prior to the 2010 season, the back had only missed six games in his career. I say “only” because of the type of runner that Williams is. He’s 5’9”, 217 lbs., and he’s a physical back (think Maurice Jones-Drew) with breakaway speed.
Williams was reportedly not happy when the Panthers fired running backs coach, Jim Skipper, so a lot of teams will be in the market for a guy like Williams. The advantage that Denver has in attracting the powerful back is John Fox. If Fox explicitly says that he’s pursuing Williams, expect a total upgrade in the Broncos’ backfield.
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