Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman are locks to make the Broncos roster. Most Broncos fans know that. Questions regarding Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno were not new. Then, of course, the news broke that McGahee would no longer be a Bronco.
Broncos fans (and I’m being a little presumptuous here) may not realize that this franchise has always lacked a running game. Terrell Davis changed that in the years that marked the end of the John Elway era but he was a very special case in the history of this franchise. With all due respect to Sammy Winder, Otis Armstrong and Floyd Little, Willis McGahee was truly one of the best backs to wear the Bronco uniform. Unfortunately, Denver only got their hands on McGahee two years ago.
Given better opportunities, Willis McGahee should have been a 10,000 yard rusher. My guess is that he will not even be given the chance to crack 9,000. I hope that I am wrong. It’s not as though the Broncos were going to give him the opportunity either so maybe it’s better he was released. However, it’s doubtful another team will make him their feature back.
Under John Elway’s leadership, the team has been getting younger on average and they have drafted running backs in the third and second round respectively in the last two drafts. Of course, Peyton Manning and Wes Welker don’t necessarily fit that mold but that’s because this team understands the value of veterans… right?
Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball have bright futures in the NFL. Ball is still an unknown entity but his college career speaks volumes about his durability and talent. Hillman, who was an undersized rookie, filled some very big shoes and played an important role in the Broncos return to dominance last year. However, when McGahee came up injured and Hillman seemed the logical choice to fill his void, the Broncos turned to Knowshon Moreno. MORENO???
Sadly, Knowshon ranks 10th on the Broncos all time rushing list. That is surely a testament to my earlier comments regarding this organization’s futile history at the running back position. More disappointing though is that this team continues to believe in Moreno. One can only presume that has everything to do with his age. Knowshon will be 26 in July. He is still very young but he has done nothing to bolster anyone’s confidence about his durability or talent during his time as a Bronco. At 26 years-old, does anyone think he would find a job outside of the Broncos organization any easier than Willis McGahee who is six years older?
Moreno’s average yards per carry lags behind McGahee! Yes, that stat is correct. He is constantly injured and not surprisingly he came up lame when the Broncos needed him most in last years devastating playoff loss. During his six week stint as McGahee’s replacement many fans commented on how well Moreno had played and how he’d stepped up his game. It’s not hard to step up your game in a Peyton Manning lead offense just ask Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Had anyone bothered to check the stats (and people did!) they would have discovered that the 26-year-old’s numbers looked almost identical to a certain 31-year-olds.
Josh McDaniels’ draft picks during his tenure as Broncos head coach were notoriously awful. I’m not going to waste an article on them. With Demaryius Thomas as the lone exception no one he drafted has been remotely productive. Moreno has to be at the top of this list and still the Broncos refuse to part ways with him. Why not keep McGahee? In addtion to identical statistics, they make almost identical money. If the Broncos are looking to dump roughly $1 million in salary how about dumping the $1 million that offers absolutely no benefit to the organization?
McGahee’s veteran leadership will be missed in a backfield that is this young. Sure Peyton can work wonders. We all know that but doesn’t a veteran presence at running back matter at all? McGahee’s work ethic alone is worth $1 million! Knowshon Moreno offers the Broncos nothing. He can’t help the younger guys and he has never helped this team. Ronnie Hillman could have easily done the same thing Moreno did last year and he probably would have stayed healthy doing it.
In an offseason that has seen some brilliant moves and a very strong draft, getting rid of McGahee is definitely one of the most disappointing and head scratching moves under John Elway’s regime. Moreno had produced nothing, has accomplished nothing and offers… nothing! Yet, somehow, he remains a Bronco?! Youth they say is wasted on the young. Clearly, roster spots are no different.