Despite looking like a completely lost rookie to start off his NFL career, Montee Ball has the favor of the Broncos’ coaching staff and has shown some serious signs of improvement over the last few weeks, at least in my estimation.
Aside from scoring three touchdowns in the last three games, Ball has not fumbled since the game against Oakland when he fumbled late, although you could consider the fumble against the Chiefs at least partly his fault.
The stat sheet doesn’t show a big number of carries, yards, or yards per carry, but what the box score doesn’t always tell is the whole story.
Ball has shown some nice second effort, and after watching so many different running backs struggle through the same thing he is behind the same or similar offensive line, it’s hard to blame just the running backs anymore for the Broncos’ inability to gain big chunks of yards on the ground.
Right now, the Broncos are going to continue to integrate Ball into the rotation with Knowshon Moreno slowly, but he is obviously gaining steam as the team’s full-time goal line back.
That’s not good news for Knowshon Moreno’s touchdown numbers, but it’s a good way to get Ball involved, and get him some positive momentum going down the stretch of the season. At Wisconsin, Ball was the most prolific scorer at the running back position in college football history, and the Broncos are obviously trying to get some of that to translate to the next level.
He’s not putting out performances like Gio Bernard in Cincinnati, Eddie Lacy in Green Bay, or Zac Stacy in St. Louis, but the Broncos aren’t placing an emphasis on running the ball like those teams, nor are they phasing out Moreno like other teams have phased out other backs.
I don’t think very many have been patient with Ball to this point, but even the biggest of skeptics can’t deny the strides he has made in recent weeks. The Broncos are increasing his workload and he’s answering the call, scoring two touchdowns in the biggest game of the season to date. Now the Broncos go to New England, a team that has given up only three rushing touchdowns all season. If the Broncos get looks inside the red zone or in goal line situations, Ball will be a guy that is counted on to make big plays.
It’ll be up to the rookie to prove that these recent improvements are no fluke.