Aug 23, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos running back Juwan Thompson (40) rushes in the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the Houston Texans at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Texans defeated the Broncos 18-17. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Juwan Thompson deserves a chance to start.
The Denver Broncos running game has been non-existent the first three games of the season. This after talk all offseason about how crucial it is for the offense to find balance.
Hey, at least the key to the Broncos was back at their first practice after the bye week. What would have Denver done without tight end Virgil Green? Now the Arizona Cardinals can expect more of those third-and-long draw plays. But at least the gameplan is intact for Sunday with Green’s return, right?
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If Denver is serious about finding that balance, give Thompson at least one carry. What he showed in the preseason has been absent from a Broncos running back since Terrell Davis hung up his pads. It was far more impressive than anything CJ Anderson or Ronnie Hillman have shown. When Anderson exploded on the scene last preseason, he would have gotten that chance had he not gotten injured.
Why won’t Thompson get that chance?
What does John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase have to lose?
If Thompson doesn’t play as he did in the preseason, then you don’t lose anything. The running game is still terrible. But if Thompson does run with that same vision, first-step ability, quickness and power, you solved your running game problem.
Aug 17, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Denver Broncos running back Juwan Thompson (40) runs past San Francisco 49ers defensive back C.J. Spillman (27) in the third quarter at Levi
Patience is a virtue, and NFL coaches preach that nonsense all of the time.
From what we’ve seen the first three weeks of the season, there’s no basis for that rationale. And with another great defense looming, the Broncos don’t have the benefit of patience.
The problem starts at the offensive line. When your backs are hit behind the line of scrimmage 40 percent of the time, no running back can or will be effective.
I’ve made the case to bench center Manny Ramirez but that won’t happen unless he follows up his awful game in Seattle with another one on Sunday.
So Denver is stuck with the line it has. There isn’t a Tony Jones at right tackle or Tom Nalen at center sitting on the bench. What would help is if the Broncos practice this aspect of the game, which is something they apparently don’t do, according to Vic Lombardi and former Denver tight end Joel Dreessen.
So that leaves the backs.
Again, why not give Thompson at least a chance to prove he can do it? Let him show the coaches and his teammates they can trust him to do the job.
He can’t do any worse. And the benefits far outweigh the risk.
But the only way to know for sure is to give Thompson that chance.
John Elway also needs to explore what it would take to get CJ Spiller from the Buffalo Bills. It doesn’t cost Elway or the Broncos anything to ask.
If they get Spiller, they get a guy who can bust the ball outside the tackles and catch out of the backfield. If Thompson has success, you now have two different styles of runners who are effective and improve the offense even more.
That’s not what you can say about the Broncos running game at right now. There’s no point for teams to even bother defending the run.
Take hope out of the equation. Hope is just a four-letter word that will leave the organization and Broncos Country in severe disappointment again.
Explore all scenarios. Find the answer yourself. Have the initiative to know there’s a problem and fix it.
Success in the running game won’t come from fairy dust and a magic lamp.
Who knows? Thompson might bring a little magic of his own to the Broncos.
At least the key to the Broncos offense is back. Green solves all of Denver’s problems, right?
Sep 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos running back Juwan Thompson (40) before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports