Denver Broncos: Why is Phillip Lindsay not getting more touches?
Through five weeks, the Broncos are not utilizing Phillip Lindsay as much as they should be, and that is hurting Case Keenum’s chances to be successful.
Last Sunday, the Denver Broncos were embarrassed 34-16 by a New York Jets team that had lost three straight going into the game. The Broncos’ defense got beat like a drum all game long to the tune of 323 rushing yards and 512 total yards allowed.
Obviously, after a performance like that, the majority of the blame should be shouldered upon the defense. That said, the offensive play calling was and has been all season a major disappointment for the Broncos.
Something has to change quickly, or Denver will be looking at another underachieving season and a top 10 draft pick, rather than contending for a playoff spot like a team with this much talent should be.
The way I see it, the changes have to start with getting the ball into the best players’ hands as often as possible. Right now, the best player is Phillip Lindsay.
Lindsay, an undrafted stud rookie running back out of Colorado University, has been one of the lone bright spots for an offense that ranks 27th in scoring and 18th in passing. Lindsay has led the charge for the Denver’s rushing attack, leading the team in rushing yards with 328 and yards per carry among running backs with 5.8. Those numbers also rank 11th in the NFL in yards and fifth in yards per carry.
The problem is that Lindsay isn’t touching the ball enough for how well he has been playing. Lindsay is averaging only a little over 11 carries per game, and his 57 carries on the season rank 23rd in the NFL.
His carries are tied for the second least amount of carries among the top 15 leading rushers in the league. This no doubt has something to do with the fact that the Broncos have developed a running back by committee system with their other talented rookie running back Royce Freeman, but even when you account for his carries and add in rushing attempts by all other players, the Broncos still rank 17th in the league in rushing attempts.
Last year when quarterback Case Keenum led the Vikings to the NFC Championship game, Minnesota ranked second in the league in rushing attempts with 501 and Keenum only attempted 481 passes. Right now, Keenum is on pace to throw 614 passes, which would be 33 more than any quarterback did last year. That’s simply not his game, and the Broncos are making a mistake if they’re trying to make it that way.
At best, Keenum is a really good game manager who can succeed with a potent running game and a great defense, which Minnesota had and utilized with Keenum. While the Broncos haven’t yet shown that they are capable of even being a good defense this season, they have featured one of the best running games in all of football, led by one of the most unexpected stars in the league in Lindsay.
If the Broncos are going to turn around their fortunes and make a playoff run this season, Lindsay should be running the ball at least 20 times a game, which should be good for 100 yards a game from him almost every week, considering his 5.8 yards per carry average.
According to The Football Database, teams this year are 19-4-1 when at least one of their players runs for 100 yards, including the Broncos’ week two win over the Raiders when Lindsay rolled up 107 yards on only 14 carries.
Not only does it seem like common sense that the Broncos should be running the ball more, but the numbers also suggest that they have to in order to be successful with Case Keenum as the quarterback.
Why the coaching staff has yet to realize that is a little head scratching to me, but I guess I’ve gotten used to scratching my head after a year and a half of watching Vance Joseph make decisions.