In 1983 Eric Dickerson put his mark on the NFL with 1808 yards in his rookie season. Dickerson was given the ball 390 times that season and was clearly the work horse that L.A. Rams needed. Dickerson finished that season with 18 Rushing TD's and 2 receiving TD's. Can Knowshon Moreno make his mark on the NFL in a similar way?
Today the NFL is a different game. The speed, size and strength of the defenses makes it almost impossible to have one back carry the entire load. Teams are clearly taking more running backs and adding first rounders when they have selected a first rounder not too long ago. To wit, the Colts selected J. Addai then this year selected Donald Brown. The Panthers selected Johnathan Stewart after selecting DeAngelo Williams just a few years before. Indeed teams are realizing that in order to keep their running backs fresh they need to have more than one. Enter Hillis and Moreno.
One thing that I eagerly await to see is how a Running Back with Moreno's petigree and talent will fit into the Denver Broncos' Zone Blocking Scheme. In my post Tale of Two Systems, I show the differences in the Patriots version of the Erhardt - Perkins System and the Broncos version of the Bill Walsh West Coast Offense and some of the things that we might be able to expect. The madness of Alex Gibbs is still strong in Mile High Country and I believe that Rick Dennison and Bobby Turner have to be salivating to work with a talent like Knowshon and masher like Hillis.
Rather than focus on yards, which the stat guys will tell you is a foolish measure of success, let's focus instead on Rushing Touchdowns.
In the tenure of Mike Shanahan the stats show that when the Broncos had the highest rushing TD's, they won the most games -
Shanahans top 5 seasons in Denver (Record - Year - Rushing TD's)
14-2 1998 - 26 td's
13-3 96',05' - 20,25
12-4 1997 - 18
11-5 2000 - 21
The worst 5
6-10 1999 - 13 td's
7-9 2007 - 10
8-8 '95,'01,'08 - 14,7,15
Here are the top single season Rushing Touchdown marks -
Here are the team records for that season -
2006 Chargers - 14-2
2005 Seahawks - 13-3
2003 Chiefs - 13-3
1995 Cowboys - 12-4 (Super Bowl Champs)
1983 Redskins - 14-2
If the Broncos are to reach lofty heights in 2010, I believe it will be sparked by the running game and better red zone efficiency.
It has been noted that Kyle Orton has a better Red Zone efficiency that Jay Cutler did. Couple this with the fact that Hillis and Moreno have the potential in Denver to become scoring machines that add a potent weapon around the goal line. While yards are great, the score is the only thing that matters.
Knowshon Moreno has an uncanny ability to make defenders miss in tight spaces, Peyton Hillis can make you miss with brute force and power. So I ask you, do the Broncos go over the 30 rushing TD mark this year? If the answer is yes, than the Broncos are poised for a drastic improvement and should be in position to make a deep run in the playoffs.