In another grab-bag-of-questions interview with Steve Atwater on Broncos Country Tonight, the Hall-of-Famer indirectly gave the best reason for the Broncos having Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay on the same team.
Sure, we’ve hear the rationales before, but they almost always highlight how they’re both fast, they’re both good at making tacklers miss, Lindsay is good at finding creases while Gordon is great on short-yardage pickups.
But when Ryan Edwards asked Atwater which running back he thought would be harder to bring down, Atwater described why both will be tough on d-backs all season.
Addressing Lindsay’s talents first, Atwater pointed out that too many people think being “fast” and being “quick” are the same thing.
But don’t you dare make that argument to the Hall-of-Fame safety.
“With Phillip Lindsay (who ran 4.39 40 at his pro day), he’s not only fast, he’s quick in the hole, he’s shifty. He can make a guy miss with a plant on a dime,” Atwater said. “And when he gets past guys, not many are going to catch him. He’s fearless. He’s not afraid to step up and block. ...But as a defensive back, if he came through the hole, and my lineman didn’t have a tight gap, it’d be a problem because he can make anyone miss.”
Even the great Nigerian-Nightmare-silencer, Steve Atwater?
Yes. (well, not exactly. Certainly not in Atwater’s prime)
But what about Gordon...could he possibly make the Hall-of-Fame tackler miss?
“With Melvin Gordon, he’s a sub 4.4 guy, but he’s a lot bulkier,” Atwater noted. “You have to worry, ‘is he going to try to juke me in the hole or run me over?’ because he could do both. He could outrun you to the edge and really make you look bad.”
So the answer to which one is harder to bring down is “yes” :)
Atwater has been high on the Gordon signing ever since it happened, and that combination of talents is why.
“The combo of both is going to be amazing,” he said.
And that kind of 1-2 punch will be good practice for Broncos’ defensive backs as they prepare to go against different types of running backs all season.
Among the new backs, Atwater is most excited about seeing A.J. Bouyé get his fresh start in Denver and believes he’ll have a big impact on the team’s defense.
“I like his size; I like his attitude. Coming to a new environment,” Atwater said. “He feels like he’s a leader and has a little added responsibility. I think he’s going to rise to the occasion and be a great player, be a good leader and be like another coach on the field.”
As for the veteran defensive backs, Edwards asked Atwater if he thought it would make financial sense for the Broncos to just stick with the franchise tag on Justin Simmons this season and wait to negotiate the long-term contract next season.
While Atwater sees some benefit in that - especially since Simmons hasn’t yet been named to a Pro Bowl but soon will - he’d prefer the Broncos get the long-term contract done this season.
“I do think Justin is a guy who has done everything the right way - made plays on the field; done things off the field to better this community; everybody loves him and wants him here, it’s a matter to the Brncos front office, does it make sense to them, and I’m hoping that it does.”