Last season, the Denver Broncos gave Melvin Gordon a total of 203 carries. They also gave then rookie running back Javonte Williams a total of, you guessed it, 203 carries. Gordon ended up gaining 15 more yards on the ground and was the go-to guy in the red zone with eight rushing touchdowns over Javonte’s four.
There were times last season when watching these two alternate series in a maddening way. One of them would be hot and shredding defenses, but the other would not be feeling it. Pat Shurmur, in all his wisdom, would never deviate from his plan. There were games where both Gordon and Williams could have popped off in a big way if the coach would have just went with the hot hand earlier in some of those games.
You have to believe new head coach Nathaniel Hackett will approach things in such a way. He’s already spoken about adjusting earlier in games when the rushing attack was flopping in that first preseason game.
As for Gordon, he admitted on Wednesday that it’ll be Williams as the lead back in 2022 with Gordon splitting carries after.
“I think they have a plan on what they want heading in, but as far as the rotation goes, I really don’t know,” Gordon said. “I think they want ‘Vonte’ (RB Javonte Williams) to be the guy, but we do rotate. He’ll take the first series and then the second series with the [No. 1 offense], I’ll take. Sometimes we switch, but you know kind of how it is. I don’t know how they will do the rotation. I have to go back and look at how they did things in Green Bay with the carries and things like that.”
As a fan, I’m perfectly fine with another season of these two guys splitting around 50-50. What I would like to see is coaches having a better feel for the game than Pat freaking Shurmur.
Just to remind people what I’m talking about, I just have to look back at the final game last season. This is more in favor of Gordon than Williams. Gordon finished with 12 carries for 110 yards. Over 9 yards per rush, but what was Shurmur’s plan? Mandatory 50-50 split in carriers, so Willliams had an off day gaining just 46 yards on 12 carries. The Broncos lost that game to the Kansas City Chiefs 28-24. Who knows what might have happened if Gordon got another 5-6 carries on some of the drives.
I digress. My point is that splitting carries is something I like and having two premier backs that can pop off any given game is a luxury in the NFL. If the coaching staff can take advantage in game.
Gordon seems to not be too sure what the plan is, but given he is splitting carries with Williams with the first-team offense all through training camp is a good indication of where things are going.
“My mom says just go out here and compete and go as hard as I can,” Gordon continued. “I don’t know what the future holds other than that, but I just want to put my best foot forward so when I do so out there, they go, ‘OK, we need to get him out there more.’ I know I have the game; I know I can play and I still have the juice, but we’ll see.”
That certainly sounds like a man who will definitely bring the juice in 2022. The Broncos are in good shape at the running back position provided they all stay healthy.
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