The Denver Broncos’ 2017 season is at a crossroads.
They are currently 3-2 and are entering a brutal stretch of games over the next four weeks (at the Los Angeles Chargers, at the Kansas City Chiefs, at the Philadelphia Eagles, and a home game against the New England Patriots). How well the Broncos perform in those four games could very well dictate whether they miss the postseason for a second consecutive season.
With that being said, the Denver coaching staff needs to take a long hard look in the mirror because the way they have been handling their running back rotation over the last two weeks hasn’t been giving their team the best chance to win football games.
The problem all starts with their unwarranted infatuation with second-year pro Devontae Booker, who was one of the most-hyped players on Denver’s roster throughout the offseason.
As a rookie in 2016, Booker led the Broncos in rushing with 612 yards and 4 touchdowns on 147 carries. While those numbers are solid, especially considering the offensive line issues Denver had a year ago, they don’t really merit the star treatment the former Utah standout has received from first-year head coach Vance Joseph and his offensive staff.
For reference, Kansas City Chiefs rookie Kareem Hunt has already exceeded Booker’s rookie totals and Jacksonville Jaguars rookie Leonard Fournette is only 16 yards behind Booker, and they have each only played in six games.
Booker was forced to miss the team’s first three regular season games of the season with a wrist injury. When he returned, the Broncos wasted little time getting him involved in their offense, despite the immense production they were getting out of the 1-2 punch of veterans C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles.
Through the first three weeks of the season, Anderson and Charles combined to rush for 377 yards and 2 touchdowns on 81 carries (4.65 yards per carry), and they caught a combined 8 passes for 57 yards and 1 touchdown. Anderson was proving to be the team’s bruiser, and Charles was looking very much like the explosive playmaker he was for so long with Chiefs even though he entered the season with significant health concerns.
In Booker’s first two games back, Charles, who is averaging 5.1 yards per carry (38 carries for 194 yards) on the season, got a grand total of just 6 touches in each game.
What’s even more troubling, though, is the fact that Booker was on the field for a higher percentage of the Broncos’ offensive plays than Charles in the team’s 23-10 loss to the New York Giants in Week 6. Five games worth of statistics would suggest that Charles has been Denver’s most productive back.
To top it all off, rookie running back De’Angelo Henderson, who flashed big-time potential during the preseason, has been inactive in both games since Booker’s return. In my eyes, Henderson showed more promise during the 2017 preseason than Booker has shown at any point during his tenure with the club.
The Broncos entered the season with a clear-cut plan in their heads to keep Charles healthy by not over-working him. With their season essentially on the line over the course the next month, the time has come to abandon that plan and unleash the three-time All-Pro running back.
In a perfect world, the Broncos could find a way to get Anderson and Charles each 15-20 touches every game. That will be nearly impossible if they insist on working Booker into the mix.
The post Denver Broncos are severely mishandling their running back rotation appeared first on All 22.