Broncos smart to run it back with Melvin Gordon alongside Javonte Williams

Melvin Gordon scores a touchdown against the Lions in December, 2021. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports.
Melvin Gordon scores a touchdown against the Lions in December, 2021. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports.

It appears as if Javonte Williams will be the No. 1 running back in Broncos Country this year.

And if that’s the case, Melvin Gordon is the perfect “backup” to Williams.

Late Tuesday night, the Denver Broncos re-signed Gordon to a one-year deal. And considering how well the two played with one another last year, it was a sensational signing.

Why? Let’s get into it.

First and foremost, the Broncos needed a backup running back to Williams, the rookie sensation last year. Really, there’s not much wrong with Williams’ game. He’s a brutal back, with 63 missed tackles forced, which was only second to Jonathan Taylor of the Indianapolis Colts. However, Taylor had 332 carries last year, Williams had only 203. So Williams is forcing missed tackles at the highest rate in the NFL.

Still, all that physical running will end up having a toll on a back, no matter how young. On top of that, Gordon is a bit better at making things happen in space than is Williams.

And that leads to our second point why it was a good re-signing: Gordon still has gas left in the tank. In fact, per Pro Football Focus, Gordon’s 77.8 grade was the best he’s had since 2018. In his two seasons with the Broncos, Gordon has nearly rushed for 1,000 yards each year (986, 918 respectively) with 17 touchdowns. He’s also averaging 4.6 yards per carry over the course of his tenure with Denver, which is borderline elite.

Plus, while Williams is a solid pass-protector, Gordon is even better. With this signing, the Broncos are signaling they made it a priority to protect their new superstar quarterback Russell Wilson.

And while both Gordon and Williams are “thunder and thunder” type backs, we already know they will be fine to compliment one another.

Last year, Gordon was the No. 1 back, starting all 16 games he played in. However, Broncos fans know Gordon and Williams were really No. 1 and 1A, respectively. Both enjoyed exactly the same amount of carries (203), which is somewhat incredible, really. And both went over 900 yards rushing, with Gordon enjoying an 8-to-4 touchdown edge.

Now, if Williams is to be the “featured” back and the starter, with Gordon taking the backseat, the Broncos had to know they had the right guy to do just that. Gordon, the 7-year veteran, is seemingly happy to be that “backup” to Williams. And the two know each other from last year, so chemistry shouldn’t be an issue at the position.

It also bodes well for both of them to be playing in Nathaniel Hackett’s offense this year. Last season with the Green Bay Packers, Hackett enjoyed having both AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones. The similar “thunder and thunder” combination ran for 799 and 803 yards respectively, and combined for 9 touchdowns.

So, Hackett knows how to balance two dynamite running backs. It should also be noted that while those backs in Green Bay had noticeably less production on the ground than Denver’s backs in 2021, Hackett’s offense uses the backs more as receivers than did Pat Shurmur’s offense in the Mile High City. Jones and Dillon combined for 704 yards and 8 TDs through the air, too.

While tomorrow brings the NFL Draft, and the Broncos will be sitting out of the first round, George Paton has worked tirelessly this offseason to build the Broncos into legitimate AFC West — and Super Bowl — contenders.

There’s a night and day difference for this team compared to last year’s with respect to the offense. Wilson is a top-10 (probably top-5) quarterback, he’s got a ton of talented receiving weapons, two dynamite running backs and now Hackett calling the plays.

It seems we should expect Paton to load up on the defensive side of the ball in the Draft, where there are still plenty of playmakers there, too.

Starting in 2022, the Denver Broncos are all-in. What a fun time to be a fan.

SHARE