Feed him the pigskin.
Denver’s hometown wonder, Phillip Lindsay, has never been able to quit on himself.
At a mere 5’9″ tall and 190 pounds, Lindsay is too small to play at the NFL level. Hell, he was too small to play at the BCS level in college.
That’s likely why he ended up staying home and playing at the University of Colorado. But in his final two years with the Buffs, “too small” Lindsay rushed for 2,700 yards and 30 scores. He also added another 750 receiving yards to it, showing off dazzling speed and a motor that never quits.
That heart, that relentless effort, that magical motor and great speed continue to help prove to everyone that he deserves to play in the NFL.
Not only that, but Lindsay rushed for 1,000-plus yards in his first two seasons with the Denver Broncos, even when not being featured. He had to split time with Royce Freeman, continually having to prove himself as the best running back on the roster.
In fact, he was the first Broncos back to rush for 1,000-plus yards in back-to-back seasons since Clinton Portis in 2002-03. But John Elway and the Broncos still didn’t think he was worthy of being the lead back.
This offseason, the Broncos brought in Melvin Gordon and paid him so much money (2-years, $16 million) he immediately became the bell-cow of the offense. He’s the back whom the Broncos will rely upon more often than not.
And Gordon is good. He has a nose for the goal line. At 6’1″ and 215 pounds, Gordon is more the body type GMs and coaches like to rely upon during a grueling NFL season. And he can catch the ball, just like Lindsay can.
But, without a doubt, we’ve seen that Lindsay is the best player on the field when Denver’s offense is out there.
Last week, as the Broncos couldn’t do hardly anything against the Chiefs on offense, Lindsay led the team with nine rushes for 79 yards. He almost certainly would have hit the century mark for the seventh time of his career, but he sustained a concussion in the third quarter.
Then, we fast forward to this week, with the Broncos again trailing by multiple scores. Lindsay wasn’t given a shot for much of the game which featured Gordon at running back.
And for that matter, the offense was just plain awful for most of the first half of the game. But, they finally came alive in the second half, and it was Lindsay who powered the offense.
With the Broncos trailing 24-3, they desperately needed a spark to bring some life to the offense. There was Lindsay, like a bat out of hell, running 55 yards to daylight. It was Denver’s first touchdown of the day and the first score on the way to a 21-point comeback victory.
Later, with all the momentum but still trailing 27-17, the Broncos needed another spark. Lindsay was there to provide it again, this time his explosive play went 20 yards and set up DaeSean Hamilton’s touchdown on the next play.
Even after all of that special play, Gordon remained the focal point on the final drive of the game.
Simply, Lindsay should have been in at that point, and clearly, earlier in the game as well.
The brilliant back finished with a mere six rushes but for a monstrous 83 yards. After his 8.78 yard per carry average last week, Lindsay enjoyed an otherworldly 13.8 yards per carry today. (Gordon averaged a mere 3.3 YPC.)
When there were no explosive plays to be found, there was Lindsay to ignite the offense and carry them on his shoulders. Like Mighty Mouse.
He’s a special player, and outside of the injured Courtland Sutton, is clearly the best and most explosive player on Denver’s offense. He deserves the ball in his hands more often, and if the Broncos do just that, their 28th-best offense will score more points.
Currently, his 11.3 carries per game are just too few. Even if Gordon has fumbled three times the season, and even if Lindsay is clearly more explosive, Elway is paying Gordon $8 million a year. And all that money isn’t for him to sit on the bench.
For now, we will continue to wait. But, either the Broncos will play Lindsay more than Gordon and succeed or they will continue to be one of the worst offenses in the NFL for years to come.
That’s not to say Lindsay is the end-all, be-all. But, a team has to play their best player. That much is simple.