Royce Freeman should be starting, Vance Joseph must make change

Royce Freeman. Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports.
Royce Freeman. Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports.

Best running back on the Denver Broncos? It’s Royce Freeman, and it’s not even close.

This is not aimed at bashing Devontae Booker or anyone else, it’s simply clear as day; Freeman should be starting in the backfield in Week 1. And really, Phillip Lindsay has looked better than Booker, too.

And yet, Broncos head coach Vance Joseph doesn’t see it that way.

When asked on Monday if both Booker and Freeman will play this Thursday, in the Broncos preseason finale, Joseph said, “Right now, we’ve got Freeman scheduled to play. He’s had a good preseason. He’s run the ball tough, he’s practiced well and he’s run downhill. We’ll see if he plays and how much he plays.”

If Booker isn’t playing, that means he remains the starter. It’s bit mind-boggling because here’s what Freeman has done this preseason compared to Booker:

Devontae Booker: 9 carries for 33 yards.

Royce Freeman: 15 carries for 84 yards and 3 TDs. He’s scored a touchdown in every preseason game, breaking big runs to do so.

On that rushing touchdown against the Redskins, Freeman looked like the reincarnation of Terrell Davis, with his one-cut and go, downhill approach. Which is exactly the way he ran in college at Oregon, and despite the great wear and tear on his legs, he still has a lot of juice as evidenced by his numbers.

Of course, at 238 pounds, he’s 30 pounds bigger than TD, although, his 40 time was better than the Hall of Famer’s. OK, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, Freeman may not be the next coming of Terrell Davis, but without a doubt, he’s the best back on the roster.

So, why even play him on Thursday? What if he gets injured?

Brad Evans went in on the decision by Joseph and why it was so ridiculous:

The missed tackle numbers are a nice addition to further illustrate how much better Freeman has been than Booker. As for Lindsay, he’s a smaller “scat-back” type guy who also has big-play ability we’ve rarely seen from Booker during his career in Denver.

The Broncos have thrown the ball to Lindsay multiple times out of the backfield; in the first preseason game for a touchdown, and last week on a critical third down to gain a first.

In the first three preseason games, Lindsay’s numbers are as follows: 13 carries for 65 yards and 4 receptions for 58 yards, one TD. His 5.0 yards per carry is the best of the three backs and he seems to be the most versatile, too. Definitely more-so than Booker.

Of course, with Booker being the starter, he’s seen less carries and less playing time than the other two, which must be kept in mind. But, Booker has shown little in terms of explosive or exciting plays being made; he’s been lost in the mix, invisible, with the No. 1 offense.

Joseph and the Broncos should make the move now, and be proactive, pushing Freeman to the starting spot. His stubbornness and/or blindness to Freeman being the best back on the roster is only another indictment on Joseph’s inability to lead an NFL team.

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