The Denver Broncos' Running Game Solution

Jason OContributor IJanuary 7, 2009

In 2008, the Denver running attack was as stable as a drunk unicyclist. It rebounded well by ending 12th in the rush but it did not put any fear in other team and kept on rotating starters. The change in players was mainly (if not entirely) due to injuries but even while it was healthy  it was dull. For those who watched every game like I did, you could not contest.

A balanced running game with the already impressive passing game will help our scoring problem which was 16th in league. The No. 2 offense was held to such few points because we passed the ball to the point where it was predictable. Denver was 28th in rushing attempts and third in passing attempts.

Denver's first move will be the easiest: get healthy. The Broncos lost seven runningbacks by the end of the season and had to pick up a handful of free agent backs during the season. The second step is to forget about Hall, Pittman, and Young.

A recent article suggested that young should start next season because he was the most consistent. I cannot describe Young as consistent.  He will either break out the big run or get stuffed. Lately it has been more of getting stuffed that breaking out. He was also considered injury prone while in college and lived to such a reputation in the pros.

I am not trying to bash Young I am just saying he is not the answer. Hall is a player I enjoyed to watch but disappointed me quickly. His performance against New England was a great example of his sloppy play. Pittman may have averaged five yards a carry but he is 33 and will be a 34-year-old runningback coming off a season-ending injury.

Denver is also said to be looking into Sproles in free agency but the little guy would only be brought in so that he can not be used against us. Sproles may be fast but I don't think he would mesh well in other systems. The Broncos should forget about Sproles.

The final step is to establish consistency. I think Torain should get the majority of the load. I think the running game will look similar to what it did at the beginning of the season with the three back attack. I think Torain should get the load, Hillis should play a FB/HB hybrid and third down back(receiving skills), and Aldridge should get some touches for his incredible speed. Torain is a question mark at this point.

He looked like the answer against Cleveland but left early with an ACL injury. Many backs say that it takes well over a year to fully recover. Hillis played well at fullback, had a spectacular receiving game against Miami and won our hearts with his solid running towards the end of the season. His case has no need to be defended. Aldridge should be given a chance to be the speed back. He was not able to play when the season started but impressed me in the last preseason game.

I would like Aldridge to compete for this role during preseason against Bell and Young. I said previously to forget about Young but that was as the starting back. Bell should be given a legitimate shot to earn this role for his great play against San Diego in the season finale. I would like to see at least one of those three speedsters to really bring up their game.

If Torain's injury persists then the Broncos can look into the draft. I would not suggest drafting higher than the third round. The first two picks should be on defensive players, especially safety and middle linebacker. The Iowa star Shonn Greene would be a great fit and a steal if he falls to the third round.

In the past Denver has shown some interest in Ian Johnson from Boise State but his production dropped after the Oklahoma upset. I have a feeling that the Broncos will make a move on Gatrell Johnson because of they have shown quite a bit of home state loyalty later in the draft. He was very productive and impressive at Colorado State. Coincidentally Gatrell has almost the exact dimensions as Torain (Johnson is three pounds lighter).