Oh, Peyton Hillis, Where Have You Gone?
Josh McDaniels lied.
He said in the off-season that he would utilize any of Mike Shanahan's holdover offensive talent, and that anyone that had the ability to help the team would be used in his offense.
True, after the Denver Broncos started the season 6-0, there wasn't much one could argue with McDaniels over. The defense was playing at a phenomenal level, the offense was doing what it had to do, and the Broncos were taking the league by storm.
But a 2-5 record since has changed the tune a bit in Denver. And after experiencing a tale of two seasons after 15 weeks, this writer is finally ready to unleash on McDaniels and any Denver fans that have been unwilling to come forward and say what needs to be said:
Where the hell is Peyton Hillis , and why hasn't he been involved in this offense?
Granted, the Broncos realized a flaw in their roster after last year's on-going list of injuries to the running back position left them depleted and scratching at free agency for talent, but with solid players returning for the 2009 season still on the roster, McDaniels did a complete overhaul, originally bringing in J.J. Arrington, Lamont Jordan, Correll Buckhalter, and drafting Georgia running back, Knowshon Moreno.
It begs the question; where's the room for that white guy who kicked some serious ass at tailback last year?
Hillis took the league by storm in 2008, rushing for 329 yards and five touchdowns in a five-game span towards the end of last season, and even ran for 129 yards against the New York Jets, one of last season's top run defenses.
He averaged five yards per carry, topped 4.4 yards per carry in four straight games, and was even an asset as a receiver. A bit more than just an asset if you watch the tape and look at the numbers, as Hillis was able to haul in seven catches for 116 yards and a touchdown in a game against the Miami Dolphins before he was called to duty as an emergency tailback.
However, we know where the story goes from here. Hillis tore his hamstring in the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs, and his season was over.
Still, even with all the running back additions, fans and writers alike questioned the rookie coach all off-season on what Hillis's role would be, and how often he'd be used. McDaniels claimed that Hillis would have a decent role, as he is a versatile and talented player, yet McDaniels seemed unwilling to switch his position, and opted to keep him at fullback.
When McDaniels was questioned on why he wasn't using Hillis more, he simply referenced the current rushing attack, and said he wasn't needed .
He even made the weak excuse that he wasn't being used in short yardage situations because fullback Spencer Larsen was injured, even though it was only for one week, and doesn't explain Hillis's lack of offensive duties for the other 12 games.
While Hillis is still technically listed at running back on some depth charts across the web, he's still primarily playing the role of a fullback, and for the most part in 2009, hasn't really played a role at all.
When finally given a chance as a ball carrier for the first time in nine weeks, Hillis took seven attempts for 47 yards (6.7 yards per carry) against the Chiefs two weeks ago.
This isn't an open announcement that Hillis should be starting over Knowshon Moreno and/or Correll Buckhalter. It's not a promotion for him to switch positions. It's not even a deliberate attack on Josh McDaniels or the Denver Broncos.
What it is, though, is a friendly reminder that the Broncos have a very versatile and talented player wasting away on their team. And if they don't want to use him, they should send him somewhere where someone will.
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