The Broncos drafted Montee Ball in 2013 because they believed he could bring a missing element to their recod breaking offense. Now after a rookie season filled with mistakes and learning, it’s time for Ball to show he’s ready to be the second most important player on offense behind Peyton Manning.
The Broncos lost to the Seattle Seahawks for a lot of reasons but the underlying theme was the Broncos inability to match the Seahawks physically. The Broncos’ receivers were pushed around, the offensive line was overmatched and the Seahawks completely disrupted passing game. Once the passing game was taken away, the Broncos were done offensively. If they can’t run the ball better in 2014, then there will be no parade next February.
The Broncos drafted Ball last year with the idea that he would be the guy to take the pressure off of Manning and after a year of on-the-job training, it’s time for him to reward their faith. Ball must be able to get the tough yards on third and short, and in goal-line situations but his role is bigger than just that.
Once the Seahawks took away the timing of the offense, the Broncos had nowhere to go. Ball along with a more physical offensive line must be able to give the Broncos another option when teams do what the Seahawks did in the Super Bowl. If the receivers are not getting off the line and the pass protection is struggling, then Ball has to be able to pick up 3 yards here and 5 yards there.
Every team the Broncos play in 2014 is going to look at the tape of the Super Bowl and try to do what the Seahawks did. They are going to get physical with Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and others. Teams are going to try and pressure Manning to disrupt the rhythm of the offense. The NFL is a copycat league and even if teams do not have the personnel of the Seahawks, they will try to copy their game plan.
The only way for the Broncos to combat that is by being a more physical offense and it has to start with Ball. The Broncos, behind Ball and the offensive line, must be able to get the ugly yards when the passing game is not working. They must be able to slug out a 16-13 win on the road and they must find a way to convert short-yardage situations without throwing into a defense that is waiting for that.
Is this too much to ask for a second year pro like Ball, maybe but this is why he was selected. He’s the reason a productive back like Knowshon Moreno was allowed to leave via free agency. The Broncos believe that Ball can bring balance and a physical presence to an offense that, while great, was often too one-dimensional last season.
The Broncos have one goal going into 2014 and that’s to be World Champions. If they are going to achieve that goal then Ball has to be the second most important player on the offensive side of the ball. If Manning throws for 5,000+ yards and 50+ touchdowns again, the Broncos can make it back to the Super Bowl. However if they are going to win it, then better numbers for Manning would be 4,500 yards and 35-40 touchdowns. It’s up to Ball and the running game as a whole to make up the difference with 1,000+ yards and 10-15 touchdowns on the ground.
It’s true that the NFL is a passing league and that’s why the Broncos will once again run away with the AFC West, but if they want to accomplish their ultimate goal then they must get more physical in the running game. That change starts with Ball; it’s why they drafted him in 2013.