C.J. Anderson: What if He Was a Fluke?


C.J. Anderson was only the starter for about half of the year last year, but he was one of the best running backs in the league during that time. It happened right when the Denver Broncos‘ passing offense was slowing down, so Anderson really put on a show and made himself a fan favorite.

Now, it’s widely assumed that he’s going to be the starter in 2015 and that he’s going to tear it up. He seems like the ideal fit for the zone blocking scheme and Gary Kubiak’s offense.

But what if last year was a fluke?

Remember, though he always hated it, C.J. Anderson was undrafted. In 2013, he did not start a single game, and he only played in five. He had a grand total of seven touches, 38 yards, and not a single score. He was a non-factor.

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Then, in 2014, he started out in the same role. Only when Montee Ball got hurt—and played ineffectively—did Anderson get his chance.

And he was brilliant, it’s true. But to hear some people tell it, he’s a young star in the making, the next Terrell Davis, guaranteed to get well over 1,000 yards this year. I’ve fallen into this trap myself. It’s easy to act like Anderson is and has been great, when he’s really a back who has only started seven games—less than half a season—in his entire career.

What if he comes out and just doesn’t look good? What if he put together a few great games for the Broncos when they needed it last year, but he doesn’t have what it takes to be a feature back?

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If so, the Broncos’ new offense isn’t going to work. They can split up the carries between a committee of backs or push Montee Ball back into the starting role, but none of that is ideal. This offense needs a back who carries the majority of the load, and Montee Ball doesn’t have the right explosiveness.

Peyton Manning is still Peyton Manning, but the new offense is supposed to take the pressure off of him. If the running game can’t click, Manning will step up and win games on his own. He can do it. But he’ll probably burn out toward the end of the year. For Denver to win when it matters, he needs to do less and let the team help carry itself to the postseason.

In all likelihood, Anderson will be very good; as I said here, I think he’ll be a top-five back. He didn’t get the start because of players drafted higher than him. He had to work his way up, and, when he did, he delivered.

Still, it’s never wise to assume anything, and the Broncos could be in trouble if he doesn’t pick up right where he left off.

Next: Peyton Manning Proves Again that He's a Class Act