Royce Freeman needs to establish himself as the featured back.
That was our call to Freeman preceding Sunday’s game and for one play, it looked promising. Freeman exploited an absurd hole in the middle of the line and followed Jake Butt, untouched, into the endzone for the Broncos first score of the day.
Sadly, for the Broncos and Freeman, that was the beginning of the end of Denver’s competence. If you take away the touchdown jaunt, Freeman averaged under four yards-per-carry on the day. Debates rage on the usefulness of YPC as a statistic but its the easiest way to describe that Royce runs into the back of his linemen, a lot.
When he’s given room to accelerate, you can see how Freeman can make things happen. It’s hitting holes between the tackles that’s been daunting for the rookie.
At 6′ and nearly 230lb., it’s reasonable to expect that Freeman would be a battering ram out of the backfield but that hasn’t been the case. In fact, fellow rookie Phillip Lindsay has shown much more ability to grind out tough yards than Freeman.
On big third-down plays, it was Devontae Booker in the backfield for the Broncos, not Freeman and that has to be a concern for Denver.
If it takes three backs to perform three duties in the backfield (running, blocking, receiving) then the rotation is broadcasting Denver’s playcalling. Booker’s in? They’re passing but not to a back. You see what I’m getting at, it’s difficult for Denver to disguise offensive playcalls when each of their backs have such a specific role or strength.
The Broncos should be active in talks with the Pittsburgh Steelers regarding the just-made-available Le’Veon Bell. Denver needs an anchor on offense and that guy isn’t currently on the roster.