Why Melvin Gordon will always impact the Denver Broncos offense – Denver Broncos Blog
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Running back Melvin Gordon III’s tenure with the Denver Broncos always seems to carry some kind of asterisk.
In his two seasons in Denver, he led the team in rushing twice, led or tied for the lead in runs twice, and led the team twice, but fans often passed time discussing how others should carry the ball instead.
In 2020, his runs came at the expense of fan favorite Phillip Lindsay, a graduate of South High School in Denver who had a Pro Bowl season the year before Gordon signed. Last season, every carry came at the expense of second-round rookie pick Javonte Williams.
“I said it, I always had the mindset, I’m going to go get it,” Gordon said. “I’m going to do what I do – do what’s best for the team and do what I do so they want to play me.”
Williams and Gordon finished with the same number of runs last season (203). The Broncos have plans — big plans — for tackle chipper Williams, so much so that they didn’t re-sign Gordon in free agency until the last week of April. Gordon promised general manager George Paton at the time, “I’m not going to lie down.”
So far in training camp, he has delivered on that promise. He displayed big-play pop early in the running game and displayed the receiving form he had earlier in his career, when he had four seasons of at least 40 catches – two for over 50 – with the Chargers.
Broncos first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett is coaching Gordon for the first time this season and was quick to say he thought the running back would have an impact on offense.
“I’ve watched Melvin forever,” Hackett added. “He’s just a skilled downhill player. He can catch from the backfield, protect passes and all those things.”
It wasn’t always a sure thing with the Broncos this season. At the end of the 2021 season, Gordon said he would “look” in free agency for potential opportunities to carry the ball more than he did splitting time with Williams.
That’s why he didn’t sign with the Broncos until he saw his market value and after the Broncos traded for quarterback Russell Wilson.
“At the end of the day, Melvin loves the ball,” Broncos running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley said. “He knows what the situation is here, they all know it. But it’s like a menu and sometimes we’ll need a bit more of something on the menu than anything else. Next week it might be different. But my experience as a player shared the ball, shared the ball to win They’re all gonna compete to start, they’ll all get that chance but it’s a good play, they’re gonna produce when they get their chances no matter How’s it going.”
Gordon said he thinks the Broncos are committed to a running game that can support multiple options and that Hackett “draws enough things that everyone can have a chance to get the ball back.”
Hackett and his team intend to make team running backs a bigger part of the passing game than in the Broncos’ past seasons, and that’s where Gordon could find plenty of cliches. The Broncos could also use some personnel groupings with Gordon and Williams in the lineup. In Hackett’s three seasons as offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers, running back Aaron Jones finished second or third on the team in receptions each year. In one of those seasons (2019), the Packers had two running backs in the team’s top three in receptions.
“Having all these running backs going on the roster, you’re going to use their talents,” Broncos offensive coordinator Justin Outten said. “When we were in Atlanta, we had Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman. Two guys who could ride and do special things. We had Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon and [Jamaal] williams [with the Packers]. These guys are going to have their touch, but they’re also going to be widely publicized. We’re going to use them as best we can.”
Ultimately, Wheatley said the onus could be on him to keep all of the team’s fullbacks engaged through the ebb and flow of a season.
“For a veteran like Melvin or any fullback, I would always ask, would you like 25 runs a game and no chance at a Super Bowl or fewer runs than that on a team that can compete for things like the Super Bowl ,” Wheatley said. “To me, that’s an easy answer, but it’s my job to make sure each of them is willing to contribute in whatever way they want.”