There have been many doubters and critics throughout Knowshon Moreno’s four years since being drafted by the Denver Broncos 12th overall in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft. I know, because I must admit that I have been one of those doubters. But even with all the criticism, it was quite of a shock when after the Atlanta Falcons game in week two, Moreno was put on the inactive list for the following week.
In that game, Moreno ran three times for two yards and lost a fumble. Not exactly the way you would like to start the season. This performance came on the heels of a 5 carry for 13yd game in which he scored a TD against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week one. Now, I know that those are not great numbers by any stretch of the imagination, but Willis McGahee was the starting back and there was no disputing that.
That is where the tables have turned in Moreno’s career, after his rookie year, he was never able to be a feature back again. In 2009, as the primary back, and a rookie, Moreno rushed 247 times for 947yds, 7TDs and 2 fumbles. Moreno followed up that performance with 184 carries for 779yds, 5TDs and 2 lost fumbles in 2010. For Moreno in his rookie year to almost break 1000yds was pretty impressive, and remember that 2010 began the use of Tim Tebow in the run game, while Correll Buckhalter and Lance Ball began to share the load.
So why is it that the Broncos went away from Moreno as a primary back? His average went up from 2009 to 2010, he only lost two fumbles each year, and garnered plenty of first down runs. When John Fox came to coach in 2011, Moreno did not profile as a typical hard running back that could move the chains and blow open a hole. So the Broncos brought in McGahee as the primary back, and Moreno’s carries virtually disappeared.
Maybe it wasn’t Moreno’s fault all along, when his best year was the year he was the primary back, and he actually delivered. Now, being resurrected after eight games on the inactive list, Moreno has finally come back to life as the primary option in the backfield, and he is delivering again. In games against the Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Ravens the past two weeks, Moreno has rushed for 119 and 118 yards, respectively, while scoring a TD in each game while also catching out of the backfield.
Maybe Fox and John Elway were wrong the whole time. Quite possibly, the Broncos could have had one of the best two-back tandems in the league with McGahee and Moreno if they allowed the opportunity to develop more. Moreno was jumped on the depth chart in 2010 and 2011 for Tebow and Ball, for what the team may have claimed as fumbling issues, but all of a sudden Moreno is showing flashes of an athleticism that hasn’t had time to develop.
Let me point out this. McGahee has more fumbles lost(7) in 2011 and 2012 than Moreno(6) has had since 2009. So if it is not about the fumbling, then maybe the two John’s, Fox and Elway, should just admit they might have made a mistake with Moreno by not utilizing him the right way. If the past two games are any indication, Moreno should be a solid option the rest of the way as the Broncos get ready for the playoffs. Now the only question remains: What do they do with McGahee if and when he is able to return?
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