Broncos Know They Need More Moreno
By Daniel Calzone
Come playoff time in the NFL, it always seems as if a team’s running game becomes more important than it was during the regular season. The most prevalent memory I have of this is when Edgerrin James ran wild for the Arizona Cardinals in the playoffs four years ago after playing only a limited role for the club during the season. An offense that included Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin didn't find itself needing to run the ball in order to win games very often."The Edge" proved to be a key component toward the Cards reaching the Super Bowl that season. When you get to the playoffs, you need to be well-rounded, and you need to be able to run the ball. The Denver Broncos’ passing attack is at an elite level this season, but Knowshon Moreno's re-emergence as an “every-down” type of back is what will likely dictate just how far the Broncos go this season.
Coming into the season, the running back situation in Denver was completely up in the air. Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman and Moreno all figured to get their fair share of opportunities. As an avid fantasy player, I chose to stay away from the Denver running backs in fear of choosing the wrong one and being stuck with a benchwarmer. However, if I had to take one, I would have chosen Moreno. What seemed like a giant question mark in the preseason has now been stabilized a bit. Moreno has 3 TD this season entering Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys and is averaging 5.2 yards per carry. His 46 rushing attempts lead the Broncos, and it is obvious that the coaching staff has faith in him. The Denver running backs need to take advantage of the Peyton Manning-induced cover-2 schemes being run against the Broncos. With so much focus on that vaunted passing game, Moreno has found success in recent weeks by making the most of his carries, and keeping defenses honest. A team can be one-dimensional only for so long in this league, and the fact that Moreno has been playing well only feeds into what coach John Fox and Manning want to accomplish on offense. He is a more gifted runner than both Ball and Hillman, and the Broncos are keeping their fingers crossed that he doesn’t fall victim injury.
Who can forget when Moreno jumped clear over a Central Michigan defender when he was playing for the Georgia Bulldogs in college? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3Yur-46blE) The guy has always had raw talent, but has been hindered by injuries, and a lack of opportunities. It is true that Moreno played rock-paper-scissors with his fellow running backs to decide who would punch the ball in for a touchdown late in their Monday night rout of the Raiders a couple of weeks ago. The Broncos aren't going to want to leave anything to chance when they start playing elimination games. Denver’s passing attack is amazing, but every team needs a running back to make plays at some point, and Moreno is the guy to make those plays. He will be in there on most of the big plays that define a season, and his ability to complete a third-and-4 on a halfback draw could be just the type of play that determines if the Broncos win or lose a playoff game.