Wanna spark the slow-starting Broncos’ offense? Give Phillip Lindsay the dang rock! – The Denver Post

Wanna spark the slow-starting Broncos’ offense? Give Phillip Lindsay the dang rock! – The Denver Post

Want to jump-start the Broncos’ offense?

Don’t overthink it, knucklehead.

Give Phillip Lindsay the dang rock!

The spark that’s been missing from the team’s painfully slow starts to games is a 5-foot-8, 190-pound fireplug. Why leave the Energizer Bunny on the sideline? Let Lindsay bang the drum for marches to the end zone.

A Denver offense in need of a stronger identity than abject four-quarter panic needs to take the pressure off young quarterback Drew Lock and re-establish its physicality.

“Let’s just face it: The team that can run the ball the best is going to win the game. That’s just how it goes, because you set the tempo and you set the tone. You’re physical, you’re pushing it down the field, you’re punching them in the face. On top of that, you’re taking clock away,” Lindsay said Wednesday.

“There’s only a handful, maybe one or two teams that can live off the pass 24/7. That’s just not how it is. Football is a game of inches, we all know that. And football has always been about running the football. That’s how you have to win games. You win games by controlling the clock, running the football and making big plays.”

Even a knucklehead like me can see that the Broncos should be a run-first team. Play-action is the best friend of a QB like Lock, who’s constantly itching to throw it deep over a defender’s head.

OK, I’m not advocating for Denver to turn back the clock to the 1960s and install the Lombardi power sweep. Everybody knows you have to pass effectively in 2020, when only three of 32 league teams are currently running on more than 50 percent of all offensive snaps.

But I hold this truth to be self-evident: Lindsay runs the ball better than Lock throws it. So why doesn’t offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur lean more on his team’s strength? Beats me.

The Broncos are throwing the football 60.54% of the time. The Packers, who have some dude named Aaron Rodgers playing quarterback, are throwing it 56.64% of the time. This does not compute. Could the math being employed by Shurmur be wrong?

Yes, Denver’s recent nasty of habit of walking on the field and falling in a hole before halftime has inflated the number of passing attempts for Lock. But I ain’t buying the suggestion Denver, whose completion percentage ranks dead last in the league, should give even more responsibility to its young quarterback, because Lock’s gunslinger tendencies don’t need further encouragement.

Even without injured edge-rusher Von Miller or an ill Shelby Harris, the strength of this team remains defense. If the Broncos are trying to win games 31-30 on a consistent basis, they’re doing it wrong. If Shurmur wants to mix in more uptempo, there’s nothing that prevents him from getting to the line of scrimmage with more urgency to run the ball.

At 5.8 yards per rushing attempt, Lindsay ranks fourth among all NFL backs. The Broncos can use him more, without running Lindsay into the ground. Maybe personnel chief John Elway still feels the urge to justify over-spending to acquire Melvin Gordon, but Elway loves nothing more than winning.

And when Lindsay rushes for 100 yards, the Broncos win. (It’s true. Look it up.)

This is not a demand to get Lindsay 20 touches per game, because nobody wants to break him. But as Denver fell far behind in the opening half against both the Chargers and Falcons with the offense stuck in neutral, Lindsay got only five touches and two pass targets. In two games. Combined. That’s a waste of a playmaker’s talents.

Gordon does bring attributes to the Denver huddle that Lindsay does not. Gordon runs bigger in short yardage, blocks better in pass protection and catches the ball more reliably.

Sounds like an ideal situational back to me.

But in the games against the Chargers and Falcons, Gordon played 80 cumulative snaps to Lindsay’s 57. If production carrying the rock is what matters most, the division of playing time between Lindsay and Gordon should be reversed.

Every running back likes to get in the flow, with sufficient touches to instinctively feel where the wide-open spaces are in a defense on any given Sunday. I asked Lindsay the challenge of finding his rhythm in his role of No. 1B in this tandem.