Melvin Gordon’s game-clinching 43-yard touchdown scamper on Thursday night showed exactly why Denver Broncos' GM John Elway paid so handsomely to secure the running back's services. Gordon also carried the bulk of the load on prime time as the Broncos decided to sit co-starter Phillip Lindsay instead of risking his health too early.
Head coach Vic Fangio revealed on Friday that Lindsay was ready to go, but the reins were being held firmly due to the lack of practice time.
“Lindsay, for sure. Phillip could’ve played last night,” Fangio said on Friday. “He was ready to play mentally and physically but I didn’t feel comfortable playing him without any practice.”
With the NFL consensus being that the playing surface at MetLife Stadium has been a big factor in players suffering serious injury this season, Fangio erred on the side of caution. However, just ask Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers about MetLife's playing surface.
Fangio pointed to the short week of preparation to explain the reasoning behind giving Lindsay one additional week to get back into game shape after suffering his turf-toe injury in Week 1.
“He essentially hasn’t practiced since sustaining the injury, and last week’s practices were all walk through type practices,” Fangio said. “I didn’t think it would be a fair thing to play him, nor the prudent thing, so we didn’t play him, and he should be able to play this week.”
Ultimately, the decision proved to be a wise one with Lindsay getting that extra time to get back to 100 percent. Meanwhile, the added snaps provided Gordon his first 100-yard rushing game as a Bronco and the clinching score in a crucial road victory.
Broncos Country will be re-energized by the first win of 2020 and will be looking forward to the return of their hometown favorite to provide that dynamic dual-threat backfield.
Playing even more complementary football and winning the time-of-possession battle will be a wise tactic to employ with the NEw England Patriots up next on the schedule for the Broncos. It would also serve to protect relatively untested QB Brett Rypien should Drew Lock’s shoulder injury keep him out of Week 5's action.
More encouragement that the running game might come good with the return of Lindsay came on Thursday with the Broncos' offensive line playing more consistently. Left tackle Garett Bolles' strong play so far also singled him out for some notable praise from Fangio.
“I think Garett’s played well this season,” Fangio said. “I think he’s been called for only two penalties and one of them was a bad call that shouldn’t have been called. I think he’s played well, and he’s played dinged up, too.”
As Bolles continues to grind out the solid performances, the hope is that it’ll begin to rub off on his underperforming line mates, a notion that frankly would have seemed totally ridiculous only a few short weeks ago. The return of Lindsay and the in-form Gordon running behind even a serviceable O-line is something that could bear serious fruit for the Broncos in the weeks ahead.