The Denver Broncos brought Melvin Gordon back this week to pair with second-year rusher Javonte Williams. While fantasy football heads might be frustrated by the move, new offensive coordinator Justin Outten sees a duo similar to the Aaron Jones-AJ Dillon combo he worked with in Green Bay.
"It's kind of almost by the feel of the game," Outten said Wednesday when asked about splitting reps, via the official team transcript. "It's kind of a similar situation to what we had in Green Bay with a speedier guy and a downhill guy. You want to utilize those guys because it is a long season. You don't want to bang them up. You want to be smart with them, use their strengths, put them out on the field, and make them work. We're excited to have both those guys."
Last year, Williams rushed 203 times for 903 yards and four TDs, while Gordon went for 918 yards and eight scores on 203 carries.
While the Broncos are installing a new system under Nathaniel Hackett and Outten, re-signing Gordon gives Denver the chance to keep both backs fresh, even if the carries aren't as evenly split as last year.
"With him being in the system, it's going to be another opportunity for us to get another guy back there to run the outside zone in third-down situations," Outten said. "It’s about] having that 1-2 punch. All those guys are working their tail off as well. You have [Mike Boone and [Damarea] Crockett. Those guys are really putting in the work, so it'll be exciting to get him on the field as well."
Before re-signing Gordon, Williams was set to carry the load. After an impressive rookie season, Williams proved he deserves a bigger role. If he improves in his pass blocking, we'd expect Williams to still out-snap Gordon, given his higher upside. But Outten has no plans to declare a starter in April.
"I'm not saying that," he said when asked if Williams would be the starting back. "I'm saying guys are going to be on the field that can change up the game with their pace and with fresh legs. There's not necessarily a one and a two right now."