ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Melvin Gordon’s butterfingers have become a hazard for the Denver Broncos, especially with Javonte Williams’ season-ending knee injury and Mike Boone’s problems picking up the blitz and holding onto passes.
The Broncos (2-2) have a condensed week to fix their backfield bugaboos ahead of their game Thursday night against Indianapolis (1-2-1).
Gordon’s latest flub changed the tenor of the Broncos’ game at Las Vegas, where they lost to the league’s only 0-3 team and their former coach Josh McDaniels while also losing Williams and Randy Gregory to knee injuries.
Gordon was crestfallen on the sideline after fumbling on his first carry and watching cornerback Amik Robertson return it for a 68-yard touchdown that jump-started the Raiders’ 32-23 win.
Gordon drew plenty of kudos from reporters for being a standup guy and taking questions afterward — but he walked off the podium without responding when asked about working on ball security last week following a pair of fumbles against the 49ers.
“In the end, you can’t put the ball on the ground. It’s that simple,” Nathaniel Hackett said after the game.
A day later, Hackett was pumping up his dejected running back ahead of Thursday night’s game against the Colts.
Meanwhile, Colts coach Frank Reich continues to insist Indianapolis needs to be a run-first team.
His approach generally worked during his first four seasons. Now, though, everything seems to be out of sync.
New quarterback Matt Ryan is struggling with turnovers, a revamped offensive line has not met expectations, and a young, unproven group of receivers continues to battle inconsistency. Worst of all, Indy’s strong ground game has hit a rut.
“If you go back and look at all our runs on first down, a lot of second-and-longs and some third-and-longs,” Reich said Monday. “I feel very confident we’re going to get the run game going. We have a good process, the way we scheme plays, the way we teach it, the players we have. We’re making adjustments to players. You guys know how we say it, it takes all 11 in the run game.”
So far, Indy (1-2-1) has been unable to overcome the mounting obstacles.
Jonathan Taylor, last year’s NFL rushing champ, has one 100-yard game and scored once in the season’s first month while averaging a meager 3.34 yards per carry over the past three weeks.
And after a toe injury limited his practice time last week, Taylor left Sunday’s 24-17 loss to Tennessee with an ankle injury that could keep him out of Thursday’s game at Denver (2-2). If he can’t play, the Colts will likely split time between Nyheim Hines and former Bronco Phillip Lindsay.