You may not have realized with all the coverage of Tim Tebow, but the Denver Broncos running game has been pretty spectacular this season.
The Broncos have rushed for a league leading 2,632 yards, averaging 164.5 per game in 546 attempts. The only other team to run more than 500 times is the Baltimore Ravens opponent this week, the Houston Texans.
A critical part of Denver’s success on the ground has been former Ravens running back Willis McGahee, who rushed for 1,199 yards this season. McGahee was cut by the Ravens before the season began and he told the NFL Network’s Michael Irvin that his release left a bad taste in his mouth about the Baltimore organization.
“I got a letter from Baltimore, you know when they release you,” McGahee told Irvin. “It said, ‘unable to perform to the abilities of other running backs.'” Irvin responded saying that he had never seen anything like that during his playing days. “I’ve never seen nothing like that either so I was like ‘what.'”
In four years in Baltimore, McGahee rushed for over 1,000 yards in just one of those years, 2007. The Ravens leaned heavily on the former Bill that season, handing him the ball 294 times. But in 2008, Ray Rice’s arrival put McGahee on the back burner before his eventual release after the NFL lockout.
“It feels good because you know a lot of people counted me out coming into this year.”
Baltimore added Ricky Williams as Rice’s backup this season and the 11 year veteran has been a great fill-in. Williams has averaged 4.1 yards per attempt and carried the ball 108 times this season.
When the Ravens acquired McGahee from Buffalo, he signed a seven-year contract with the last two seasons being option years. At the time he was one of the NFL’s five highest-paid backs and was due to make $6 million in 2011.
In comparison, Williams signed a two year deal worth $2.6 million in Baltimore. He’s due to make $1.5 million for the Ravens next season.
If McGahee and the Broncos can go into Denver and do what the Ravens did to the Patriots in 2009 (rush for 234 yards and 4 touchdowns) you have to wonder if the Baltimore organization gave up on McGahee too soon.