BY KALLE SORBO
It’s no longer a good story.
At the beginning of this season I wrote a story about Undrafted Rookie Phillip Lindsay’s journey to the Broncos 53-man roster. He is playing for his hometown team, and it was a great underdog story.
It is no longer just a good story.
The Broncos felt good about Phillip Lindsay heading into training camp this year. They had high hopes he would make the roster, and be a contributor on the team as a third down, change of pace back. No one could have imagined what would happen next. Even die hard CU Buff fans, who have been rooting for Phillip from the beginning, couldn’t have imagined what he was going to become.
Phillip Lindsay is one of the best running backs in the NFL. Full Stop. There is no other way to put it. He is a three-down back and is doing the heavy lifting for the Broncos Offense. He does do by being shifty and his habit of falling forward upon contact. He has a great combination of vision, speed, and elusiveness. The rookie has the ability to make a cut and then turn on the jets making plays in the open field. Even when he runs into what appears to be a wall he’ll miraculously come up with four or five yards. He’s dangerous between the tackles, and on the perimeter.
The Broncos drafted Royce Freeman out of Oregon in the third round to replace CJ Anderson, who they released his summer. The Broncos front office saw what he could do at Oregon, and was supposed to be the franchise’s long term answer at the position. He was injured in the team’s week 7 win over Arizona, and it’s been the Phillip Lindsay show ever since.
Phillip Lindsay is the fourth leading rusher in the NFL right now with 937 yards on the season. He is second among rookies, but 20 yards away from first. What is astounding about that is he has done it on only 154 carries. The running backs ahead of him on that list average 222. The rookie is averaging 6.4 yards per carry, which is second in the NFL.
This weekend Lindsay put up 157 yards on just 19 attempts for an astounding average of 8.3 yards per carry. He has six touchdowns in the last five weeks and is on pace for at least 1,100 yards this season. He has eight plays of 20+ yards this season. He needs to average just 65 yards a game for the rest of the year to break the rookie rushing record for an Undrafted Free Agent in the NFL. All of this is happening in an NFL that is more pass-happy than ever before.
Here is a list of notable running backs that Phillip Lindsay is outrushing:
That is not a bad company to be in. The only rookie that is outrushing Lindsay is Saquon Barkley, who has 17 more yards on 41 more carries. What is notable is that Phillip Lindsay got a $15,000 signing bonus, and Saquon Barkley’s was $21 million. It’s time to stop comparing Phillip Lindsay to other running backs, and to start comparing other running backs to Phillip Lindsay.
What has happened is an indictment on the entire NFL, including the Broncos. Phillip Lindsay was not invited to the NFL scouting combine. He was passed on by 32 NFL teams seven times. The Broncos themselves drafted two running backs ahead of him. I don’t know how in the world he went unnoticed, but the bottom line is this. It isn’t a fluke, or a flash in the pan. We are 13 weeks into the season and he is still putting up monster numbers. Phillip Lindsay has put the NFL on notice. He is here to stay.
He might not win Offensive Rookie of the Year, which appears to be Barkley’s award to lose. But what Lindsay has done this season has been nothing short of sensational. It’s one of the best stories I’ve seen in the NFL in years. It’s only fitting that he is wearing No. 30, the number worn by Hall of Famer Terrell Davis who was a sixth-round Cinderella story himself. Maybe the number is good luck, or maybe Lindsay is just that good. I’d put my bets on the latter. Lindsay still lives with his parents. That won’t be for long.