Mar 2, 2007
There are certainly a lot of angles to take on the trade that will be official today between the Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos. You can make the argument that the Lions are worried about starter Kevin Jones’ availability for the start of the season, and you can be intrigued by Bell’s potential in an offense led by Mike Martz. You can focus on the best player in the deal, CB Dre Bly, and how he and Champ Bailey could be the best tandem in the league.
You can focus, of course, on Mike Bell, the last Bell standing in Denver, and how he’s the guy as of right now. I say “as of right now” because I don’t expect him to be the guy come the summer. Head coach Mike Shanahan gave up on Tatum Bell, and my feeling now is that he’s also given up on the notion he can get by with a committee at RB. A committee worked out well in 2005 with Tatum and Mike Anderson, but before that year, Shanahan always preferred to feature one back: Terrell Davis, Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, and then Clinton Portis. In 2006, his committee was an absolute nightmare. Tatum was solid early in the season, but once it was clear (again) that he’s not a viable featured back and is much better off the bench in a complementary role, their backfield became chaotic.
I’m focusing on on Denver’s RB situation and the liklihood they finally have a back we can count on.
Mike Bell did a good job at times last year. But with Mike, similar to Tatum, you’re hoping he can get the job done, as opposed to featuring a guy you know will. He’ll have a big game averaging, say, 5.0 yards a carry, and then the next week he’ll tote it for like 2.0 yards per carry. He simply doesn’t have the speed, burst, and explosiveness of a quality starter, especially one for Shanahan. That’s why he wasn’t even drafted. Bell, however, should be a nice backup for the team. Cedric Cobbs is still on the roster and has a lot of talent, but he’s still considered raw and has some other issues, such as durability and even some questions about his character. So I don’t think he’s a factor here.
So, all signs point to the Broncos bringing in a front-line back, and I think they do it in the draft. This organization has a habit of pulling off some big moves, such as their acquisition of WR Javon Walker, and I expect them to find a way to bring in a back in this year’s draft that is very close to a can’t-miss guy. In fact, that they traded Bell might be a sign that they have their guy in mind, and feel they can get him. Yes, they could bring in a veteran free agent such as Chris Brown, Jamal Lewis, or Ahman Green, but I think they look to the draft.
I highly doubt they will be able to pull off a deal to get Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson, the jewel of the draft at the position, but Cal’s Marshawn Lynch could easily be there for them in the first, or they could move up in the 2nd for Louisville’s Michael Bush. Lynch and Bush don’t appear to be slam-dunks, but both appear to be good fits for Denver with the potential to step in and put up big numbers right away.
But the bottom line is this: I think the days of a RB committee in Denver are over, and I’m thinking the days of frustration caused by the team’s uncertain situation at the position will be over, too.