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Did Melvin Gordon live up to expectations his first year with the Broncos?

Zac Stevens Avatar
January 29, 2021

Melvin Gordon’s been one of the most talked about names in town from the day he became a Denver Bronco on Mar. 26, 2020.

Gordon’s $8 million per year salary instantly made him one of NFL’s 10 highest paid running backs and brought along lofty expectations as the Broncos already had a Pro Bowl running back, Phillip Lindsay, on their roster.

Did the former Los Angeles Charger do enough to live up to the high expectations? Here’s how Gordon’s first season in Orange & Blue panned out.

Expectations entering the season: 825 rushing yards; 4.2 yards per carry; 55 receptions; 550 receiving yards; 9 total touchdowns

Actual output in 2020: 986 rushing yards; 4.6 yards per carry; 32 receptions; 158 receiving yards; 10 total touchdowns

Did he live up to expectations? Yes

As a runner, Melvin Gordon had arguably the second-best season of his career in 2020. The most impressive part about his season was the way he finished the year.

In the first 11 weeks of the season, in which he missed his only game of the season due to a non-COVID-19 illness, Gordon was having a fine year as he averaged 4.29 yards per carry, had six rushing touchdowns and was on pace for roughly just under 900 rushing yards. The biggest issue was he had four fumbles, all of which the Broncos lost. All in all his first half of the season was fine.

But after the Week 12 fiasco against the New Orleans Saints, in which the Broncos didn’t have a quarterback, Gordon took off. In the final five games of the season, the former first-round pick was unquestionably Denver’s best running back.

In that stretch, Gordon averaged a whopping 5.3 yards per carry, had three rushing touchdowns and had 432 rushing yards—a pace of 1,382 yards over the course of 16 games. Additionally, Gordon didn’t have a single fumble down the stretch. Gordon finished the season with the 10th-most rushing yards in the NFL, despite sharing the backfield with Lindsay.

At the same time, however, Gordon had his least productive season as a receiver out of the backfield. While Gordon did bring in 73 percent of the passes his way, he had a career-low 4.9 yards per reception.

Before the season, Gordon was expected to be a dominant receiver out of the backfield and share the workload with Lindsay on the ground. In the end, Gordon carried the duo on the ground, while neither were much of a threat through the air.

Thanks to a hot finish, Gordon proved John Elway right.


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