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Rich Scangarello sheds light on his plan for the weapon that "excited me from the day I walked in the door"

Zac Stevens Avatar
July 21, 2019

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Phillip Lindsay’s made a living on shattering expectations.

Yet time and time again, he’s all but forgotten outside of his loyal local fanbase.

Despite his 1,000-yard rookie season last year, many around the country have pooh-poohed his development and written him off as a nice, cute story. A one-year wonder.

Not in Denver. Not with his new boss Rich Scangarello.

“One of the great things about coming to Denver that really excited me from the day I walked in the door is there are very few players in the league like Phillip that have the ability to win a one-on-one matchup at any time,” Scangarello praised unsolicited.

“There are very few players in the league like Phillip.” That’s more like it.

And in terms of winning one-on-one matchups anytime, anyplace, Phil’s proven he’s just the man for the job.

That’s precisely what he did on Sunday during Denver’s fourth training camp practice.

During a goal-line drill, No. 30 was spread out to the right side. The play had one read and one read-only—get the ball to Phil ASAP. At the snap, Kevin Hogan quick passed the ball to Lindsay. After easily hauling it in, Lindsay had one man standing between him and the end zone.

You can guess what happened after that.

All it took was a quick shimmy and Phil was trotting into the end zone on his way to pumping up his Colorado crowd as they erupted for their hometown kid. It was a little Phil Lindsay shake-and-bake special.

“I think that the easiest matchup to create in the NFL is the halfback on a linebacker and that’s what we try and do in this offense a lot,” Scangarello said, singing beautiful music to Bronco fans’ ears. “I think he has that gift and that ability and those traits. So excited to try and do that and try and force defenses to put a DB on him and open up other players.”

You and Broncos Country both, Rich.

Not only will Lindsay be a weapon in these matchups, but he’ll be a decoy as well—forcing team’s to play into Denver’s hand. If opponents leave a linebacker on Lindsay, the choice for Flacco will be easy, Phil all day long.

If they do adjust and put a defensive back on him, then again, it’ll be easy, take advantage of that part of the field or player that defensive back was forced to come away from.

After one year, Lindsay’s already turned himself into a decoy, along with being a weapon.

But it’s not all going to be on Lindsay. Batman’s got his Robin.

“Royce and Lindsay are perfect compliments,” Scangarello said with excitement. “It kind of reminds me of Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman in Atlanta. They are different skill sets. They are both talented in their own way. Both be able to use them with their strengths so that they can be the best player they can be.”

On Sunday, “Scangs,” as some have nicknamed him, was spitting pure fire.

A Coleman-Freeman combo circa 2016 looked like nearly 2,500 yards from scrimmage and a whopping 24 total touchdowns. One year later, that same duo topped 2,100 yards from scrimmage with 16 touchdowns.

Not too shabby of a comparison to have.

“Royce is big, he’s physical in pass protection—that’s a big deal in the NFL, the durability that comes with it,” Scangarello elaborated. “As far as running the football and the scheme, they both can do it, one’s just going to do it probably with a little more physicality and the other is going to make you miss… They are both different, but they can both do the same things in different ways.”

The Broncos know this combo all too well from before their time with Royce and Phil.

In fact, one year after Scangarello spent a season with Coleman and Freeman in Atlanta as the team’s offensive quality control coach, the Falcons taught the Broncos this lesson in the most painful way possible.

Riding high as undefeated 4-0 reigning Super Bowl Champs, Coleman and Freeman nearly singlehandedly handed Denver their first loss on the season, while also putting out a formula on how to take down the champs.

On Oct. 9, 2016, Freeman and Coleman combined for 119 rushing yards, 167 receiving yards and two touchdowns for a mind-blowing 286 yards from scrimmage. All from two players in a single game.

While Freeman was the starter, the biggest asset Kyle Shanahan—who Scangarello models his offense after—had that afternoon in the Mile High City was Coleman, who he lined up, you guessed it, on linebackers all day long. The success was jarring—132 receiving yards on four catches and a touchdown.

That’s what Scangarello has in mind for Phillip Lindsay.

Despite topping 1,000 rushing yards as a backup for half the season last year, Lindsay only played in 42 percent of the team’s offensive snaps.

So the natural question that arises is, what gives? Why take the Colorado native off the field?

“You don’t want Lindsay—a little smaller guy—to have to take A-gap pressure from linebackers on a regular basis,” Scangarello explained. “To be able to share the load and put those guys in position to do something they can do better, that’s our job. That’s what Royce brings. He’s just a physical dude. He’s smart. He’s instinctive.”

And Phillip? Well, he’s just one of the best in the league at making people miss.


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