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Why the Broncos' Season Hinges on Royce Freeman

After carrying the Oregon offense for his entire collegiate career, Freeman may face the same task in Denver. — by Tyler Davis
After carrying the Oregon offense for his entire collegiate career, Freeman may face the same task in Denver. — by Tyler Davis

The Broncos were one of the teams that shocked the NFL world last year with how horrible their season went. Plagued by turnovers and bad offensive line play, the Broncos offense cost them game after game. Now with a fresh roster, the Broncos are looking to turn their fortunes around. And in order for them to do this, many fans are looking to new quarterback Case Keenum for all of the answers.

The key to the Broncos succees this season will lay heavily on Keenum (don't get me wrong), but the weight may be felt even more by rookie running back, Royce Freeman. This will happen because of how the Broncos are built this season. Keenum is an excellent quarterback, but struggled early on in his career behind shaky lines and surrounded by sub-par talent. Once he was surrounded by a supporting cast with the likes of Adam Thielan and Stefan Diggs, he exploded onto the scene by leading the Vikings to the NFC Championship game, and taking part in one of their most historic plays.

So in order for the Broncos to succeed, they need to support Keenum. They did this by trading for Jared Veldheer to play right tackle. But the bigger addition was Royce Freeman. With him on the roster, the Broncos can actually reach their potential. The Broncos are built to be a smash-mouth team that kills your spirit on defense and slowly drains the life from you on offense. They are built to run the ball and have a coordinator that is not afraid to build his game-plan that way. They are built to control the clock on offense and run the ball 30 times a game.

Freeman is used to being the workhorse, after carrying the load for Oregon for the past four years. All but one year he carried the ball at least 240 times. And each of those years he turned in outstanding performances, never failing to run for at least 1360 yards and 16 touchdowns. That is mighty impressive for the big 231 pounder.

So with the Broncos entering the Keenum era, they may be actually entering the Freeman era. They have a mauling line that is better in the running game than in the passing game, and they have a mean runner that gashes defenses. This should help leave lanes open for Keenum and company in the passing game. The Broncos have the chance to make a run in the strong AFC West, but they will only be able to do so on the back of Freeman as he carries the offense and keeps the opposing offense off the field. Look for a truly special career from this third rounder if the Broncos are smart enough to feed him the ball.