In the 2011 NFL season, Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee rushed for 1199 yards on 4.8 yards per carry, but the 30-year-old veteran is raising the bar even higher now that star quarterback Peyton Manning has joined the team. McGahee posted his highest rushing yards total since 2007 with the Buffalo Bills, and the second-highest yards per carry average of his entire pro career, but he is predicting an even better season in 2012.
Age is typically unkind to NFL running backs, and the truth of being 30 years old is something no tailback ever wants to think about, but McGahee has already set his goal to rush for more than 1,200 yards in the upcoming season. So much for modest expectations, eh? In speaking with Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post, the McGahee set out some fairly sensible reasoning to underpin his lofty goal:
"My goal is to do better than I did last year," McGahee told me. "And that means I've got to get past 1,200 yards. With Peyton coming to Denver, I don't have to worry about nine defenders in the box."
"There were times when Tebow could've given the ball to me, but he kept it. And there were times when he was supposed to keep it, but he gave it. When you're running the option, there can't be any hesitation. I call it running on blind faith."
"I still figure this team will be leading the AFC in rushing. "I don't think [Manning] wants to throw all the balls like he did in the past."
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Manning is a cerebral quarterback that loves to audible and is a threat to beat press coverage and blitzes at any time, and he will likely do a better job of keeping McGahee out of hopeless running situations by changing the play when necessary, so perhaps losing Tim Tebow will make the running offense more effective. It will be difficult to rack up the same yardage as last season, but there is a sensible argument for how McGahee could maintain or improve his efficiency on running plays. As for the 1,200-yard thing, it's another level of intrigue added to an already compelling Broncos season.
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