Two Backs are better than One

Brian Tarcy takes an inside look at the Denver Broncos philosophy of "Running Back by Committee", featuring Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell, quite possibly the best tandem in the business.

The tandem of Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell pull off what most running back combos in the NFL seem unable to do, that's co-exist. With Anderson and Bell taking turns punishing and out running opposing "D"s; the Broncos have a good chance powering to the playoffs and maybe even speeding all the way to Detroit.

"Running back by committee" theories usually just bruise back's egos and breeds animosity among teammates, Anderson and Bell seem to have found a level playing field on which to coexist. Shannahan has his star backs believing in the good of the team over the good of individual numbers that usually equal bonus money for a player.

On a football team that's used to having just one feature back, such as Terrell Davis and Clinton Portis, Shannahan has found a way to make the two-back system work to the benefit of the Denver Broncos. He has found the elusive recipe for a successful two back system that has eluded other coaches throughout NFL history. Coaches such as Fassel, with "Thunder and Lightning" (Dayne and Barber) backfield, Schottenhiemer with whatever array of backs he carried in Cleveland, or Cunningham with the hodge podge group of misfits Kansas City had before they acquired Holmes.

Anderson and Bell each bring the perfect ingredients to make a productive 2-man backfield, power and speed, and not just power and speed.

Let me explain. Mike Anderson brings the power to punish the opposing defense for three quarters of play, but if you fail to bring the former Marine down before he gets into the secondary, he will take it to the house. Bell on the other hand has the pure break away speed that scares defenses, but with a head of steam he can also lay a lick on someone. They are not so specialized they are obsolete at any time during the game. That's what makes them dangerous, their versatility.

Shannahan has found the perfect way to fire his double barrel shotgun this season. Use Anderson to weaken the legs of the "D"line with his elusiveness, rattle the brains of the linebackers with his never say die running style, and zap the energy of the secondary. Then bring in Tatum Bell with his razor sharp cuts and blazing speed to deliver the knock out blow!

This style of play calling was apparent during the Philadelphia game. Anderson rushed 21 times for 126 yards and 1 touchdown. These numbers show the hard-work-yards that exemplifies the running style that earned him rookie of the year honors in 2000.

Bell's numbers on the other hand show something completely different. The second year player from Oklahoma Sate ran the ball 14 times for 107 yards and 2 touchdowns. One of his touchdowns was 67 yards, and showed just how fast he is, and just how tired Anderson had made the Eagles defense.

If the under rated offensive line of the Broncos can stay healthy, along with Anderson and Bell, there is no reason why both men shouldn't end up with 1000 yards on the season. If both men end up with 1000 yards on the season, then the Broncos have a chance to reach the Super Bowl in Detroit.

Got something to say? Voice your opinion on our Broncos Hardcore Message Board

Mile High Huddle Top Stories