On NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football,” Peter Schrager listed his top-10 breakout players for the upcoming season. Every August Schrager puts out his list and this year, he had some high praise for Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams.
Schrager named Williams as his number one breakout player for the 2022 NFL season.
“You want to talk about a guy who gave us just a taste last season, there is so much more meat on the bone.” Schrager added, “When I tell you, the offense that Nathaniel Hackett is going to bring with Russell Wilson at quarterback and this guy [Williams] as the lead dog, I am talking about a sensation.”
Williams had an exciting rookie season that became a fan favorite for Broncos Country. As a rookie, Williams scored seven total touchdowns that ranked third among rookie running backs.
Last season Williams was one of the toughest running backs to take down will the ball in his hand. According to Pro Football Focus, the former North Carolina Tar Heel had 63 missed tackles. That ranked second among all running backs in the NFL and he only trailed Indianapolis Colts All-Pro Jonathan Taylor with 66 missed tackles.
Will Williams Lead the NFL in Rushing?
While praising Williams as his number one breakout player, Schrager also mentioned that he thinks the second-year running back will lead the NFL in rushing yards this season.
As a rookie last year, Williams rushed for 903 yards which ranked third among rookie running backs. Williams only trailed Najee Harris of the Steelers and Elijah Mitchell of the 49ers.
“Throughout [last] season, there would be these flashes where Williams was getting plays like he’s not supposed to do that.” Schrager continued that in year-two Williams is “a little bit wiser, a little bit stronger, and a little bit faster.”
Last season, Williams split carries exactly 50/50 with Melvin Gordon. This season under Nathaniel Hackett’s zone running scheme, Williams is the clear No. 1 running back and has shown that in training camp getting a majority of the first-team reps.
When the second-year running back was asked if he had any personal goals this season, Williams responded, “I’m just trying to win the Super Bowl. That’s it.”
The Broncos haven’t had a running back lead the NFL in rushing since Terrell Davis rushed for 2,008 yards back in the 1998 season. Davis would win the league MVP and lead Denver to their second Super Bowl victory in back-to-back years.
This year, Williams can end that streak and he has the same offensive scheme that Davis had.
Denver’s Offense is Built for the Run Game
This season, Hackett will bring the “West Coast” back to Denver. This is the same offense that his father, Paul Hackett, used to run. The offense was successful under former 49ers head coach Joe Walsh and then improved by former Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan.
Currently there are nine teams running the offense that have coaches that are connected to Shanahan. Last season, three of the four teams that played in the conference championship games came from the “Shanahan Tree.” Both Zac Taylor’s Bengals and Sean McVay’s Rams run the same offense and ended up battling in the Super Bowl.
Three of the top five rushing yard leaders last season were running backs that came out of the zone blocking scheme focused on in the west coast offense.
It’s fair to say that there’s a lot of hype surrounding Williams and the Denver offense this season.