Posted Thu Jan 7th by Monty
It was a tough year for Peyton Hillis. After leading the team in rushing yards in 2008, Hillis saw his role reduced in 2009, seeing most of his playing time in special teams while getting the occasional carry as the team’s third-string tailback.
Things were so tough, in fact, that Hillis told KDVR’s Josina Anderson that he isn’t sure if the Denver Broncos are the best team for him anymore.
“I guess it would all depend on if things would change,” Hillis said. “I don’t really know what will happen at this point.”
Hillis is under contract with the Broncos in 2010, unlike other big-name Broncos whose futures are uncertain, so for him to even question his future in Denver speaks volumes. Hillis’ main issue isn’t the city or even the team — “I love being a Bronco, and I love this city,” he said — it’s his playing time. So why didn’t he see more of it?
Hillis mentioned the oft-speculated distinction between “Mike Shanahan guys” and “Josh McDaniels guys,” saying that a player like running back Knowshon Moreno got more opportunities because of his draft status and relationship with the head coach.
“Well when you get a new head coach, a new philosophy, a new scheme, and he brings all of his new guys, you’re probably going to have to accept that you might have to take a backseat,” said Hillis. “I’m just the type of guy that continues to work hard and the guy that continues to hope that eventually my coaches will see my potential and talent. When it comes to Knowshon, obviously (McDaniels) drafted him so he is going to get more opportunities.”
After rushing for a team-best 343 yards on 68 carries in 2008 (5.0 avg.), Hillis received a mere 13 carries in 2009, rushing for 54 yards (4.2 avg.). In his rookie year, Moreno had 247 carries for 947 yards and a disappointing 3.7 ypc.
“I went from doing really good things for this team to not doing anything,” said Hillis, “and I would like to be a good teammate and contribute.
“Clearly, the overall success of this team is very important to me, but also within that I would like things to change because right now it’s all speculation what coach thinks about me. But to say once again, most definitely I would like things to change.”
The under-utilization of Hillis as both a runner and receiving threat out of the backfield was one of the more frustrating parts of this season. We hope to see Hillis’ role, and not his team, change in 2010 as well.