Mason's Mailbag: Theo Riddick's arrival doesn't mean less emphasis on ground

With Theo Riddick now in the backfield, can I safely assume Denver wants to throw the ball more?

-- Scott Thielemier

No. It's just as likely that Riddick takes some receiving targets away from others, rather than siphoning from runs. (That said, there is no set target percentage of runs and pass plays for which the team will aim. The distribution is fluid and based on matchups and game situations.

Riddick provides more tactical flexibility for the offense. He can run if needed; he averaged 4.3 yards per attempt last year and has 49 more rushes than receptions in the past three seasons. He's reliable; he has averaged just one fumble every 286.5 touches in his career. He can be as effective on a quick slant from the slot as he is running a wheel route out of the backfield. His presence means the offense can be more versatile, but it does not necessarily mean the Broncos want to throw the ball more.

For further counsel on why it's not safe to assume anything, please refer to the court case involving Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, which can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfvTwv5o1Qs

I have read that the HoF Committee is considering 20 inductees for the 2020 class. Could the Broncos get a 25 percent share of those inductees with the likes of Steve Atwater and Randy Gradishar (both of whom Champ Bailey righteously namedropped in his HoF Game interview) along with Karl Mecklenburg, John Lynch and some recently available players like Tom Nalen and Rod Smith?

-- Jose Borrero

Understand this: With the expanded class of senior candidates, every team in existence prior to 1995 has a group of players they will push to see considered by the Seniors Committee. The Broncos can make cases for Randy Gradishar, Rich "Tombstone" Jackson, Tom Jackson, Karl Mecklenburg and Louis Wright. 

But let's just look at a few other teams. The Cowboys, massive as their Hall of Fame complement is, will tout Cliff Harris (who, like Steve Atwater, is a victim of the difficulty the Hall has with quantifying safeties), linebacker Chuck Howley and wide receiver Drew Pearson. The Bengals can bring up quarterback Ken Anderson (whose accuracy was well ahead of his time) and cornerback Ken Riley. The Jets have offensive tackle Winston Hill, an eight-time AFL All-Star or Pro Bowler, and defensive tackle Joe Klecko. We can do this with every team.

Also, you can expect the Seniors Committee to dive into the early history of the game with some viable candidates from the 1920s and 1930s. It would be no surprise if half of the 10 seniors in the expanded class played before the Second World War.

Further, Smith and Nalen are in the modern-era pool, which will produce no more than five enshrinees, as usual. Smith and Nalen will remain there until at least 2032. They have yet to even make the cut to 15 finalists. So to expect them to make the leap and become an inductee in one year is unrealistic. First, they need to get into the room as finalists. Nalen probably has a better chance than Smith, whose case is not helped by the fact that he has fewer receptions, yards and touchdowns than Isaac Bruce, who has yet to get over the hump from finalist to Hall of Famer despite ranking fifth in league history in receiving yardage. To further illustrate the backlog at wide receiver, consider that former Jaguars standout Jimmy Smith, whose nine 1,000-yard seasons is tied for third in league history, has never made the cut to 25 as a Hall of Fame semifinalist.

Be happy if the Broncos get one Hall of Famer in 2020. Be ecstatic if they get two (my guesses would be Atwater and Gradishar if this is the case). Anything beyond that is unrealistic.

#AskMase If Janovich goes to IR, what could be the plan to replace him? Or do you think the offense can work without a FB? Cheers from Mexico!

-- @Mx_Broncos via Twitter

Rookie George Aston would be in position to fill in if Janovich goes to injured reserve, but if the absence is measured in weeks, the Broncos could get by using tight ends when fullbacks are needed.

We've seen tight ends motion into the backfield and align themselves as fullbacks throughout OTAs and training camp. Troy Fumagalli, who established himself as a dependable blocker at Wisconsin, would likely be a good fit. But even with that possibility, I would expect to see more traditional two-tight end alignments (with neither tight end in motion to the backfield) while Janovich recovers.

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