The Seattle Sea Dragons of the XFL have won 5 straight games despite the streaky play of their quarterback former Dallas Cowboy Ben Dinucci. However, waiting in the wings is one of the best quarterbacks ever to wear the black and gold of Colorado University. Steven Montez fell just 54 yards shy of the all-time passing record set at Colorado by his predecessor Sefo Liufua. Throwing for just over 9,700 yards, Montez is a legend in Colorado.
There is one player who played with both of these record-setting quarterbacks during his college career that can say he made their lives much easier in the passing game. Having grown up in Aurora, Colorado, Phillip Lindsay attended CU from 2014-2017 leaving the school as the all-time leading rusher for CU. Playing with Liufua from 2014-2017 until Montez took over as the full-time starter when Liufua was in camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Lindsay graduated in 201 and headed off to the NFL continuing to cement his legacy as a Colorado football legend by signing with the hometown Denver Broncos.
As an undrafted free agent,t Phillip Lindsay made the Broncos roster as a rookie. Splitting time with former draft picks Devontae Booker, and Royce Freeman. Lindsay would end up leading the team in rushing yards by the end of the season. He would tote the rock 192 times for the Broncostotalingg 1,037 yards and 9 touchdowns while displaying the explosiveness that made him so popular in Colorado by averaging 5.4 yards per carry. As a rookie,e he not only led the team in carries, yards, and rushing touchdowns but he also managed to make it into the pro-bowl as the first undrafted rookie to ever make a pro-bowl.
In season two, Lindsay would put up his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season to open his career. This time he had 224 carries for 1,011 yards falling off from his 5.4 yards per carry average, but still managing 4.5 yards per carry that season. Through his first 31 games in the NFL, he had just 24 starts, yet had managed 416 carries, 2,048 yards, and 16 rushing touchdowns averaging nearly 5 yards per carry. That’s when his touches dramatically began to taper off due to the Broncos shying away from the smaller Lindsay in favor of bigger back Melvin Gordon, while also giving Freeman some carries as well.
In 2020 Lindsay had his worst season as a pro to this point. Even though he had over 100 carries once again, this time with 118 carries, he had just 502 rushing yards and 1 rushing touchdown. This time his average had fallen to 4.3 yards per carry acareer-loww to that point but still a very acceptable average for an NFL back. After the 2020 season, Phillip Lindsay became a restricted free agent, and Denver hit him with a right of first refusal tender, just two days later the tag was rescinded, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Done in Denver
Lindsay would then land in Houston not far from where he will call home (Arlington) during his time in the XFL. His time in Houston was short-lived, he was quickly relegated to third on the depth chart behind David Johnson and Mark Ingram. Lindsay’s size working against him in terms of getting reps as the first back off the bench. Lindsay would play in 10 games, collecting 50 carries for 130 yards and 1 touchdown. This worked out to 2.6 yards per carry.
After 6 months with Houston, he was released in November 2021 and moved on to the Miami Dolphins. With Miami, Lindsay played in 4 more games where he collected 38 carries for 119 yards. During this 2021 season, he had his poorest season. After the year Miami opted not to bring Lindsay back, leaving him to find a new home. This led him to Indianapolis where they had several players on the roster ahead of him, including one of the best running backs in the league Jonathan Taylor. Three different backs started games due to injury, and two other backs saw carries, Lindsay being one of them. He would bounce on and off the practice squad suiting up in 3 games.
He would add 15 carries for 49 yards during his time in Indianapolis. This left him with 637 carries for 2,848 yards and 18 touchdowns, adding 87 receptions on 122 targets or a catch rate of 71.3%, accounting for another 529 yards and 2 touchdowns. As a rookie, and briefly, with Miami, he spent time as the kick and punt returner. He has 3 punt returns for 23 yards, and 11 kick returns for 235 yards as well. Having played in 59 career games, Lindsay put up 3,635 all-purpose yards on four different NFL teams. Since the season ended he has not gotten a satisfactory NFL offer leaving him a free agent.
Three Game Showcase Could be Exactly What the Doctor Ordered to Revive Lindsay’s Career
I would assume that Steven Montez has something to do with the recruitment of his former teammate, whose career is on the NFL rocks so to speak. Montez knew he needed a chance to play so he gambled on his ability to beat out Ben Dinucci in Seattle, the difference with Lindsay is he has a clearer path to being an immediate contributor given how Seattle’s staff has soured on electric, Morgan Ellison due to his issues in pass protection, and with fumbles. If fumbles are a concern…Seattle couldn’t have signed a better running back to become their starter down the stretch.
Lindsay finished his college career with no fumbles in his final 392 touches. A streak that has continued to this day, having never logged a lost fumble in the NFL according to ProFootballReference.com, NFL.com credits him with two of his own fumbles recovered. Phillip Lindsay steps in and could be the top option in the Seattle run game going forward for the last 3 games, a crucial stretch that could be life or death for the Sea Dragons who reside in a very tough North Division with the St. Louis Battlehawks hitting a stretch of home games that could result in a strong finish to their up and down season.
Pass protection however, is not his speciality, likely in part due to his size, he has graded out rather poorly in this category during his NFL career. From 2019-2021 Lindsay never topped a 36.5 grade in pass blocking per pff.com. His rookie year he had a 63.1 grade, and in his time with Indianapolis he had the best showing of his career in this category according to PFF. He was graded at a 68.8 overall, but his performances during Denver, and New England showcased that he may have been perfecting this portion of his game. He graded 83.1 versus Denver, and 73.5 versus New England. It was his performance in just 5 snaps versus Jacksonville that brought his grade below a 70 on the season.
Could Lindsay’s Presence Help Montez?
Maybe the addition of Lindsay, and the chemistry he shares with Montez could help the Sea Dragons staff finally make the change from turnover-prone Ben Dinucci who has 16 turnovers in 7 games. In a high passing volume, run-and-shoot style offense, a guy like Steven Montez who was a 62% passer in college even though he was top 10 in adjusted air yards per attempt in all 3 of his seasons as a starter, would likely light up the league in this offense.
Ben Dinucci leads the league in passing yards but has averaged just 6.8 yards per attempt, which is below guys like Luis Perez, Brett Hundley, Quinten Dormady, and Jordan Ta’amu. When passing the ball beyond 10 yards his completion rate drops dramatically. From 77.5% under 10 yards to 53.5% beyond 10 yards, and 34.3% beyond 20 yards. When you look at him compared to some other lower more running game-reliant teams, that use lower-volume passing attacks these numbers tend to rise.
Aj McCarron for instance completes nearly 62% of his passes beyond 10 yards, partially because of the run game that frees up some of those passing lanes. Jordan Ta’amu who has often been knocked for some of his decision making has completed 55.2% of his passes past 10 yards, and even Luis Perez who has long been discussed as physically limited in terms of arm strength, completes over 62.% of his passes over 10 yards, and 42.9% of his passes over 20 yards.
The point is Dinucci, while asked to pass more, isn’t able to push the ball down the field with a decent level of accuracy, and his decision-making has been suspect as well all leading to turnovers. Perhaps it’s time to put your offense in the hands of two players that know each other well, and let them go back to setting team records as they did for Colorado University nearly 6 years ago.
What do you have to lose? You certainly know you won’t lose the ball…