Monday, March 22, 2010

The death of the NFL running back

Is this really it? Have we, the fans of the NFL, forgotten about the heroes of the backfield? Before you say no...think about it. What was the best play you remember from the Super Bowl? Was it Sean Payton's gutsy call for an onside kick at the start of the third or was it Tracy Porter's pick and subsequent TD that put the nail in the coffin for the Colts? The chances are pretty high that a running play isn't your best memory.

If you want further proof, what was the biggest headline for a running back last season? More than likely, it's between Chris Johnson trying to get the most rushing yards in a season or Adrian Peterson and his apparent fumble-itis. Is this what it comes down to for the mighty RB?

The top 5 offenses of last season:

1. New Orleans
2. Dallas(That's right!)
3. New England
4. Houston
5. Minnesota

Off the bat, we can cut out #3 and #4 because you have to add up 2 of the 4 Patriots running backs to get a decent amount of rushing yards for one running back in a season...only one of them rushed for more than 700 yards. Forget Houston because with Steve Slaton coughing up the ball, the Texans' offense rested in Matt Schaub's hands. We can rule out New Orleans because Drew Brees ruled the roost there. No, Reggie Bush is a surprise RB. In other words, he's used as a receiver(47 receptions for 335 yards) just as much as he's used in the backfield(70 carries for 390 yards).

So two of the top 5 offenses have at least one decent running back who has 1,000+ yards. Wait...not even my Dallas team has one RB that has broken 1,000 yards, but since they have the "three headed monster", we feel they're a pretty good rushing team.

The top 5 running backs(and where their team ranks in total offense)

1. Chris Johnson(Tennesee ranks #12)
2. Steven Jackson(St. Louis ranks #29)
3. Thomas Jones(NY Jets ranks #20)
4. Maurice Jones-Drew(Jacksonville ranks #18)
5. Adrian Peterson(Minnesota ranks #5)

These 5 guys have made some of the best top 10 plays of last season yet the bigger spotlight has been shined on the QB and the passing plays they make. Even with the "wildcat" craze, rushing takes a backseat to a strong arm.

Will the trend to downplay the running back ever change? Probably not as long as the topic of the day is Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen or Tim Tebow and not C.J. Spiller, Jahvid Best or Evan Royster. Personally, it seems if the NFL is trying to be all about "parity" then the league would retain some focus on rushing side of the offense as well.

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