Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Is the Running Back Position Overrated?

Take a look at the last 6 Superbowl champions and see if you can name the starting Running Back for each team. Its a fun game...but it also tells a story that I don't think many people realize.

Willie Parker/Jerome Bettis
Corey Dillon (the only one who makes a leading rushing list and superbowl champ)
Antowain Smith
Michael Pittman/Mike Alstott
Smith (again)
Jamal Lewis

The Running Back position is clearly among the more overrated positions in the NFL.

Take a look at the last few years as an example.

2006:
Tomlinson, Larry Johnson, Frank Gore, Tiki Barber, Steven Jackson were the top 5 rushers in the NFL. 0 playoff wins combined, 3 appearances. Expand that to the top 10 RB's and the only Running back who had a win was Brian Westbrook, and the Eagles were one and done.

2005:
S. Alexander led his team to the Superbowl, but didn't win. Tiki Barber, L. Johnson, Portis, Edgerrin James, and Tomlinson round out the top 6. Only Alexander went anywhere and came up short.

2004:
Curtis Martin, Alexander, Dillon, Edgerrin James, Tiki Barber, Rudi Johnson, LT, Portis, Droughns.
Finally a Superbowl champion, but not much else out of this group.

2003:
Jamal Lewis, Ahman Green, LT, Deuce McAllister, Portis.
Michael Pittman was 26th in the league in rushing, and wasn't a full time back with Mike Alstott in the mix.


You get the point. The Running Back position is overrated. You don't need a superstar, you don't even need a mediocre back. The Patriots won two Superbowls with a used and abused Antowain Smith as their Running Back.

And with what the Patriots have done without any marquee Wide Receiver, how long will it take for this article to apply to Wide Receivers as well?

38 comments:

Scott said...

Great point. What about WRs? I'd be curious about any big name WRs who won the SB the last 6 years:

Steelers: Hines Ward
Pats: Deion Branch
Pats: Deion Branch
Tampa: Keyshawn? Joe Jurivicious?
Pats: Troy Brown/David Patten
Ravens: I couldn't even tell you.

Of that group, Hines Ward is probably the best, but you still wouldn't put him in that "elite" guy that everyone talks about (Chad Johnson, Steve Smith, T.O., etc.).

Keyshawn has a nice career, but I've never thought of him as a #1 guy. Maybe in his Jet days. Obviously, other teams have found him to be expendable.

That Guy said...

I think the WR debate is even easier and that will be my next one when the Patriots win the Superbowl this year.

All this means, is that the reason the Patriots are the Dynasty that they are, is that Belichick is the first one to realize the over-value of these positions, and the rest of the league plays catch-up.

MoneyMouth said...

It is an interesting idea. I think that the reason behind this is that great RBs aren't judged on winning games or championships. A Quarterback who doesn't win is never considered good, and will never be considered elite without a championship. But look at runningbacks the ones who are on winning teams and the ones we consider good aren't the same.

That Guy said...

This isn't subjective though...its not "who is good." Its much more of a case of "what rushing leaders led their team to the title." The reality is that not many of them do.

Thus, the position is overrated.

mh said...

Trent Dilfer and Ben Roethlisberger won Super Bowls, is the QB position overrated?

All it proves is that football is the ultimate TEAM game, and overspending for a superstar running back isn't wise, but having an LT on this years Pats team would certainly not hurt their chances at winning the SB, as this post seems to say.

That Guy said...

mh good point, and its one that I will address. The QB position isn't overrated - those were two QB's that didn't make mistakes. So perhaps the typical "tools" that people think in todays NFL are needed in a QB are overrated.

Like "Mobility" or "Strong arm."

Scott said...

you need a game manager at QB. you need an offensive line that can protect and create some running lanes
you need a very good team defense, that also has a knack for the big play. you need a team defense that is very good on third down (obviously).

i think the past super bowl champions had all of these aspects.

im too lazy to look them all up, but not since montana to rice has there really been a hall of fame style QB-WR combo that won a Super Bowl has there?

mh said...

Was Favre a game manager?

There is no true formula. It's team and scheme.

I should copyright that.

MoneyMouth said...

Thats exactly what I was getting at. How many passing leaders have lead their teams to championships? Its a team game and the concept i think we have all been getting at is that a good balance wins championships. Its to hard to rely on one guy to be able to carry a team to a championship. Even Tom Brady doesn't put up crazy numbers. He wouldn't be considered anywhere near an elite QB of all time if he didn't have the playoff record he does.

That Guy said...

You want my opinion? Favre WHEN HE WON was a game manager who had a rocket arm.

He turned into the "gunslinger" bullshit when he got full of himself and started buying into his own press.

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