Hey there people,
Welcome to The AFC Feast. I hope you're hungry. For knowledge. Of football. Also I have leftover pasta.
Today we're gonna take a look at each team's running game and rank them accordingly. My opinion. Yours is wrong.
We go in alphabetical order with last years stats listed as follows (att/yards/avg/TD)
Team rushing: (424/1867/4.4/6)
Fred Jackson (237/1062/4.5/2)
CJ Spiller (216/1212/5.6/12 at Clemson)
Marshawn Lynch (120/450/3.8/2)
If Buffalo had an offensive line, this would be the top rushing team in the NFL. Marshawn Lynch becomes a legit #1 as soon as he finishes screwing his head on straight. CJ Spiller - I'll give you another chance to look at those numbers - was conceived by a man who was in the process of scoring. A touchdown. Also the other thing. He was born for this. And he'll be backing up and, (ahem) sharing the load with Fred Jackson, who rushed for 60% of their yards last season. All while running behind an o-line of guys not named Jason Peters.
Alas, Buffalo does not have an offensive line. Not even close to one. I'm pretty sure they just went through the records of a local Big and Tall store and took the first 5 guys to answer their phones. Couple that with their dubiously low touchdown total, a very literal unknown that is the QB position and no receiver help for Lee Evans, and Buffalo will be running almost all the time. Defenses will smell it out. Like a Rhino wearing Obsession. For Men. By Calvin Klein. Coming at you. With its smell.
Buffalo will need to wear extra pads. Today's non-paying sponsor is Kotex, so we'll recommend those.
Division ranking: 3
Team rushing: (509/2231/4.4/22)
Ricky Williams (241/1121/4.7/11)
Ronnie Brown (147/648/4.4/8)
Pat White (21/81/3.9/0)
Lousaka Polite (37/123/3.3/0)
Only Carolina and the Jets ran the ball more than Miami last year, and they both have 2 other things in common with the Fins:
1. Inexperienced QB who needed to be eased into the controls
2. Kickass running backs
You could argue that the best thing that ever happened to Ricky Williams career was pot. By missing out on 18 months of football, he managed to preserve his body so it could take more hits over a longer period of time. Not bong hits, football hits. Pitchers and running backs seem to be able to endure longer when they reduce their workload early in their careers. Ricky's livin' proof.
Ronnie Brown missed 7 games last season and they still finished 4th in total rushing yards. Does that make him dispensable? No - it makes him the difference between #4 and #1.
Chad Henne has the tools to become an elite QB, and as much as the Wildcat has become a gimmick and just about every team has some sort of answer for it, that doesn't mean it isn't effective in creating a better overall running game. If they continue to give Pat White reps, and Brown and Williams stay healthy, don't be surprised if Miami hits 3000 yards as a team next year.
And if that happens, we recommend partying with Ricky.
Division Rank: 1
Team rushing: (466/1921/4.1/19)
Laurence Maroney (194/757/3.9/9)
Fred Taylor (63/269/4.3/4)
Kevin Faulk (62/335/5.4/2)
Sammie Morris (73/319/4.4/2)
BenJarvus GreenEllis (26/114/4.4/0)
Only ten teams rushed for 19 touchdowns or more last year. Betcha didn't think the Pats were one of 'em. Don't be surprised if one of the older guys (more likely Taylor or Morris) doesn't make the team - that's a crowded backfield filled with able-bodied rushers. Sure, none of them seem to be bona fide feature backs, but consider:
-Morris and Taylor each missed significant time, but put in exceptional numbers when healthy
-Faulk is primarily a receiving back, yet he too is still effective out of the backfield
-People only remember the negative when it comes to Maroney - his fumbles cost them because of their timing (and yes, that does matter) but throughout his career, he's been a tough, consistent back who can carry his load and takes hits. Again, not Ricky hits, football hits.
-The Law Firm, while having one of the best nicknames in the history of shortening things, has never really had an extended chance to show his talent.
The strange thing is, with so much skill and competition in the backfield, you'd expect someone to emerge as the dominant guy. Maroney has the carries, but those would've been split with Taylor and Morris had they stayed healthy.
The talent is definitely there, it's just inconsistent, unhealthy, and unmotivated.
Someone light a fire under their collective asses. And pray the Law Firm isn't just filled with hot air. (Zing.)
Division rank: 4
Team rushing (607/2756/4.5/21)
Shonn Greene (108/540/5.0/2)
LaDainian Tomlinson (223/730/3.3/12)
Joe McKnight (164/1014/6.2/8 at USC)
Brad Smith (18/207/11.5/1)
Tony Richardson (7/48/6.9/0)
Thomas Jones isn't walking through that door. Leon Washington isn't walking through that door. LaDanian Tomlinson is - and for Jets fans, you better hope he's brought some juvenation. Tomlinson's yards per carry (5.2, 4.7, 3.8, 3.3) and total carries (348, 315, 292, 223) have taken a noticeable turn toward the ground over the last 4 years and that trend will continue as he splits the ball (hey now) with Greene - who should get close to 300 carries - and McKnight, who seems to put up big numbers when he's paid well, as evidenced by the fact that he went to USC. (You've been a great audience. Don't forget to tip your server.)
Is Greene ready for such a heavy workload? Will Tomlinson really be OK as a 3rd down back? If Holmes and Edwards can't consistently make plays, does that put more pressure on the RBs? Can Vladimir Ducasse seamlessly fill Alan Faneca's shoes and maintain this unit's overall excellence? Lots of questions, but this is still one of the best running units in the NFL.
Just know this: The Jets led the NFL in attempts, total yards, and average yards per game. They will emphasize the run, they will establish the run, and they will punch you in the face along the way.
Division rank: 2
Some divisional notes:
Miami, NY and New England each finished in the top ten in rushing TDs and attempts. Buffalo finished 29th, and 21st, respectively.
Miami led the division in fumbles (11, NY 9, NE 7, Buffalo 6), while NE and Miami each lost 5 (NY 4, Buffalo 3)
Of all the teams in the top 10 in average yards/carry, Buffalo is the only one to rush fewer than 430 times.
Miami and NY are 2 of only 5 teams with 20+ rushing touchdowns.
There you have it. Coming next: Quarterbacks, and maybe a "which team's fat coach would win a hot dog eating contest" post.