The Rebirth of the Running back
Throughout the history of the NFL we have idolized running backs. Jim Brown, Walter Payton, Gale Sayers, Emmitt Smith, I can go on and on. But the league has “changed” into a passing league. Year after year teams search for that star quarterback, that face of the franchise that will lead their team to the promise land. Wide outs and quarterbacks are the primary focus of the offense with the majority of teams running a spread offense or a form of it at some point during the game. The running back has been considered dispensable and thrown on the back burner for the past several years. Well I got news football fans, the running backs, yes backs are back.
They call it running back by committee. Nearly all NFL teams have adopted the new strategy to the game using multiple tailbacks throughout the game. This past season over half of the 32 franchises were able to use the two headed and even three headed monster successfully as an offensive weapon. The Bengals, 49ers, and Patriots were prime examples of the run by committee in the 2014 season. The use of Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard of the Bengals, Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde of the niners, and Belichick pulling numerous guys off the streets of Boston and throwing them in to boost the New England rushing attack.
The running backs are not dead, rather they have multiplied. No, there are not nearly as many standout prominent backs as their once was. Outside of Peterson, Murray, Lynch and Charles there are no premier backs in the league anymore. But the new offensive approach is like a well oiled machine. A back for speed, a back for power, and a back for balance that can catch the ball out of the back field is the recipe NFL teams are following in the game today. I won’t bore you all with stats, rather just tell you to research yourself and see that nearly half the league totaled about 2000 yards on the ground this past season.
Granted I miss the prime age of the running back. Marshall Faulk, Ricky Williams, Ladainian Tomlinson, Shaun Alexander, you name it. But that time has passed. The league may not ever go back to a complete ground and pound, but the running back has returned and is here to stay. My only words of advice, when going to buy a jersey stray away from the tailbacks, unless you got the cash to buy three.