The League

Chris Gates
Vikings Blogger

Chris Gates

The head blogger at The Daily Norseman, SBNation's Minnesota Vikings blog, since July of 2006.

Committee of Diversity

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The concept of the running back by "committee" is one that many football experts have fallen in love with, and many fantasy football owners have come to curse over the past couple of years. The prevailing theory is that having one great back simply isn't enough today, and that the days of the "feature back" have passed us by. However, a closer look at the numbers shows us that this isn't exactly the case.

In my opinion, the term "committee" implies that you have two (or more) backs that are getting an equal number of carries, much like a "closer by committee" situation in baseball where a few different guys are getting an equal number of chances to close out ball games. However, if you look at the top ten rushers in the NFL last season, you'll see that they have a decided advantage in carries over the next man on their team's depth chart. Of the top ten NFL rushers, eight of them had at least 194 more carries than the next highest player on the team -- the two exceptions being DeAngelo Williams in Carolina (89 carries more than Jonathan Stewart) and Chris Johnson in Tennessee (51 more carries than LenDale White).

If you're a team like the New York Giants or Carolina or Tennessee that has a pair of backs to equally split carries between, you have yourself a great luxury. There simply aren't enough "great" running backs to go around in today's NFL for every team to be able to do that. But even with those committees, there's a marked difference in styles between the types of backs used in the flow of the offense and, in my opinion, that's the key to success in the running game in today's NFL. Take the top two running backs in the NFL in 2008 in terms of yardage, Minnesota's Adrian Peterson and Atlanta's Michael Turner. Both men had around an 80/20 split in terms of carries with their backups, Chester Taylor and Jerrious Norwood, respectively. But Peterson and Taylor have completely different styles, as do Turner and Norwood. While they're not part of a "committee" in terms of workload, they both play vital roles for their offenses by keeping their opponents just off-balance enough to be dangerous.

I'm of the mindset that the day of the featured back hasn't completely passed us by. There are many running backs in the National Football League that are asked to be the primary carriers of the proverbial mail for their teams on a weekly basis. The key is to pair that primary weapon with an outstanding complement, one that doesn't necessarily have to be the equal of the number one guy. It's every bit as important to have a guy that can simply come in, occasionally give the big dog a breather, maybe play a role on third-down, and know his place in a team's offense.

By Chris Gates  |  August 17, 2009; 11:18 AM ET  | Category:  Adrian Peterson , Michael Turner , NFL , Running Backs Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Double Your Durability | Next: Specialization is the future... and not just at running back

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I would just like to say that this is one of the most well written articles I have ever read. Do you have a fan club?

Posted by: GateslovesBrettFavrewiththeVikings | August 18, 2009 1:21 PM

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