Wednesday, November 16, 2005

NFL disappointments: Running Backs

Pardon me for my lists, but I was thinking the other day about a few guys who I had expected to have nice seasons this year and for whatever the reason, haven't come through so far. Conversely, I wondered who have been the biggest surprises?
Now I have limited my list to the guys I follow the most, offensive skill position players (and believe it or not I haven't yet dabbled in fantasy football. so sue me). Sorry, I'm not going to get into defensive players. They are harder to analyze unless you really know what your talking about and again, I am a Ram fan so what the hell do I know about defense?
So anyway, relative to expectations and results who has been this season's biggest disappointments and surprises at the skill positions?

First my take on the biggest disappointment to date at the running back position: I think there are few candidates for this.

- Carolina has played well this season and their dual threat of Foster and Stephen Davis have been adequate, but Foster's been banged up and only carried the ball 75 times for less than 300 yards and Davis is averaging only 3 yards a carry with just under 500 yards. Now Davis does have 12 touchdowns but the only scoring that has really caught my attention was done by the Panther cheerleaders.

- Ahman Green's season has been a downer, complete with a season ending injury and Priest Holmes wasn't even the best back on his own team before he got hurt.

- Or how about the Jet's Curtis Martin who after his 1697 yard performance last year gave hope to the over 31 club. He's 32 years old now and his 3.4 yard per carry average is looking geriatric this year. I'm 33 and it kills me to think that if I was a running back in the NFL (work with me here) my career would essentially be over. It's incredible how 32 and older is seen as ancient for RB's in the NFL. I guess the pounding they take over 10 years in the league really does wear them down. To be fair to Martin, his line sucks.

- Another guy having a down year is Corey Dillon. He also has been a bit gimpy and his 441 yards and 3.5 yards-per carry mirrors the Pats season so far: very average. It's causing Belichik to look more like your friendly neighborhood serial killer every day. Keep up the great work Corey!

- And with the contract he signed Lamont Jordan really should be giving us more than a couple of good games and a 3.8 yard per carry average (after all it was the yard-per carry average last year that got him the contract). He's a big guy, he should carry guys at least 4 yards after he's hit. He's shown signs of coming to life with an increased workload so we'll see how the rest of the season goes.

- But for me, the award goes to your favorite inmate and mine: Jamal Lewis. Congratulations Jamal, you've just won a compilation cd of Joe Theismann's greatest suck-up comments about you. ----Jamal has a paltry 480 yards and and 3 yard per-carry average. What's that you say? The Ravens can't throw the ball and everybody is loading up on the run? Umm....and that's different from other years how? Yeah Lewis missed training camp and had his mind on other things in the offseason (namely how to keep the only other guy bigger than him from making him his beeatch) but what about all that talk of him really getting his head straight and how he realized how important football was to him? A lot of people were saying if he made a run at the single season rushing mark with an impending prison sentence always on his mind then just think what he could do without that burden. Hey it's contract time though right? Got to be careful. Careful you don't run yourself out of the league.
--Here's the thing: I'm not a Raven fan even though I lived in Baltimore for about a year, but I do like Lewis. He was fun to watch when he ran over people and occasionally around guys. I remember thinking a couple of years ago, "how do you stop this guy?" Apparently a few strip searches and jumpsuit wardrobe do the trick.

Coming next: RB surprises


Sports Litter said...

This year's RB crop has been desimated by injuries. Surprised to see you didn't throw Fred Taylor on that List.

Biggest Bust has to be Lewis, because he is like the only one who sucks and hasn't been injured.

Someone needs to get that man some cocaine.

The Zoner said...

I agree with your busts picks. I'd have to throw Dominick Davis in there too. He looked as if he would build on last year's nice season but he has regressed.

For surprises, Thomas Jones leads the list for me. Of course, I am a Bears fan. But he has been super.

I will be watching the Carolina/Bears game on Sunday. I'm hearing that Stephen Davis is shying away from contact and not running with power like he did in the past. Can't wait to see how it shakes out.

Good stuff,
The Zoner

The Armchair Quarterback said...

In regards to Sports Litter's comments and the Zoner's ---Fred Taylor wasn't really a disappointment because I really didn't have expectations for him. I figured he'd struggle with injuries just like almost every year of his career. He has.
-Dominick Davis hasn't been great either but then again my Houston expectations weren't all that high. I could have and probably should have thrown in another Texas running back and that is Julius Jones of Dallas. Expectations were high for this guy after the promise shown last year. He's only averaging 3 1/2 yards a carry and there is talk of Barber becoming the starter. We'll see. Maybe that will light a fire under him.
-Another guy I could have mentioned was Brian Westbrook. He's got less than 500 yards and less than 4 yards a carry also but the Eagles have been passing so much I'm not sure he's had a chance to establish any kind of rythmm or feel during a game.

Sports Litter said...

Ok, I see what you're saying about Fred.

What do you have to say about Kevni Jones? 462 yards, 3.2 average, 4 td's.

Maybe I'm looking at this too much from a fantasy perspective, but Kevin Jones was supposed to continue what he did at the end of last year, and man did he disappoint. Much like the whole Lions team.

The Armchair Quarterback said...

Your right about Kevin Jones. It's not like anyone was picking him for all-pro this year but there were higher expectations.

dolphinfan said...

How about Cedrick Benson? High draft pick, lots of hype, long hold-out, nothing for the season and now he is injured.

The Armchair Quarterback said...

You never know what a rookie will do but as high as Benson went in the draft, yeah, hopes were high. The question is didn't he learn anything from the Philip Rivers/Drew Brees situation?

Mario Ceste said...

In order to be a big bust, the player must actually play and proceed to suck it up. When Benson had a chance to play, he did well early before suffering the knee injury (although it was the 49ers). Nobody really mentioned my boy McGahee. Although he is 3rd in the NFL in rushing, he's only found the end zone 4 times. This guy was a yardage and TD machine last season (much like Jones) and really hasn't found his form yet. Clinton Portis was shaping up to be a big disappointment until Brunell picked up his game and forced the opposing defenses to actually pretend like they were in pass coverage. He's definitely off the list after dominating TB. You could probably also make a case for Rudi Johnson being a disappointment. After threating to hold out last season, he's had to share his carries with Chris Perry and it has hurt his value.

The Armchair Quarterback said...

I agree you can't label Benson a bust. But I'm not talking about busts (which I think refer to guys who have been given good opportunity to make it but haven't) , I'm talking about disappointments. I don't think you can label Benson's season as anything but that. And your right McGahee isn't putting up "best back in the NFL, hands down" kind of numbers but his season is at least solid.

Tony said...

It's hard to say Martin is a disappointment when 1) he's playing w/ bad knees that would take anyone out 2 weeks min. and 2) the O Line stinks. I agree with everyone else thought. Especially Mr. Lewis

Pradamaster said...

I don't think Jordan is a bust at all.

He has over 1,000 total yards and 9 TDs already this season. I do believe he is not utalized well, but that is not his fault. Frankly, 1,000 total yards and 9 TDs is solid over 10 games. Assuming he ends up with 1,100 rushing yards, 10 rushing TDs, 500 receiving yards and 4 receiving TDs, how can that be a dissapointment?

The Armchair Quarterback said...

My disappointment for Jordan is specific to his yard per carry average which is under 4 coming into the game with the Redskins. 1000 yards is no longer a benchmark for a great season when you are a running back. If you have 1200 yards but you are average only 3 yards a carry, that's not a great season. Now if your team is winning and they just need you to grind down the defensive line and it really doesn't matter how many yards you get, then so be it. Not very many backs have seasons like that on winning teams. Bettis has had a few with the Steelers like that. But the point is that it really isn't that great of an individual season if you can't average over 4 yards a carry. I'll reapeat this again: Lamont got his contract due to the yards per carry he was getting in his limited time with the Jets. That was the potential the Raiders saw. Today against the Skins he had 27 carries for 52 yards. That is a 1.9 average! Any way you slice it, that's disappointing in relation to the expectations for Jordan.