Blog Entry

Have We Seen the Last HOF RB?

Posted on: August 11, 2012 9:29 pm
Baseball fanatics and experts alike have already agreed that the we have already seen our last 300 game winner in Major League Baseball. With that statement, and admittingly not a huge baseball fan, there was still a lump in my throat from pure sorrow. With the many advances we have seen in sports, the farther away we are going away from historic achievements we have all admired as youngsters. While this is happeningin baseball, could this happen in football as well?

The NFL RB has become an unreliable injury player in the NFL. The one-back system has almost been eliminated. The new talk is a two-back system where two running backs share the 20-30+ carries per game. Add that to the fact that new NFL rules have made the game more pass friendly and we may have a new NFL with RBs that are not future Hall of Famers. We may be watching NFL football from here on out that does not have a Hall of Fame RB. Scary though unless they change the standards of what a Hall of Fame RB is.

Ladanian Tomlinson is likely a Hall of Fame RB who just retired this past season. Lets examine possible Hall of Fame suspects in todays game. Sadly, the list is very short.
Adrian Peterson is coming off a devestating knee injury. Currently he has 6700 yards rushing. He is a likely candidate for the HOF if he can recover from his devastating knee injury. He is still 1000 yards short of Terrell Davis' career total. Why do I bring up Davis? Davis is a huge reason why John Elway has two super bowl rings and Davis is one of six players to record 2000 yards in a NFL season. Davis has never been seriously considered for the HOF after his career was shortened from significant knee injuries. Even if Peterson were to gain more yards than Davis, Peterson doesn't look to have a super bowl or playoff appearance in his near future. While Davis isn't being considered for Hall of Fame status, the very fact that he isn't in the hall of fame will be used against other RBs in the future. 

Maurice Jones-Drew may have a lot of personality hosting radio shows and being fan friendly, but he is a long shot for the hall of fame. He has 6800 yards after six seasons, but he didn't have a good start. He was a back up for Fred Taylor for a few years, but Jones-Drew didn't see his first 1000 yard season until his fourth year. With the longevity of a RB and the winning factor, Jones-Drew has a lot of work to do to garner HOF status.

There may be a few young RBs in the league that have potential, but injuries have been far too common to say they have a great or even chance. There is one RB that I think has a good chance at the Hall of Fame in the league right now. Stephen Jackson, St Louis Rams, should exceed the 10,000 yard mark this season and if you look at his career, it may have been the toughest 10,000 yards ever gained. Jackson has played on some very bad teams. While his TD total is low, his yards and yards per carry show that his heart cannot be challenged. 

I am hoping that this blog is just a pessimistic view of current football. If you think it is, please do not refer to NFL stats from the 1990s or beforeas they reveal how blessed we were watching the ground pounders in the NFL. Change is an inevitable fact of life in every aspect, but I hope the NFL game hasn't changed to the point that the NFL RB is just a dime a dozen.

Category: NFL

Since: Aug 26, 2009
Posted on: August 26, 2012 3:34 pm

Have We Seen the Last HOF RB?

There will be no more HOF running backs when there aren't any backs toping 1,500 yards in a season. The 00s decade was the highlight of running backs. There were more running backs that decade going over 1500 yards than in the 80s or 90s. The trend will come back around again just like it always does. The running game has changed into a speed and finesse game because the defenses are so fast. The rare athletes are starting to pop up at QB now instead of RB, and DE instead of LB. Within the next five years another AP is going to emerge from college and take the NFL by storm. Had it not been for the injuries, people wouldn't be talking as much about the lack of elite running backs. DeAngelo Williams was on an elite path until he hurt himself as was/is AP, MJD, and Forte. AP and MJD hit the ground running when they got into the league whereas Forte has been coming into his own. I think that due to the amount of young running backs in the league there is less trust to get the extra yards or score so teams are passing more to their giant targets at WR.

Since: May 22, 2007
Posted on: August 17, 2012 7:21 am

Have We Seen the Last HOF RB?

You make an interesting point and while I agree with your premise about HOF running backs, I may have to disagree with your logic. One reason I think running backs are taking a back seat, is because they are not the best athletes on the team. I believe this is reserved for wide receivers and DBs now as more of the offense is geared to throwing and the defenses need great athletes too.

Another reason running backs are faltering, is because the defensive schemes are betting and the athletes on the defensive side of the ball are faster and bigger. This has also led to bigger and faster running backs. When they collide, you have a lot of injuries, so I agree with your injury premise and when backs are overused, they tend to break down.

Very few running backs are like Steven Jackson, so with 10000 plus yards, he'll most likely get into the HOF. Besides, Jackson is also a good pass receiver(369 receptions for 3000 yds), which will help when his stats are reviewed by the HOF committee. Also, you mentioned durability, which is key because you have so many big and fast players in football and on a running play, there are bodies flying everywhere, so, more injuries.

One other thing I want to add here is the great running backs in the NFL today are guys who can run and catch, like Texans Arian Foster and the Ravens Ray Rice. So, even though a running back may not get the rushing yardage, if they get a lot receptions, to go along with excellent running stats, their chances of making the HOF go up.

Let's also remember, the days of relying on one RB in the NFL are over, because you're not going to run a guy 30 times in a game, like Emmett Smith or O.J. Simpson, because he's your best player and the success of the team depends on him being healthy and fresh. Therefore, coaches limit the number of carries.

If you know your NFL history, in the old days, they ran the ball a lot and threw maybe 15 times or less in a game. The rule changes make it easier to pass and score, so teams adapted. I'm pretty sure you won't see another 2000 yard rusher unless they add 2 more games to the regular season.  Very few teams give an RB 20 carries in a game any more, so with fewer opportunities, fewer rushing yards. However, RBs who can run and catch passes are going to be the ones who make it to the HOF in the future. Total yards(running and pass receiving) will be the measuring stick for running backs to make it into the HOF.

Since: Jan 18, 2007
Posted on: August 16, 2012 12:21 am

Have We Seen the Last HOF RB?

Absolutely not.  The running game is still half of the offense.  Football is always changing but it is still cyclical.  The rise of spread offenses and west coast offenses has meant the defenses changed to keep up.  But soon, it will be hard to revolutionize that kind of offense and balance will come back.  Who knows?  Maybe some genius coordinator will find a new way to incorporate the run.

I also expect that power will come back as opposed to today's trend of speed, speed, speed.  The way to loosen up a defense is to run right at them.  That won't go away.  The game is always changing, and all it takes is one hotshot coordinator to figure out how to use the run to exploit the weakness of defenses designed to stop Tom Brady and Drew Brees.  Once that happens, more teams will copy the blueprint and defenses will evolve again.  That's why football is great.

Since: Mar 21, 2010
Posted on: August 12, 2012 11:53 am

Have We Seen the Last HOF RB?

The short answer to your question is no.

Bad weather, the need to keep defenses honest from defending against the pass, and using the run to run out the clock in the fourth quarter will always keep the run game relevant. Add in screen passes, check downs, and releasing running backs into pass patterns and you see why I am not buying the notion that running backs are going to be dramatically less productive or can not have Hall of Fame careers.

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