We're prime for a golden age of power running backs...

While I'm writing this post, I'm watching the ticker on of the Cardinals / Rams thursday night game. As I type these words, Kevin Kolb is 15/31 136 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs. I this era of "high-powered passing offenses" we're seeing mediocre quarterbacks thrusted into a position where their head coaches feel they neeed to keep up with those passing offenses, so we see pathetic numbers like today with far more regularity.

As the same time the quarterback is throwing the ball for an amazing 4.4 yards per attempt, the poor running back on the team as a grand total of 10 rushing attempts.

This is on a team, mind you, that is undefeated. So far, in the 3rd quarter, they've managed a whopping total of 3 points. I'm glad that I don't have the NFL network to watch this and I have the time to type this and watch reruns of NCIS. How bad is it that watching reruns of NCIS is better than a live footbal game in itself???

But that is besides the point of this post. This post is a counter-argument to all those "the passing game is king and the running game is dead" arguments I've heard over the past 2-4 years through various people. You may think I'm crazy, but if you listen well and pay attention, you'll see it in what I am about to say.

In the past 10-15 years we've seen a gradual increase of passing staticstics with those of the runningbacks falling off. In fact, runningbacks have fallen so out of favor, that many head coaches would rather have 3 players on the roster who can do 1 thing well instead of one back who can do all of those things well becuase that one player is often more expensive that those other three backs combined. With the shelf life of runningbacks hitting an all time low at somewhere just over 3 decades of their life, they're also a danger to keep onto and develop. This doesn't bode well for my argument, but hear me out.

I'm here to point out one simple fact which will bring in the revival of the power running game.

Defenses are queuing for the passing attack.

They're getting faster and faster, quicker and quicker, smaller and smaller.

Prime for a group of big, powerful, punishing runningbacks the likes we haven't seen since John Riggins.

We saw flashes of this in Peyton Hillis' amazing, Madden Cover making 2010 Season. We saw flashes of this in Tim Tebow's suprising second half of last season.

Defenses are prepared for the Tom Bradys, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers of the world. They aren't prepared for a power running game.

I know, this league is a copy-cat league, and everyone is trying to emulate the points that those three QB's can put up, but in doing so, they're holding onto more defensive backs on their roster, linebackers are becoming more specialized in either defending the pass in coverage or rushing the passer, and more teams are using hybrid, undersized defensive linemen whos only goal is to collect the sacks.

When Hillis and Tebow were working their magic, they were running headlong into the fray, and especially with Tebow, late in the game, defensive backs weren't into hitting him anymore. They'd had enough. Hence his terrible stats early in the game, and electric stats late in the game. Defenses weren't able to bring the pain, becuase the pain was brought to them.

Quarterbacks are taking more and more hits than ever before, simply becuase they're throwing the ball more and more than they have ever done before. Today, Kevin Kolb is on pace for 45 passing attempts, 50% completion ratio, and maybe a 250 yard game.

Eventually, a head coach is going to realize this, draft a big, powerful runningback and a beastly fullback, put them together with a nice blocking tight end, and wreak havoc on the NFL. The team to do this will be 3-4 years ahead of the curve and they'll enjoy a few years of success (if the rest of their team shows as much vision from the front office).

Today's NFL defenses would be powerless to stop the great running attacks of the 1980's. A John Riggins type player, with a visionary coach, would have games with 40 carries for nearly 200 yards more times than he would have less than 60 yards. That team would dominate the line of scrimmage, and today's NFL defenses wouldn't have the heart to put their helmet in there and take all that punishment in the 3rd and 4th quarter. Those 3-4 yard rushes in the 1st quarter would turn into 6-7 yard rushes in the second half, and those small linebackers, safeties, and CB's would start to shy away from contact.

It wouldn't be winning pretty, and in some games, they may get blown out by those high powered offenses, but the team that does that would garner a great deal of success and reinvent the offense for the NFL. In fact, if you look at the Saints, the year they won the Super Bowl, it wasn't becuase of a 10,000 yard passing attack, it was becuase opposing defenses had to cover both their powerful run attack as well as their amazing pass defense. We like to think of Troy Aikman as a great QB, but in all factual evidence, he was a clutch game manager, perhaps the best game manager the game has ever seen, who relied on his beast to dominate games and dictate the game to opposing defenses.

Elite QB's make their head coaches blind to this possibility. They think that they've got to put the ball up 40-50 times a game to get their "playmakers" the ball. But they fail to realize that those playmakers benefit greatly from Safeties in the box, close to the line, so those deep strikes aren't nearly as well covered as when they're playingg deep becuase the world knows that the head coach has fallen in love with the deep strike.

We saw this a lot and the start of the evolution of this thought in our head coach. He loves using Aaron Rodgers, and often times, last year, he completely forgot that we even had a good runningback in Ryan Grant. Late last year, and early this year, he's seen the evolution of defenses to cover that deep attack. Safeties aren't coming up to attack the runningback, linebackers are bailing in the passing game, and defensive linemen are pinning their ears back and going after Rodgers.

His defense to this is Cedric Benson, an aging, powerful back, who was once throught to be an elite prospect, but who has had his trials in life. So far, he's been a model Packer, and the writing is on the wall for the Packers. That writing is that you can't do it by air alone. There is a Military Maxim. Air power can win a war, but you need boots on the ground to finish the job.

Oh, at this time, the Cardinals we stopped on 4th down in the 4th quarter. Kolb is 26/46 269 yards. 0 TDs, 0 INTs. 3 points. The winning team? The Rams. 24 rushes, 21 passing attempts.

I think the most likely Back in the NFL today that can do it is Trent Richardson, if his coach realizes that Wheedon is not the key to victory. If they build that offense around him, getting linemen who can run block first, get a solid fullback, and stay true to a pounding style offense, not only is Wheedon serviceable, but play action would be deadly.

In Benson, I believe that we see our next 1st round pick. It's even possible that we take a page out of the Falcon's page, and trade a draft season for a top flight Runningback like Marcus Lattimore, or look for us to see if one of a top back falls to us later in the draft. Not only is it possible, but I think it's likely that we use one of our first 2 draft picks on a back that can learn from Benson if we can sign him to another 1 or two year deal to end out his career.

If we're able to get ahead of the curve, and be able to dedicate 40-50% or more of our offense to a powerful running game, it will open up Rodgers to be the winningest QB in the history of the game. It would be an matter of pick your poison. Death by getting trampled on becuase you are protecting the pass, or death by the passing game becuase you have too many people in the box.

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