Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Running Backs Who Lost Their Wheels In 2011: Update

Back in August, I wrote an article about running backs in the NFL.  Specifically, about which ones that were going to have a down year in 2011.

It's a rare running back that has 5+ highly successful years in the NFL at this position.  Two examples would be Adrian Peterson (in his fifth year and going strong) and Steven Jackson (although Jackson has suffered at the hands of a poor offense more years than not).

My feeling is that most running backs either run out of steam or that fire that has made them the best.  Things that can destroy a running back's career include a large contract, a long holdout, carrying the ball too much too many years in a row, and injury.

Running Back Comparison

I compared several running backs and their chances in 2011:  Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ray Rice, and Jamaal Charles.

In the end, I felt that the running backs most likely to have a down year in 2011 were Chris Johnson (contract situation/holdout), Maurice Jones-Drew (size, too many carries in previous years), and Jamaal Charles (lack of offensive focus on the running game).

Chris Johnson has certainly proved me right.  Whether it's due to a change in offensive scheme with the new coaching staff, or that Johnson doesn't have that fire now that he has a big contract, fans have to wonder if he'll return to his old form at some point.  With seven games played, he's way off his usual pace.  Only getting 302 yards on 107 rushing attempts and one touchdown is all he has to show for all those millions he's getting now.

Jamaal Charles had a terribly unfortunate injury (torn ACL) occur to him, but even before that it was questionable as to whether the Chiefs would fully use him in the offense.

Maurice Jones-Drew is still powering through defenses in Jacksonville.  I was definitely wrong with this one, as Jones-Drew's offensive output (currently on pace for a 1,400 yard season with a 4.8 yard/rush average) is very similar to what he's been doing the past two seasons.

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