NFL KICKING OFF: GOOD THINGS COME IN PAIRS
August 2, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
What’s better than having a great running back on your team? Having two!
Last season, 14 clubs boasted two running backs with at least 400 rushing yards apiece, including six playoff teams – Cincinnati, Denver, Indianapolis, Green Bay, New England and San Diego. Despite the proliferation of the passing game, teams have continued to rely on different options in the backfield to gain an advantage.
“I think you see most teams in the league using multiple running backs,” says Patriots head coach BILL BELICHICK. “It’s a tough position to play and you’ve got everybody after you when you have that ball. So to have multiple guys that can do it and spread the load a little bit, then you just have a fresher guy who’s stronger, fresher and ready to go on every down.”
The Chargers would agree. Led by the versatile duo of RYAN MATHEWS (far left) and DANNY WOODHEAD (left), San Diego had the sixth-best rushing attack in the AFC at 122.8 yards per game and won five of its last six games to earn a playoff berth.
Mathews finished the season second in the AFC with 1,255 rushing yards while Woodhead added 429 yards of his own.
“We always play with a couple of backs, it doesn’t matter who’s in there,” says Chargers head coach MIKE MC COY. “Keeping them fresh, that’s the big thing. Play the hot hand while you roll.”
San Diego was one of three playoff teams (Denver and Green Bay) that got a little extra from its running back tandem. Each team boasted a backfield with one running back that gained at least 1,000 rushing yards and a second back who amassed at least 400 yards. Denver’s rushing attack was led by KNOWSHON MORENO (1,038) and MONTEE BALL (559) on the way to an appearance in Super Bowl XLVIII. Aided by the combination of Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year EDDIE LACY (1,178) and veteran JAMES STARKS (493), the Packers won the NFC North title.
“We have multiple guys who can run the ball effectively,” says Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS. “Eddie and James have done good things and the offense is better with them running well.”
The teams that employed two running backs with at least 400 rushing yards each in 2013:
TEAM RUNNING BACK YARDS RUNNING BACK YARDS
Arizona Rashard Mendenhall 687 Andre Ellington 652
Baltimore Ray Rice 660 Bernard Pierce 436
Buffalo C.J. Spiller 933 Fred Jackson 890
Cincinnati BenJarvus Green-Ellis 756 Giovani Bernard 695
Denver Knowshon Moreno 1,038 Montee Ball 559
Detroit Reggie Bush 1,006 Joique Bell 650
Green Bay Eddie Lacy 1,178 James Starks 493
Houston Ben Tate 771 Arian Foster 542
Indianapolis Donald Brown 537 Trent Richardson* 458
Miami Lamar Miller 709 Daniel Thomas 406
New England Stevan Ridley 773 LeGarrette Blount 772
San Diego Ryan Mathews 1,255 Danny Woodhead 429
Tampa Bay Bobby Rainey** 532 Doug Martin 456
*Split 2013 between Indianapolis and Cleveland (563 total rushing yards)
**Split 2013 between Tampa Bay and Cleveland (566 total rushing yards)