The NFL has morphed into a league of diverse backfields…or so that is what the talking heads will tell you. For 18 of the 32 NFL teams, one running back accounts for 63 percent or more of the offensive touches – some very much higher than that.
Why is Dallas going to miss Ezekiel Elliott when his suspension kicks in, but Kareem Hunt and Le’Veon Bell aren’t far behind.
Just how big a disparity is there on some teams? Some much more than others. These are the top two running backs in terms of touches (rushes and receptions) over the No. 2 guy on the roster. Some of the names may surprise you.
Dallas – Ezekiel Elliott 122, Alfred Morris 8. Elliott 94 percent.
Los Angeles Rams – Todd Gurley 146, Malcolm Brown 15. 91 percent.
Pittsburgh – Le’Veon Bell 164, John Connor 17. Bell 91 percent.
Kansas City – Kareem Hunt 127, Charcandrick West 16. Hunt 89 percent.
Miami – Jay Ajayi 109, Damien Williams 15. Ajayi 88 percent.
Los Angeles Chargers – Melvin Gordon 127, Brandon OIiver 22. Gordon 85 percent.
Indianapolis – Frank Gore 96, Marlon Mack 30. Gore 76 percent.
Detroit – Ameer Abdullah 100, Theo Riddick 35. Abdullah 74 percent.
Buffalo – LeSean McCoy 114, Mike Tolbert 42. – McCoy 73 percent.
Jacksonville – Leonard Fournette 145, Chris Ivory 56. Fournette 72 percent.
San Francisco – Carlos Hyde 109, Matt Breida 44. Hyde 71 percent.
Denver – C.J. Anderson 92, Jamaal Charles 42. Anderson 69 percent.
Oakland – Marshawn Lynch 74, Jalen Richard 34. Lynch 69 percent.
Houston – Lamar Miller 113, D’Onta Foreman 53. Miller 68 percent.
Philadelphia – LaGarrette Blount 73, Wendell Smallwood 36. Blount 67 percent.
Cleveland – Isaiah Crowell 83, Duke Johnson 47. Crowell 64 percent.
Atlanta – Devonta Freeman 90, Tevin Coleman 52 – Freeman 63 percent.
Chicago – Jordan Howard 129, Tarik Cohen 76. Howard 63 percent.
Being the best in the league is something every fantasy owner wants from his players, but, if you can’t have the best guy, having the best guy on his team is the next best thing.
- If you were to be asked who is the best kicker all-time in making consecutive field goals from inside of 50 yards, how many guesses would have needed to get the right answer – Ryan Succop. I’m not sure I would have got that Succop’s 47th straight field goal from inside 50 yards would break the record held by Matt Bryant.
- In the last three games, Houston rookie QB DeShaun Watson has thrown for 776 yards and 12 touchdowns, posting passer ratings of 125.0, 119.8 and 103.4. Not too shabby for a guy who a lot of scouts felt would need a lot of time to develop at the NFL level.
- The AARP would be proud of what Arizona accomplished Sunday, as the geriatric Triplets to a big step forward. In their first game together. Carson Palmer threw for 283 yards and three touchdowns, Adrian Peterson rushed 26 times for 134 yards and two touchdowns and Larry Fitzgerald caught 10 passes for 138 yards and one TD. It likely won’t last, but for one game, it was nice to see some old guys dominate a young man’s game.
- Speaking of Peterson, when can a trade be a win-win? When both guys who were butting heads in one place are separated. Peterson wasn’t the only one who benefitted from his trade to Arizona. Mark Ingram had by far the best game of his season, rushing 25 times for 114 yards and two touchdowns and catching five passes for 36 yards. It took time to realize Peterson was a mistake in New Orleans and now things look more back to normal.
The razor’s edge
- Close, But No Cigar – At a certain point, you have to start feeling a little bit sorry for the San Francisco 49ers. They’re 0-6, which, at face value tells you they stink. But in their last five games, they’ve played just one home game (Week 3 vs. the Rams) and four games on the road – at Seattle, Arizona, Indianapolis and Washington. They have lost those five games by a total of 3, 2, 3, 3 and 2 points. They’re more snake-bit than awful.
- Everything Old is Newton Again – The Carolina Panthers had the opportunity to vault themselves into the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Coming off a big road win at Detroit, the Panthers were at home against the 4-1 Eagles with everything going their way. Not only did the Panthers abandon the run – their three running backs combined to have 13 carries for one yard – Cam Newton threw 52 passes with three of them being intercepted and his opposite number (Carson Wentz) threw three touchdowns and has a passer rating of 110.7. It wasn’t a back-breaker, but it was a loss that prevented the Panthers from having a critical tie-breaker that could cost them down the line.
- Refs Need to Know Their Role – It’s hard enough for the Jets to go up against New England with a legitimate chance to win. That job gets much more difficult when the refs are jobbing you. The NFL officials have drawn a line in the sand that the bogus turnover call against Austin Seferian-Jenkins doesn’t get any more logical the farther away it gets. If you didn’t see the play, ASJ caught the ball near the goal and made a football move to get the ball over the pylon. Along the way he got hit and the ball moved in his hands. To be a fumble, in my humble view, the ball has to touch the ground. It never did. It moved in his hands, but when he hit the ground, he was still in possession of the ball and it never left his possession. At worst it should have been ruled an incompletion, not a fumble in the end zone and a touchback. No zebra’s explanation will change that. It’s time to get rid of the Calvin Johnson/Dez Bryant Rule or change it so it doesn’t cost a team a game.
- Going Down With the Ship – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came into the 2017 season as one of the up and coming teams that people werebooking passage on their bandwagon. Through their first five games, their only wins have come at home against Chicago and the Giants. They’ve played three quality teams (Minnesota, New England and Arizona) and lost all off them. The can still right the ship because six of their final 10 games will be against the division, but they’re quickly putting themselves in the position that they will have to win them all and you don’t inspire confidence when you allow three old players (Palmer, Peterson and Fitzgerald) to do the kind of number they did on the Bucs defense.
- Dropping the Ball in Baltimore – When they got off to a 2-0 start with two division wins – granted against Cincinnati and Cleveland – they had all of the advantages in the AFC North. Since then, they have lost three of their last four games and in each of those games, they have scored just one offensive touchdown in each. They don’t have the defense to consistently win those types of games and, with three of their next four games on the road, they’re going to have to learn a way to pull out of this tailspin or they’ll be on the outside looking in on New Years Day.
- The Best Defense Is a Bad Offense – When the Detroit Lions saw the New Orleans Saints on their 2017 schedule, they had to be licking their chops at the prospect of unleashing their offense on a New Orleans team that has struggled to stop veteran quarterbacks. Instead, the Lions had 52 points dropped on them, including three defensive touchdowns. With a chance to move into a three-way tie for first in the NFC North, the Lions fell behind 45-10 midway through the third quarter and had all the looks of previous Lions teams that have strung together enough wins to be impressive enough to get there, but vulnerable enough to get blown out of the water by teams that should be the equals – or less.
- Bad Memories Fade Slowly – Any time the Atlanta Falcons have a lead, there is always the sinking feeling in the back of their heads that something bad is going to happen. The Falcons had their epic fail against the Patriots in the Super Bowl and, after losing 23-17 to Buffalo at home, they blew a halftime lead, came back to tie the game with seven minutes to play only to allow two field goals in a minute-and-a-half for the margin of defeat. With a chance to finally exact some revenge on the AFC East, the
Falcons, who were coming off their bye week to face the offensively challenged Dolphins. All things were going to plan when the Falcons opened a 17-0 lead. It all fell apart when they allowed the final 20 points of the game to hand Dan Quinn another giant come-from-ahead loss. That stink is hard to get rid of, especially heading into New England next Sunday night for the rematch.
- Crashing In the Mountains – The Denver Broncos had a chance to go 4-1 by winning their fourth home game of the year – a disproportionate number that will have a receipt being called in later in the season. It couldn’t have been a better scenario for a team to have- the 0-5 Giants who are crippled and a broken locker room coming into to Denver’s house to take their most recent beating from a bye-rested Broncos team. Instead, New York dominated. The Giants ran 32 times – 10 times more than they threw – and Denver dropped to pass 60 times while giving the ball to their running backs just 15 times. The problem isn’t so much the humbling loss, but the Broncos have road games coming the next three weeks with the Chargers, Chiefs and Steelers and, when they finally come home, the Patriots are coming to town. We’ll find out just how good (or not good) the Broncos are in the next month.
- The Autumn Wind Is a Raider and the Air Quality is Bad – As if things in Northern California couldn’t be worse, the Raiders are taking a nosedive that may be difficult to pull out from. After two weeks, they were 2-0 and had blown out their opponents by a combined 71-36. They were DaBomb.com. They haven’t won since. Averaging more than 35 points a game in their first two, they haven’t score more than 17 in any of the four games since, being outscored 90-53. In the last two of those four losses, they got beat at home by Baltimore and the Chargers – two teams that have found it difficult to win at home, much less on the road. With the last chance to salvage a three-game home stand against Denver, the Raiders have already matched their loss total from last year, they’re technically in last place in the AFC West and things don’t get any easier from here.
- Turning the Offense Over to Brett – It’s been 25 years since the Green Bay Packers had an offense being operated by a guy named Brett. However, this isn’t Favre, it’s Hundley and the Packers have encountered a Scorched-Earth policy with the broken collarbone suffered by Aaron Rodgers. He’s only been sidelined once in his career due to injury and, in those eight games he didn’t start or finish, the Packers went 2-5-1. With the other injuries they have on both sides of the ball, what looked to be one of the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl is now grasping for a life boat that seems to be floating away from them. One injury typically doesn’t kill a team, but an injury to a guy like Rodgers can.