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michael89156

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« : December 23, 2012, 12:29:57 AM »



Running the ball: Is it that important?
 
Brian Billick
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Every Wednesday until the Super Bowl, Brian Billick will write a weekly column looking in-depth at different aspects of the modern NFL and will discuss experiences and insights he gained while coaching and broadcasting.
 
The modern history of football — roughly the first decade of the Super Bowl era — was shaped by the old school running attacks that dominated the game in the ’60s and ’70s. The relentless nature of Vince Lombardi’s Packers — and their simple power sweep elevated to brutal perfection — along with Don Shula’s Dolphins and the early incarnation of the Steelers’ dynasty under Chuck Noll all shared the crucial qualities of a punishing, efficient running game and a suffocating defense. (It didn’t hurt, of course, that this was also the beginning of the cinematic documentation and celebration of those same teams through the seminal work of NFL Films.)
 
Though we are now 35 years into a new era, marked by the liberalized passing rules put through in the ’70s and refined since then, it’s amazing how people are still swayed by those indelible images of Larry Csonka bulldozing up the middle or Franco Harris slicing through gaping holes in the line. Pundits still talk about how important it is to establish the running game and, in turn, stop the run.
 
Of course, the diminished need for a powerful running game has been well documented in recent years. Of the past four Super Bowl champions, only New Orleans was a top 10 rushing team the year they won it all. In fact, the others were not simply mediocre — they were more like dreadful: the Giants ranking last in the NFL in rushing yards in 2011, Green Bay ranking 24th in 2010 and even the Pittsburgh Steelers finishing 23rd in the league in rushing in 2008.
 
Even in the case of the Saints, the running game was a byproduct of the prolific passing attack; with future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees at the helm, the rushing game was just an adjunct to the offense that allowed them to close out games once Brees had passed them into a big lead.
 

When you look at the top teams in the NFL in rushing so far this year, you see a few that do that one thing well, but little else. Minnesota, Buffalo and Kansas City rank 3rd, 4th and 5th, currently in rushing yardage in the NFL, and none have winning records. Meanwhile, at the top of the standings, several Super Bowl contenders — Green Bay, Denver, Baltimore, Atlanta — rank in the bottom third of the league in rushing yards. When James Starks ran for a touchdown for the Packers Sunday, his teammates (and many Packers fans) reacted like they’d just won a championship. It was understandable: Green Bay hadn’t scored a rushing touchdown in seven games.
 
But as smart fans know, rushing yardage is an overrated stat, largely shaped by circumstance. Defensive stats against the run are also a little sketchy. Tampa Bay currently leads the NFL in rush defense only because they are so bad at pass defense no one bothers to try and run on them. Denver ranks up there as well, but because Peyton Manning is having another MVP year the Broncos get ahead and everyone has to pass to try to keep up.
 
Still, there’s hardly a coach alive who doesn’t preach the importance of running the ball and stopping the run, because the ability to do those two things — if not well, then at least credibly — gives you so many more options in the rest of your attack and defense. Take Baltimore: The Ravens aren’t a dominant running team, but the ability to have a back like Ray Rice keeps defenses somewhat honest. Without him, the Ravens become a largely one-dimensional team, relying too much on Joe Flacco to fuel the passing attack.
 
Among the handful of teams that are in the top 10 in both categories, you will find some legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Behind Arian Foster, Houston is sixth in rushing yards, and also second against the run. San Francisco is second in rushing yards (with an impressive 5.3 per carry), and third against the run, allowing just 90 yards per game and just 3.6 per carry. New England is less impressive, but remains in the top ten in both rushing yardage (8th) and against the run (9th).
 

These three teams have been among the most consistent in the league this year, and that bodes well for the playoffs. And these teams offer game-plan headaches. It’s not enough to stop one mode of attack, since most of these teams can hurt you in multiple ways.
 
And a team that has been getting better in those categories as the season goes along — like Washington, where the Redskins are an RG3-assisted first in rushing offense but also fourth in rushing defense — will be a tough out if and when it qualifies for the playoffs.
 
It could be that we’re in the midst of a throwback year, in which running the ball and stopping the run are given renewed significance. If that’s the case, a team like the 49ers or Texans would fit the classic mold of a tough, punishing, unspectacular team that wears down its opponents at the line of scrimmage, then knocks it out with the big strike. Just like the Packers, Dolphins and Steelers did in the first decade of the Super Bowl era.

Boid Fink

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« #1 : December 23, 2012, 12:46:06 AM »

One can say yes, one can say no.

The evidence supports both notions.


The Anti-Java

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« #2 : December 23, 2012, 01:34:05 AM »

I say yes.   A balanced offense is good.  When teams decided to shut down Dougie, that is when the season went south.  Free could not carry the offense.
« : December 23, 2012, 03:15:21 AM The Anti-Java »


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PewterReportMC....
\\\\\\\"Java, do you understand this a perfect example of why people beg me to suspend or ban you on a daily basis? Are you actually trying to make a point? Seriously what is the reason for even commenting. In fact why do you even bother coming to the boards? What happened to the intelligent poster from years ago?  A real shame. Like the Bucs yesterday, a wasted effort.\\\\\\\"

bucs449

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« #3 : December 23, 2012, 02:56:58 AM »

A team that relies on play action to create plays needs to present the threat of the run, not necessarily the ability to run. It's becoming harder and harder to ground and pound up the field and time of possession is becoming an almost meaningless stat with guys like Brady going up tempo and slinging downfield to athletic recievers who can create a lot of yac. Running the ball definitely has a place in football still, but I believe we are going to see this continuing tranformation to more "gimmick" type runs and less full back down hill type runs. Teams with the athletic QBs will continue to develop their option games, while other teams will try to spread teams out and run against a six man box. Wouldn't surprise me if most teams don't have a full back in a few years.
« : December 23, 2012, 03:00:14 AM bucs449 »

Benchwarmer#1

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« #4 : December 23, 2012, 10:11:41 AM »

Teams that have a very accurate QB sometimes do not need to adhere to the old school ways in today's NFL.

Running the ball is indeed the most effective way to get from point A to point B, however, the offense, and the coaches have two things to consider than one (pass & run). In the NFL the simplistic approach is best. Playcalls and designed plays can more than make up for running playcalls.

For example, the QB can throw 50 times per game, as long as he spreads it around graciously. Certain designed plays take the CB out of the equation and have the WR play close to the line, once he catches it blockers may already be set up in the form of other WR's or TE's. NE plays plays like this all the time with great success.

Running the ball isn't as effective as it once was, but it can damn sure stall a game when you are up a few points, and it's nice to have the ability to run when the opposing team is concentrating on the pass (or are bad against the run). Having a good running game is nice, but I'd preffer a offense that passes on most downs and spreads the wealth. There are too many penalties that could be counted on a pass play versus the run play, PI, QB penalties, etc.

 In playoffs however, it's most beneficial to have a running game, so much so that it almost flipflops value. Teams in playoffs aren't going to give you as many penalties to work with, and they aren't going to have a weak passing defense(as evident of the Bucs not being in POs)

Naismith was right about Revis. Everyone else is a dummy.

JC5100

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« #5 : December 23, 2012, 11:41:25 AM »

I say yes.   A balanced offense is good.  When teams decided to shut down Dougie, that is when the season went south.  Free could not carry the offense.

That's funny because I thought the season went south when the defense kept blowing 4th qtr lead after 4th qtr lead.
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