In 2016, Rams running back Todd Gurley II rushed for a total of 885 yards and averaged 3.2 yards a carry, shocking many fans who were expecting a season much more like his rookie year.
In 2017, Gurley bounced back with 2,093 yards from scrimmage, 1,305 yards rushing, 4.8 yards per carry and 13 touchdowns, putting him at the forefront of the MVP conversation.
The 2017 season proved to everyone that Gurley was in fact the freaky-talented star that his rookie season had us ready to believe. But to me, it only further proved that the running back position is complicated. It’s a position that is so highly dependent on a series of other factors that it becomes hard to gauge who are the most efficient at their job.
Another example would be in Green Bay. In 2016, the Packers lost so much of their running back depth to injury that they turned to wide receiver Ty Montgomery, who actually did a very good job filling in. He did well enough that he retained the starting role in 2017, until getting injured. Rookie running back Aaron Jones then stepped in and looked terrific, putting up 346 yards and 3 touchdowns in 4 games. But then, you guessed it, he went down and running back Jamaal Williams stepped up. Williams also did a serviceable job.
You’re probably thinking, "Okay, but what does this all mean?"
Well, what I’m saying is, if one of the premier running backs in the league (Gurley) can be completely shut down for an entire season, and if a squad of running backs with relatively low expectations can become a thriving rushing corp., why should a team throw a running back a big contract?
Well, it’s in my belief that they shouldn’t, with an exception to a select few, elite level players. I don’t believe Dion Lewis is quite there.
Lewis is coming off an amazing season with New England, gaining 1,110 yards from scrimmage in 2017, which has many Dolphins fans calling for the team to take a look at him. It’s rumored right now that his asking price will be in the same range as Latavius Murray’s contract with Minnesota, which was a three-year, $15 million deal with incentives. Though I think there’s a team out there that will offer him more.
Dion Lewis is unsigned for 2018. You feel me?— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) January 14, 2018
It must be said, I’m a huge fan of Lewis. He’s one of the shiftiest backs in the league. He is extremely talented as a pass catcher, and has an incredible ability to run between the tackles.
Dion Lewis is one of the most elusive players I've seen in my life— steven (@ShadySteven) November 27, 2016
However, Dion Lewis will be sneaking into his 8th year as a pro and will be turning 28. By no means is that too old for this league, but the explosiveness between a player in their early 20s and late 20s becomes noticeable, especially when the wear and tear begins to take a larger toll.
It’s also important to note, the New England Patriots have a tremendous system. This system has been benefiting running backs for years, much like how Andy Reid has done with his running backs (Jamaal Charles, Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware, and now Kareem Hunt).
Taking a player out of this system, and expecting them to mirror their earlier stats, is highly unrealistic. Stevan Ridley had a short-lived, solid career with the Patriots but became obsolete after leaving. The same can basically be said about Shane Vereen. LeGarrete Blount has still shown some promise in Philadelphia, but not nearly comparable to his days in New England.
So how can the Dolphins, a team with so many needs at the offensive line (and potentially receiver in the upcoming months), afford to spend money on a running back who will be given so little to work with. Not to mention when there’s a very viable, young running back in Kenyan Drake already on the roster.
At the end of the day, these players are all professional athletes. Cream of the crop. Every single running back in this league showed potential in college that warranted them being brought into this highly exclusive league. If you give them a gap, they will hit it. Some may not be as good at finding holes [ cough – Trent Richardson – cough], but it won’t matter if a team has the best running back in the league if they are getting hit behind the line by several defenders every time they touch the ball.
Give your running back an offensive line, let them make a hole, and balance the offense to prevent them from loading the box, and you will have your star RB.
Note: I hope you guys find this an enjoyable read. This is the first article I post on here. These are just my opinions, and I hope everyone can respect that. Leave a comment down below about what you think of the situation. #PhinsUp!
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