The Running Back's Struggle



Josh last time we had ESPN. It was to talk about fullbacks today. We're talking about running backs in our way through the backfield man just like Aaron Donald Josh firms. Meyer writes about football for five thirty eight Josh late last week. The Rams announced in a shocking move that they were releasing running back. Todd Gurley. This was a remarkable turn of events Given that girlie one offensive player of the year in twenty seven teen thoroughly. He was discussed by some people as an MVP candidate in two thousand eighteen on route to the Super Bowl led the league in rushing touchdowns that year. The ten the five untouched. To the end zone touchdown todd Gurley and on top of that. He's only twenty five years old. What happened my goodness twenty five year? Old running backs are already aging out. The first thing that happened to him was he has arthritic me. So at the end of the two thousand eighteen season he had to be replaced and spelled by Anderson Mentally played a little bit in the Super Bowl but he was just entirely ineffective. Fortunately that ineffectiveness carried over into the twenty nine thousand nine season and inbetween. He was given an extension that made him one of the highest. Pay running backs in the league. So this season couple that knee with his expense the caps situation in a loss Angeles and he just became a casualty and I think he is kind of an exemplar for everything. That's going on with running backs in the NFL. It's this idea of short and careers injury proneness and loss of effectiveness and therefore being cut or getting lower pay on the day that he was released. Espn stats and Info. Put out an number that I found fascinating in two thousand fifteen year. That Gurley was drafted. Twenty two backs were drafted. Not a single one of them. Josh is still on the team that selected them. What do you make of that goes to this idea of running backs? Having really short shelf life season for running back usually occur in one of their first two seasons at least in terms of productivity in terms of touches. You wear them down so quickly in this league. Though it's one of the toughest position on on the body and so I think the League as we've seen so far this year they still are kind of have a predilection overpay for the very good running backs are the ones that just had a good season but on by and large I think across the league. You're seeing people being really risk averse and moving on from running backs after a couple of seasons. When did you notice that that some teams not all and we'll get to some teams that have continued to pay running backs winded some teams for start to realize that they had been overvaluing the position and wanted to invest elsewhere. It's hard to trace it back specifically to a particular team but I know that People in twitter sphere and analytics the NFL analytics of talked about the replace ability of the running back position for quite a few years. The Philadelphia Eagles were one of the first on board to kind of spend money at the position but spread that money out over multiple players to kind of make the injury risks inherent in the position kind of spread across multiple sets of legs. The Baltimore Ravens are also one of the ones that the forefront of really just paying the absolute minimum that they have to at that position and actually getting pretty good production out of you mentioned that the analytics community was sort of early on this trend. What did they find? What did the data tell us about running backs really two things? Were most important about running the football. The results of run plays are primarily determined by run walking and defenders in the box. The defense and not who's carrying the ball because of that the finding is the inferences. They're running backs are interchangeable and investing a lot of resources whether it's the draft or whether it's free agency just doesn't make a lot of sense is also can be pinned on the changing nature of football itself. By and large. The data tells us that passing more passing. Early is more efficient right absolutely absolutely. I mean it's not even close in terms of the average value of a planet passing versus running on early downs. Then you still have to get into this idea. Of How much does it matter to the mentality of the team? How much does it matter to keep the defense on their toes? How much do you have to do to keep them honest? And so there's no question about how much teams should passing as a percentage of plays but is probably a case. They should be passing more than now. So are there any situations in which running the football is more advantageous absolutely? I absolutely you need to be able to run well at the goal line on Short yardage. If you have a running quarterback like Baltimore had last season definitely scrambling in design runs for quarterback are extremely efficient. Jackson will keep it on the read option expense at the thirty Lamar Jackson. Ted Pa Touch Lavar captain with the spin. This print Emma score. We saw what happened with Baltimore last year. They say hadn't run into that. Tennessee buds buzzsaw in the playoffs. They probably would have made it to the superbowl in my opinion. So there's definitely something to be said for the analytics and say stop running entirely and if you are going to do it do it with deception. Right off of play action. Get the other team guessing. About what your actual formation means and so they lose half a step in responding to what you're doing those are the kind of the things analytics pushes for not not whether or not you should be one hundred percent run or a hundred percent. You mentioned that Tennessee buzzsaw that beat the Baltimore. Ravens upset them. I think a lot of people point to that team to Derrick Henry and say see having a unique generational running back does matter. Look they upset. You Know New England in Baltimore. What would you say to that? I mean he got a twelve point. Five million franchise tag out of that performance. The back end of that year so I understand their point. They're looking at what just happened. They're looking at how he's being rewarded. No saying obviously matters but they beat another rushing team it the problem that I think the face the Ravens and we saw it with Kansas City. And how they didn't share. This same problem was that if you're built around the run whether it's by the quarterback or running it up the middle an wide zone like ravens did last season if you fall behind against a team that is also a ground and pound team in trying to control the clock and control the pace and you put yourself in a position where you have to come back. And you're not used to doing it or you don't have a quarterback quarterback that perhaps his is known for that type of play. You get what happened in in in Baltimore that night Jackson under pressure always lose ball stemming interception Jedi for the titans come up with another turnover hennessy. Titans are shocking the ravens whereas with the city chiefs they fell behind early three straight times but ended up winning the Super Bowl because they have a pass attack higher variants. You could make up ground easier with the passing game that you can with the run. When everything's working great rushing is the first thing you should try. And if you're good at it you should do it as long as you can but when it fails it fails pretty spectacularly and you need to be able to pass and in fact at the NFL level we ever parody is so prevalent that you really should just start out passing at that point because everyone's trying to run and everyone's trying to stop the run so the chiefs are sort of the analytics darling in this scenario because you know they passed their way to the Super Bowl. Josh they also have Patrick Mahomes right. So if you're a team with an average quarterback do you still think it's better to take a pass first approach in every NFL GAME? Even with a mediocre quarterback we find that they are better and teams are better and more efficient passing the ball and in sometimes. It's even more apparent when you have kind of an average or slightly above average quarterback because the defense and the defensive coordinator is almost sure you're going to not rely on them right. They're gonNA say well he's kind of crap you know. They're probably going to run out us all day long. And try and be safe with the ball so to the extent that you can put a mediocre quarterback in good positions like. Perhaps Tennessee did last year. Then you can take quarterback that had been floundering for years like Ryan Tannehill in. Turn him in to one of the best quarterbacks in the league the number one running back by the end of the season a guy that some people thought could have been the super bowl. Mvp was undrafted Damian Williams who is set to make just over a couple million dollars next year. How much does finance or the market factor in to know what we think about running backs today? I think you know if you're a casual fan. And you see everyone else. Basically on the team. Except for the punter and kicker getting more than on average than these running backs. I think it's beginning to percolate that. They're probably not the most important piece on the offense anymore. Things about analytics. Is that unlike baseball? Where like things got more boring? When analytics became involved when analytics can evolved in Football. Become more exciting. We want more passing. We want to go for it on fourth down. We want to know more so I one of the good things about all of this is that you see more aggressive more exciting football when it's played in the way that evidence seems to suggest it should

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