Another view of Peter King’s stat of the week regarding running backs

Peter King does great work and his Monday Morning Quarterback column is a must-read. He has some really enlightening information in the column even if you sometimes question his sources. Obviously Tom Heckert does, as he blatantly told the Cleveland press this week that he hasn’t talked to King in years. Be that as it may, King was talking about the 2012 NFL draft and the Browns’ potential for taking running back Trent Richardson.

I know it’s fashionable to give Trent Richardson, far and away the best back in this draft, to Cleveland at No. 4 in round one Thursday. But with the game becoming more and more of an aerial show, the Browns should be thinking hard about their choice before Thursday.

Six teams in the NFL won 12 or more games last year. Here are those teams, and where the leading rusher on each ranked in league rushing stats last season:

TeamRecordLeading RusherNFL Rank
Green Bay15-1James Starks39
New England13-3BenJarvus Green-Ellis27
New Orleans13-3Darren Sproles33
San Francisco13-3Frank Gore6
Baltimore12-4Ray Rice2
Pittsburgh12-4Rashard Mendenhall21


Ack! That is terrifying. Maybe the Browns should just draft Justin Blackmon!

Let’s look at this a different way though. Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger are basically the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Frank Gore and Ray Rice are tremendous running backs, but they happen to take hand-offs from some guys who are at best on a tier below in Alex Smith and Joe Flacco.

What this list really tells me is that short of having a top top top NFL quarterback, sometimes a team will have to rely on the running game a lot more. Seeing as the Browns are poised to go into this NFL season with either Colt McCoy or a rookie draftee from later this week, I think it might be wise to re-think Peter King’s analysis.

Make no mistake. The Browns will need at least one receiver in the draft. But given the Browns’ prospects at quarterback is it possible to overvalue a three-down running back prospect that can run the ball, catch the ball and also pass block?

Probably not.

  • MrCleaveland

    Also, don’t Green Bay and Pittsburgh alternate two backs a lot? A more telling stat might be total team rushing.

  • BIKI024

    the other thing King mentions (at least in his latest mock draft) is the Brownies trading up into 1st round for a 3rd pick to grab Weeden.  if we do have our sights set on Weeden, maybe that would alter who they take at #4.  pair up Black and Mild’mon and Smoke da Weeden again?

  • Natedawg86

    NYG averaged 89.2 YPG rushing. 
    NE and NYG, have Welker (2nd in receiving) and Cruz (3) in WR stats.  Need to find those WRs, but it takes a whole team to make it to the championship.  

    Draft BPA, we have a lot of holes.  I am excited about Richardson, but have to have faith in the management.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    1) Denver – 164.5 ypg
    2) Houston – 153.0
    3) Carolina – 150.5
    4) Minnesota – 144.9
    5) Philadelphia – 142.3
    6) New Orleans – 132.9
    7) Oakland – 131.9
    8) San Francisco – 127.9
    9) Chicago – 125.9
    10) Baltimore – 124.8

    28) Cleveland – 95.7

    5 of the top 10 went to the playoffs.  Top 2 (Denver and Houston) both won their first round games.

    2 of them made their conference Championship game (SF and BAL) .  None of them went to the Super Bowl. 

    Interesting, but doesn’t really help definitively answer any questions…

  • TheRobot57

    Baltimore is the only team I can think of that doesn’t have much to throw to. That’s another factor as well. None of these receivers seem to be worth the #4 pick though. It has to be between TR and Claiborne.

  • TheRobot57

    I think the fact that those teams would use a committee tells you how devalued the position is. 

  • Harv 21

    Whether you have a leading rusher doesn’t answer the question of whether a successful team must run effectively when it chooses to do so. Also, a wco running back often catches a ton of balls on check downs. Not arguing that we should take Richardson, just pointing out that the effective, versatile RB may still be a crucial cog. 

  • mgbode

    I hate the “one-size-fits-all” arguments on drafting, building a team, et cetera.

    There are MANY different ways to build a team, many different ways to win.  I think that last year’s playoffs should have pounded that home (teams like Denver, SF, Baltimore all winning games), but it doesn’t seem to have worked.

    We can win if we get great NFL players.  We will lose if we don’t.   End of story. 

  • BuckeyeDawg

     For comparison’s sake, here’ the 2011 team PASSING stats (YPG):

    1) New Orleans  – 334
    2) New England – 318
    3) Green Bay – 308
    4) Detroit – 301
    5) NY Giants – 296
    6) San Diego – 277
    7) Dallas – 263
    8) Atlanta – 262
    9) Philadelphia – 257
    10) Pittsburgh – 253

    24) Cleveland – 193

    7 playoff teams there.  All of the top 5 made it in, and both Super Bowl teams are there. 

    Only 2 of the top 5 rushing teams made the playoffs.

  • TheRobot57

    Trading up is something they need to do but I don’t know about Weeden. With another 1st rounder we could clean up on offensive talent that can add more than him. 

  • Ritz

    I agree.

    I think the real answer is that good teams do a lot of things well. Some pass more than others, but most have a very good QB and plenty of weapons around him. None have a bad QB (Like a McCoy, Matt Moore, etc) and none have a dearth of talent around the QB, be it at RB and/or WR.

  • Ritz

    I’ll take Torry Smith and Boldin… Thats not a bad combo at WR.

  • MrCleaveland

     Thanks, Dawg. It really is amazing how devalued the running game has become. If you think about it, how many times do you see a team go shotgun and throw even on 3rd and 1? Quite a few.

  • TheRobot57

    Better than what we have but not like what the rest have at WR and TE. I’d say they’re the exception.

  • saggy


    Trade up as often as possible.  I’ll take talent over depth.  We have plenty of guys who stink.

  • This times 1000. I am so tired of pretending like the Browns can accomplish goals by chasing people who are at the pinnacle right now. You have to go back in time and see where they came from and how they got there.

  • saggy

    With all the talk about Tannehill and Kalil, why is nobody talking about the chance that a team is trying to trade up with Minnesota to snag Richardson?  It’s like somehow that possibility doesn’t exist?  doesn’t make sense that there isn’t even a hint of a rumor out there…

  • Hermie13

    Neither Welker nor Cruz were even drafted.

    Agree completely, takes a whole team to win. Need to go BPA for sure.

  • BenRM

    b/c I don’t think anyone is going to do it. 

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    The debate will continue as long as the Browns have so many holes to fill on offense that’s the problem.  Personally I’d rather have a top notch RB then WR but I’ve always felt that way.  The Browns need both. 

    Anyways I’ve become a proponent of Trent Richardson.  If he’s gone give me Claiborne but I’m not in favor of selecting Blackmon anymore.  I feel there is more of a selection at WR in this draft then there is at RB plus Richardson will be able to touch the ball far more then a WR would by default.

  • Doc

    You lost me at  “Peter King does great work and his Monday Morning Quarterback column is a must-read.”  I strongly encourage everyone to check out the Fun With Peter King takedowns over at Kissing Suzy Kolber.

    PK is a name-dropping, latte-slurping, citrus beer-drinking, grammar-challenged, insight-less buffoon who somehow commands one of the largest internet followings on the internet. 

  • Natedawg86

    Key statement is that we “can win” if we get great players.  Need to get everyone to gel and work cohesively as one unit. 

    Takes a good team, good coaching, and a few lucky bounces among other things to win the SB.

  • mgbode

    I agree and nice job picking up my wording there as it was on purpose.

  • cmm13

    If the Browns not only select Weeden with one of their first three picks but trade up to get him; I’ll need to “smoke da weeden” to calm down from putting my fist through the TV.

  • MadHat

    Ive been wanting TR forever now but if they dont take him they have to take Claiborne or Kalil.  Those are the the only three other than RG and Luck that are worth a top 4 pick.  Something doesnt seem right with Blackmon.  He may be a nice receiver but not top 4 nice. 

  • NoVA Buckeye

    giants were dead last in rushing

  • Jim Brown

        When Mike Holmgren claims that Colt McCoy is his guy, I believe
    him as much as people believed John Elway when he stated, matter of
    factly, that Tim Tebow was his guy and he was going to stick with
    him…lol.   Colt McCoy is what the Cleveland Browns are stuck with,
    until the Browns management is able to get an NFL caliber quarterback
    for their team.  What do you get when you put the best NFL line and the
    best receiving corps together with Colt McCoy, that’s easy…a losing
    NFL football team.  It’s not rocket science, and no matter what spin
    Mike Holmgren puts on it, when he tells himself the truth, he knows
    that currently the Cleveland Browns don’t have a single NFL caliber
    quarterback on their team and he knows it.      To give you a
    perspective here, Tim Tebow is a 5 times better NFL caliber quarterback
    than any quarterback currently on the Cleveland Browns roster!!!! 
    That fact is pretty sad when you sit down and think about it, and it
    clearly shows how bad the Cleveland management has done the past
    several years!

  • DontbringLBJback

    Jim, I got to say that I disagree with your total shredding of Colt McCoy.  I certainly don’t think he’s a great QB, but there are lots of examples of teams with GREAT QB’s that just couldn’t put it all together for one reason or another:

    1) John Elway couldn’t win without Terrell Davis.  Davis was probably the best running back in the league when Denver won their super bowls, but Elway had some great teams previously, but never won until Davis showed up. 

    2) Brett Favre was one of the great QB to ever play.  Why couldn’t he win his last few years in GB?  Why did Rodgers win a SB just 2 years after Favre’s departure?  Maybe it was because all the pieces came together… they rebuilt their defense, solidified their O-Line, etc.  You certainly can’t say Favre just sucked and Rodgers was the only piece that turned them around. 

    There are also examples of CRAPPY QB’s that won Super Bowls.  Trent Dilfer was not a great QB by any stretch of the imagination.  But yet, with a great RB, a solid O-Line, and a hell of a DEF, he has a SB ring. 

    I think Colt McCoy is much like a Trent Dilfer or an Alex Smith… maybe he’s not the best QB out there… maybe he’s even in the bottom 10 in the league… but he has the potential to get it done if you have enough of the right pieces in place around him.  Oh, and he’s not on his back 15 times a game.  🙂

  • micronot

     Alex Smith was considered a bad QB, Sanchez IS a bad QB, yet they make the playoffs due to their TEAM. Really there is know way to know whether or not McCoy is a bad QB until he has a team around him.

    When they had some semblance of a team around McCoy, they managed to beat the Patriots and Saints in back to back weeks.