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What If We Judged Running Backs Like We Do Quarterbacks?

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If only Frank Gore had gained more yards, in and of himself, we might have won...right? Lunacy.
If only Frank Gore had gained more yards, in and of himself, we might have won...right? Lunacy.

I read a piece by Jim Trotter today about the way quarterbacks are judged in the modern era. The basis is that we unfortunately judge them more on their statistics, yards and touchdowns mostly, than on their team's record. We judge them by their numbers when there are so many other players on whom their success is contingent. This got me thinking of an analogy, which brought about a question:

What if we judged running-backs in the same manner as quarterbacks? Or, why don't we?

You never hear someone say, "Man, if only Frank Gore was more like Barry Sanders, we'd have won that game for sure."

You never hear, "And now is the time for Steven Jackson to bring his team back from this deficit."

Jump for more soap-box treatment.

I get it...passing the ball is quicker, and generally can gain more yards per attempt...generally. But even if you look at closing a game out, such as running the ball with a lead...you still rarely hear someone say that if only their running back had gained more yardage, in and of himself, that the team would have won.

Sure, it's apples and oranges. But both positions rely on so many other factors and players in order to get their job done. Both need blocking, both have to avoid the defense. The QB has to rely on his receivers to run the right routes and catch the ball when thrown.

Yet in the end, even if there were dropped passes, poor blocking by the O-Line, or incorrect routes-run, we'll say that Alex Smith (or Mark Sanchez, or Joe Flacco, or Matt Ryan) just wasn't able to lead his team to victory.

What happens when the RB faces a disguised run-blitz and is met by five guys in the hole? When the O-Line doesn't block well-enough? Or what if he simply gains his three-to-four yards per carry, but no more...and the opposition get's the ball back and scores?

Do we then say, "Man, I bet Jim Brown could have closed that game out. We need a better running back."?

Of course we don't.

It's all relative, obviously. QB's DO make mistakes with the game on the line, too. But I think we judge them too harshly by the numbers, by the highlights, etc. Consider another position that get's that treatment, despite it's crucial role in the game.

There isn't one.