The strategy for NFL offenses has drastically changed in the last decade. With five-wide formations and West Coast-based offenses being led by quarterbacks who have played in pass-happy schemes since high school, pro offenses are producing at historical levels.
But for teams that want to win, a successful running game is crucial. In 2014, the top 11 rushing teams compiled a record of 100-74-2. The 11 teams with the worst ground games mustered a record of 76-112. The end results confirm that teams that can establish the run tend to win more games.
Many factors go into a successful rushing attack but none more than the talent at running back. Some offensive schemes have a single back who receives the majority of carries. Such an approach lessens the resources a team might invest at the position, and keeps the offense unpredictable because it will engage in fewer situational substitutions.
More teams have started to utilize multiple backs throughout the season to keep talented players fresh. Reducing wear over long-term periods is also important, as a recent study by Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com suggested that running backs see decline in production at age 27.
Since there is great value in having a very good backup, we will look at the seven most talented running back tandems in the NFL. There are notable star running backs not included on this list because their backup is not starter quality if they were to be injured.
This list focuses on pure talent and how these tandems will perform in 2014. How the combination performed last season has been included.
All stats used are from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required) or sports-reference.com. All combine and pro day info is courtesy of ESPN.com. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac.com.