Another Manning Brady Article: Who's Had The Better Run Game?

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Another Manning Brady Article: Who's Had The Better Run Game?
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Upon writing my first article, I submerged myself in the Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady debate that has been going on for years. One of the arguments I consistently got against Tom Brady was that he always had a better, more consistent running game supporting him while Manning had to deal without. However, a brief comparison between the running games/running backs of the Colts and Patriots from 2001 to 2007 shows that the running games have been much more even than people think.

2001:

Patriots:

13th in rushing offense, 113.1 yards per game, 3.8 yards per carry, 15 touchdown runs

Pro bowl rusher: none

Colts:

7th in rushing offense, 122.9 yards per game, 4.5 yards per carry, 16 touchdown runs

Pro bowl rusher: none

2002:

Patriots:

28th in rushing offense, 94.2 yards per game, 3.8 yards per carry, 9 touchdown runs

Pro Bowl rusher: none

Colts:

26th in rushing offense, 97.6 yards per game, 3.6 yards per carry, 12 touchdown runs

Pro Bowl rusher: none

2003:

Patriots:

27th in rushing offense, 100.4 yards per game, 3.4 yards per carry, 9 touchdown runs

Pro Bowl rusher: none

Colts:

19th in rushing offense, 105.9 yards per game, 3.7 yards per carry, 16 touchdown runs

Pro Bowl rusher: none

2004:

Patriots:

7th in rushing offense, 133.4 yards per game, 4.1 yards per carry, 15 touchdown runs

Pro Bowl rusher: Corey Dillon

Colts:

15th in rushing offense, 115.8 yards per game, 4.3 yards per carry, 10 touchdown runs

Pro Bowl rusher: Edgerrin James

2005:

Patriots:

24th in rushing offense, 94.5 yards per game, 3.4 yards per carry, 16 touchdown runs

Pro Bowl rusher: none

Colts:

16th in rushing offense, 106.4 yards per game, 3.7 yards per carry, 18 touchdown runs

Pro Bowl rusher: Edgerrin James

2006:

Patriots:

12th in rushing offense, 123.1 yards per game, 3.9 yards per carry, 20 touchdown runs

Pro Bowl rusher: none

Colts:

18th in rushing offense, 110.1 yards per game, 4.0 yards per carry, 17 touchdown runs

Pro Bowl rusher: none

2007:

Patriots:

13th in rushing offense, 115.6 yards per game, 4.1 yards per carry, 17 touchdown runs

Pro Bowl rusher: none

Colts:

18th in rushing offense, 106.6 yards per game, 3.8 yards per carry, 19 touchdown runs

Pro Bowl rusher: Joseph Addai

On average (2001-2007):

Patriots:

17.7th in rushing offense, 110.61 yards per game, 3.8 yards per carry, 14.4 touchdown runs per season

1 Pro Bowl rusher

Colts:

17th in rushing offense, 109.33 yards per game, 3.95 yards per carry, 15.4 touchdown runs per season

3 Pro Bowl rushers

So, the supposedly superior running game was on average ranked lower, had only 1 more yard per game over 7 seasons, had a lower rushing average, and had 1 fewer touchdown run per season. The supposedly superior running game was the lower ranked attack 4 out of the 7 seasons, with 3 finishes in the bottom 10 in the league, while the supposedly inferior running game ranked in the bottom 10 just once in the same 7 seasons. The supposedly superior running game ranked in the top 10 in the NFL just once, 7th in 2004. The supposedly inferior running game likewise ranked in the top 10 in the NFL once, 7th in 2001.

Well, to the very heart of the argument: did the Patriots' running game carry its share of the weight in the 3 championship seasons? Well, in 2001 the Patriots' running game was in the middle of the pack, ranked 13th. That's not horrible, but I wouldn't call it good enough to carry a team, and it was ranked lower than the 2001 Colts (7th). In 2003, the Patriots were 27th in rushing offense. This is the season I point to as the prime counterexample when people talk about superior rushing support. The Patriots averaged only 3.4 yards per carry. That is not a good running team. Once again, the Patriots were ranked lower than the Colts (19th) and won a Super Bowl. 2004 was the only of Brady's 3 Super Bowl seasons where the superior running game argument makes any sense. Their rushing offense was 7th in the league, and this was Brady's only season with a pro bowl running back behind him, but also notice that the Colts had more yards per carry and a pro bowl running back of their own in Edgerrin James.

So, the argument made against Brady is that he won championships with a better rushing attack even though the Colts had more yards per carry in all 3 of the Patriots' Super Bowl winning seasons and more yards per game in 2 of those seasons. Overall in Brady's seven seasons, Manning has had a running attack with more yards per carry, more touchdowns per season, and only one fewer yard per game than Brady has had. Manning has also had 3 pro bowl running backs supporting him compared to Brady's one. Hopefully the numbers will make it clear that Tom Brady has not had vastly superior rushing support to Peyton Manning. In fact, the Patriots' running game has actually been worse than the Colts' running game over the past few years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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