NFL Free Agency:What The Offseason Did To The Running-Back-By-Comittee Offense
A few seasons ago, teams in the NFL started having two or three reliable running backs who could take a hand-off and move downfield.
The overwhelming success of duos such as Peterson/Taylor, Johnson/White, Tomlinson/Sproles, and Carolina's Williams/Stewart led to this trend and sent teams looking for deep backfields.
However, with a handful of running back trades and releases this offseason, the committees from the past few seasons may no longer find the same success.
The Vikings lost Chester Taylor, who signed with the Bears. AP will probably get the majority of the carries, but there is still the chance of rookie Toby Gearhart taking Taylor's spot and getting a fair share of the workload.
The Titans owed much of their successful 2008 campaign to their run game consisting of then-rookie speedster Chris Johnson working the outside holes and bruiser LenDale White getting the ball near the end zone.
After White didn't contribute as much in 2009, the Titans traded White to the Seahawks where he could've fit into their running scheme, but he was eventually released by the team.
The Titans do still have Javon Ringer, but his running style is more similar to what the team already has in Johnson.
Rookies LeGarrette Blount and Staffon Johnson would be more suitable to replace the inside run game provided by White, but they would have to develop a little quicker if they want to get in on the action this season.
However, rumors have been flying around that Jeff Fisher may reduce Johnson's workload in 2010, which could pave the way for these younger backs to step up and contribute.
The Chargers drafted Ryan Matthews out of Fresno State, and he very well could fill the gap left after Tomlinson's release.
Tomlinson went on to sign with the Jets and will try to find a role in their run offense, which led the league in 2009.
The space for Tomlinson was created after the Jets released Thomas Jones, which was done because the team had decided to rely on Shonn Greene.
Even though it's only been three years since Tomlinson was named the league's MVP, those three seasons have been relatively unproductive and injury filled for Tomlinson.
Tomlinson's vulnerability to injury and the fact that he's now 30 may damper his production for the Jets.
The Jets did end up signing rookie Joe McKnight out of USC, who could complement Greene and Tomlinson and replace Jones.
When Jones signed with Kansas City after his release, he got himself into another committee scenario since Jamaal Charles had a very successful stint in 2010 after the team got rid of Larry Johnson.
Another committee that was turned upside down this offseason was that of the Buffalo Bills, whose backfield was actually one of the few good parts of the team.
Fred Jackson took the starting spot in week 10 from Marshawn Lynch, who had faced disciplinary action from the league and didn't rack up many yards.
After Jackson's success, the team drafted Clemson's CJ Spiller. The action probably means one of two things: Lynch is on his way out of Buffalo, or Spiller will have to share carries with the two other backs.
The situation in Buffalo is one that is happening to many teams throughout the league, but is just a matter of how teams are deciding to run their offenses.
After the offseason's trades and releases broke up some of the once successful running back corps, it will be interesting to see how they fare in 2010.
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