The Two-Back System Is Here to Stay

Scott BarbineCorrespondent IDecember 2, 2008

We've seen the craze developing in the NFL for the past few years now. Teams are straying from that workhorse running back to a backfield-by-committee. 

It's been very effective.

About 20 of the 32 NFL teams use multiple running backs rather than depending on one guy to carry the workload.

Many teams have perfected the backfield-by-committee technique and have based their offenses around them. 

Other teams are developing the use of multiple backs or now just beginning to get away from the workhorse back.

The Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers, and Minnesota Vikings have all learned how to use their multiple running backs effectively; it doesn't look like they are turning back any time soon.

Many critics raised eyebrows when the Titans drafted a running back in one of the first two rounds three years in a row, but it looks like a good idea now. The "Smash and Dash" combination of LenDale White and rookie Chris Johnson has been one of the top running duos this year. With both backs just 23 years old, it looks like they will be wreaking havoc across the NFL for years to come.

"Earth, Wind, and Fire" is the nickname given to the Giants trio of backs, Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Derrick Ward. The backfield triumvirate of the Giants has been unstoppable all season long, even gaining over 200 yards rushing against the stout Ravens defense. 

Having an Army tank in Brandon Jacobs to wear down the defense, the Giants then send out Bradshaw and Ward to run right past the fatigued opponents.

The New York Jets combination of Thomas Jones and Leon Washington has been just as effective as any ground game in the league. Jones pounds on opposing defenses while Washington runs right past them.


The workhorse back is dying in the NFL. We no longer see teams riding one guy like we did earlier in the decade with guys like Priest Holmes, Marshall Faulk, Eddie George, Curtis Martin, Emmit Smith, and Jerome Bettis.

The teams that rely on one guy today have been struggling with their running games and offenses in general.

Ladainian Tomlinson has fallen off in a big way this year. Fans are calling for more touches from backup Darren Sproles to give LT some rest.

The Browns ran Jamal Lewis into the ground last year and he is showing negative effects this year. Jason Wright and Jerome Harrison have been getting more touches lately and have made the Cleveland offense more effective.

With teams utilizing multiple running backs, is the dawn of the quarterback-by-committee coming soon?