I don’t really agree with the idea of having a 1A and a 1B back, mostly because when I watched Matt LaFleur try to do it last year it just killed any kind of momentum the team had.
Instead of being complimentary pieces to one another, it felt as though the Tennessee Titans felt like they needed to force reps to one guy over another to make the stat sheet look even. If that is what a co-starting back in the NFL looks like then we need to move away from that quickly.
However, with a new year comes a new OC (or at least that is what happens in Tennessee anyway) and maybe Arthur Smith will use these backs as true complimentary pieces. Having two guys that you scheme into successful situations without tipping your hand to the opponent, seems like a great thing on paper.
So, what running backs seem like they could handle a 15-20 touch per game load without limiting the offense?
Just like last time, one name sticks out like a sore thumb and that is Adrian Peterson. In case you weren’t following the future Hall of Fame running back was 12th in total yards from scrimmage for RBs and finished 8th in rushing yards.
Peterson is ageless if you use him correctly and he looked every bit the star he was billed as a few years ago when he made the move to New Orleans. If he wants to come back, I would imagine that he wouldn’t be as cheap as he was last year, but hopefully he will be every bit as motivated.
For the past two years, T.J. Yeldon has been the Jacksonville Jaguars best running back despite the narrative anyone tries to force down your throat. Look at the comparison between Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon:
Fournette: 401 rushes, 1,479 yards (3.6 YPC)
Yeldon: 153 rushes, 667 yards (4.35 YPC)
The only difference is that instead of trying to use Yeldon more, they continue to give volume to Fournette and put more pressure on their bad QBs…for some reason.
Anyway, the point is that Yeldon has been excelling as one of those low-volume backups and boosting him up to 12 rushes or so per game at his current rate would turn him into an 800+ yard rusher.
I would be all for giving him that kind of role in Tennessee, not to mention Derrick Henry and Yeldon know how to work together after two years of sharing a backfield at Alabama for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
If not for another injury, Jay Ajayi was on track to once again top the 1,000 yard mark in yards from scrimmage despite averaging just 10 rushes and 1 catch per game. Ajayi isn’t necessarily explosive and he isn’t a running back you can build around given his injuries, but if you can keep him on the field as a player that can spell your starter, he can be a huge asset.
There is no way Tevin Coleman takes another backup job in the NFL, right? I mean the guy has gotten better every year and it feels like some team is going to back up a Brinks truck (or whatever the equivalent is for running backs) for a guy who averages 9 touchdowns per year as a backup.
If there was a way for the Tennessee Titans to land him, I feel like the offense would really take off with a guy like Coleman who is averaged nearly 70 yards from scrimmage per game despite only getting 12 touches per contest as a backup.
Those four are the guys that I think the Tennessee Titans would be luckiest to land. However there is one more player left to talk about and I think we all know who that is…