HoosierCat Posted July 2, 2012 Report Share Posted July 2, 2012 Part of a preview of their annual almanac. They do all 4 AFCN teams at the link.Bengals Top Five Running Backs1. James BrooksBrooks was a 180-pound change-up back who was lucky enough to be on the Bengals when Sam Wyche arrived and opened up their offense. Even in Don Coryell’s Chargers system, Brooks was relegated to the traditional scatback role: kick returns, pitches, screens, and draw plays, with Chuck Muncie taking more of the traditional work. It took Wyche’s iteration of the West Coast Offense to open things up to the point that a little speedster could consistently have a 250-touch per season offensive role.Brooks and Thurman Thomas were similar in many ways: dangerous runner-receivers in offenses that were revolutionizing concepts like the no-huddle attack. Thomas was better, of course, but not by an incredible amount.2. Corey DillonRicky Watters in reverse. Watters won a Super Bowl with a great performance for a great team that could probably have won without him, then went on to a long career of racking up tons of yards while being a pain in the butt to his coaches on other teams. Dillon racked up a lot of yards while being a pain in the butt to his coaches, then won a Super Bowl with a great performance for a great team that could probably have won without him.Watters has a quiet Hall of Fame drumbeat rattling around the football universe. Dillon will need a ticket to get in. Their careers are really not that different. Dillon gets this high because he did not split his productive work among three teams, two of which had very solid lists. Also, he didn’t cause me as many angry memories.3. Pete JohnsonJohnson rushed for 64 Bengals touchdowns, 19 more than Dillon, who has a 3,000-yard edge on Johnson on the franchise leaderboard. The 252-pound Johnson had a reputation as a goal-line back and was used as a specialist late in his career. The goal-line back strategy does not appear to be productive in modern football, and we have spent years tracking the more-or-less random performances of players who "have a nose for the end zone" on short-yardage carries. Thirty years ago, when the game was more grinding, the situation was probably different: a guy like Johnson really could push a pile forward an extra yard.4. Rudi JohnsonDVOA liked Johnson at the start of his 2004-06 peak, when he cranked out 1,300-1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns every year. He went from 17th to fifth in the league in a stat that, as you well know, can be unkind to a back who is asked to soak up low-percentage carries up the middle. In 2006, he dipped to 24th and fell below average, mostly because his Success Rate dropped. Johnson had little big-play ability or receiving value, so his ability to crank out three-to-six yards per rush was his only calling card. For a few seasons, he was able to make a living off of it. If he played in the 1970s, he would have been the fullback in a two-back system, gained about 700 yards per year, and been productive for the whole decade.5. Essex JohnsonJohnson was a proto-West Coast Offense running back who teamed with Boobie Clark and others in the early Ken Anderson backfields. He was a productive all-purpose back from 1971-73, catching 25-30 passes in his best seasons while rushing for 800-900 yards in a Dead Ball era. But really, I wanted to end this list with three straight Johnsons.Ickey Woods had exactly one good year, joining Greg Cook on the Bengals’ Lovable One Year Wonder All Stars. The Bengals have a long history of drafting truly great college running backs and watching them churn through injury-plagued or disappointing careers: Charles Alexander, Archie Griffin, Ki-Jana Carter. Cedric Benson hammered out three hard working years that deserve mention. Boobie Clark was a 245-pound fullback who caught over 40 passes in his best seasons, a sign that the young Bill Walsh (working for Paul Brown) had some innovative ideas up his sleeve.Not sure I wouldn't reverse 1 and 2. Corey may have been a head case but he was special. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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