Offensive line

Once again Okielou has written a guest piece for WhoDatWarriors, this time he delves a bit into the running game past and present, Lou makes some very valid points, we hope you enjoy.

The Unsung Heroes of the NLF is the offensive line.  Without them, the running game does not exist.  We should expect the running game to improve as the New Orleans Saints offensive line is expected to be very good this year.

OJ Simpson regardless of what some feel about him with all of his escapades after his football career, was considered one of the best NFL running backs when he was with the Buffalo Bills from 1969 to 1976. His best years were from 1972 through 1977.

OJ Simpson ran for a career best 11,236 yards. A record at that time. He was the first running back to reach the 2,000 yard mark in a single season. He finished out his career with the San Francisco 49ers 1978 through 1979

OJ Simpson
ERIC DICKERSON Los Angeles Rams 1983 to 1987

Eric Dickerson ran for a career best 13,259. Erick Dickerson had a very promising career with the LA Rams going until he got into a somewhat of a power struggle with Rams Coach John Robinson. Coach Robinson wanted him to do things his way and Eric Dickerson wanted to do things his way.

Coach John Robinson was head coach at USC before he became the Rams head coach, and he used the expression student body left or student body right when making his offensive calls. He also held the GM job. Eric Dickerson told the coach that if he thought he could run student body left or student body right any better than Dickerson could run it–then to go do it himself.

Eric Dickerson was traded to the Indianapolis Colts a very short time latter. He played out his career with the Colts, with not near the success he had with the Rams. He was the fastest player to reach 10,000 yards. He reached that goal in 91 games. He still holds the record for most yards in a season set in 1984–2,105 yards.

Dickerson
EMMITT SMITH Dallas Cowboys 1990 through 2002

Emmitt Smith up to this point has probably had the best career of any running back. Emmitt Smith ran for a remarkable career best 18,355 yards

What can be said about Emmitt Smith? 12 years as a running back with the same team is almost unheard of. He was a running back with great class.  Even when he was in a contract dispute with the Cowboys, there was not any trash throwing from either side.

Emmitt became a free agent at the end of 2002, signed with the Arizona Cardinals and finished out his illustrious career at the end of the 2004 season.

Emmitt  Smith

ADRIAN PETERSON Minnesota Vikings 2007 to present

If there is one running back that has a chance to break all running back records it could be Adrian Peterson. This will be his 8th year with the Vikings and has yet to have a bad year, unless you want to call 2011 a bad year. He only ran for 970 yards in an injury year. He has eclipsed the 1,000 yard every year except that one year.

In 2012 he ran for 2097 yards, coming within 8 yards of Eric Dickerson’s record. I have to give credit to Eric Dickerson, he was pulling for Adrian to break the record (in public anyway). I don’t know what his feelings were on the inside though.

AP

Two of these Great running backs are in the Hall of Fame Erick Dickerson and Emmit Smith.

Adrian Peterson is a shoe in and just has to finish out his career and wait his time. First round ballot I would say.

OJ Simpson blew his chance for obvious reasons. No explanation necessary. Every one of the running backs praised their offensive line.

OJ Simpson took his offensive line to dinner at least once a week to show is gratitude.

Emmit Smith praised his offensive line and called out Daryl (Moose) Johnson when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame and stated “I would not be here on this stage today if it weren’t for you.” He was very emotional when he said it. I’m sure you all remember it.

There a number of great running backs I could have written about. There have been some great ones. And all that I have written about these great running backs, leads to the next question.

What is the second thing these Great Running Backs have in common? They all had/have great offensive lines!

I had to try to write about these great backs to express the importance of an offensive line. The Unsung Heroes of all football has to be the Offensive line–from Pop Warner to the NFL.

In writing this article, I looked everywhere for personal stats on offensive line men. From tackle to tackle I could not find any. They may be out there I can’t find them. The only position I could find any personal stats on was the TE, but even they did not have any blocking stats.

I don’t see any stats on how many times an offensive lineman made a big hole for a running back to run through, or how many times he kept the quarterback from being sacked. There are all kinds of personal defensive line stats. No personal offensive linemen stats.

There are two positions on a football team that depend on what the offensive line does–running back and quarterback. If the offensive line does not do it job properly the whole play is usually a bust. I even might go as far as to say the running back depends more on the offensive line than the quarterback when it is a running play. We all have seen Drew Brees move a half step side ways or forward to elude an incoming defensive player.

The running back can change his running route to a certain degree; but usually by the time he changes his route because a hole didn’t open, it is too late–the defense is already in the back field.

We’ve seen Reggie Bush dance, and it usually didn’t work.

We have seen in 2009 what a good offensive line can do for the running game in our run to the Super Bowl. A combined 1,984 rushing yards–not too bad of a season for the running game.

In my arguments about some about our running backs, it was not my intent to try to build our running backs up. Everyone is disappointed in the production of Mark Ingram since the Saints traded up to get him, we all had high expectations. Due to various reasons it has not panned out in his first three years, and fans are getting edgy to say the least. We can blame injuries, but that is not a fault. It is a problem but not a fault.

If a player is injury prone then it is up to the team to go another direction with that player. Ingram does have talent regardless of what some may think. My only argument is we should  give him a fair shake. If he is healthy this year ( the offensive line most think will be really good this year) I expect a 2009-type running game from our running backs. It will be combined yards, not just a single running back doing it all, The offensive line is the most important part of a running game.

So if some of the naysayer’s will just give our running backs and the offensive line a chance to work together, I think we all will have a great surprise.