The NFL seems to be coming to an era where the days of 1 (or even 2) feature back (getting 20+ touches a game) is slowly being replaced by the offense that relies on several backs (each getting 5~15 touches a game). The top 6 scoring offenses in the NFL this season all used RBBC (running back by committee) systems without a true feature back on their roster. The Bengals are at a point where it’s probably time to let Ced go, and behind him they have B Leonard & B Scott, who each have good attributes, but neither of whom is a traditional feature back.
So the Bengals are at a point where a decision must be made.
Advantages of having 1 stud Feature back:
*You only need 1 guy to do everything (ala L McCoy, Jones-Drew, Steven Jackson, Chris Johnson, etc...)
*It’s easy when I’m a fan buying a jersey
*it’s much easier to draft a RB from that team for my fantasy football team
Advantages of having a multi-back system:
*Not so dependent on 1 guy to do everything so you’re better protected from injury to your RB
*Not so dependent on 1 guy to do everything so you’re in a better position as a team when free agency comes up
*You can utilize the key strengths of each RB in the aspects of the game where they excel (for example, the Saints use Sproles who is great at pass catching, Ingram who is very good at short yardage, Ivory for end runs, P Thomas for blitz pickup) and the sum of each guy specializing in his area of greatness can be better than 1 RB who is good at everything but not great at them, and is trying to do all of them.
*This evolution already took place in baseball (no longer are you burning out a starting pitcher who throws 9 inning games, but now you have middle relievers, setup men, left handed specialists, closers) although some teams were slow to adapt. It’s now taking place in football, although some teams are slow to adapt.
*It works – the top 6 NFL offenses this year all used RBBC setups of 3~4 guys running the ball for them (except San Diego who only used 2 RB’s).
Looking at the 2012 draft, guys like Lamar Miller & Trent Richardson are being listed as 1st round picks because they are the prototypical “complete” backs who are “feature” backs, who can run 20+ times a game and perform the various aspects of the RB position (run between tackles, speed, short yardage, blitz pickup, catch the ball). On the other hand, there are many other good RB’s who would work very well in RBBC systems.
Reading most of the posts on CJ it seems like the consensus is to use 1 pick on a DB, and the other on either a RB or O-Line. There are 2 diverging paths to go down: take a feature back but neglect the O-Line....or....get a non-feature back to put into a RBBC rotation but behind an improved O-Line.
With that in mind, the poll question is rather simple. What’s more important? Building the O-Line and using various RB’s that we get in middle to late rounds who can each fill various roles, and run behind that great O-Line?.....OR.....Draft a stud feature back and use stop-gap O-Linemen like McGlynn & Livings?