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Bengals First 50: James Brooks vs Corey Dillon

Did the “Bengals First 50” get it right, placing James Brooks ahead of Corey Dillon?

James Brooks

With the Bengals First 50 now revealed, we can look at who the voters ranked where, and ponder whether they got it right. Let’s take a look at the rating of James Brooks (#10) ahead of Corey Dillon (#14) among the best retired Bengals of all time, and debate whether the voters got it right.

Why James Brooks should be rated higher

Originally drafted by the Chargers in the first round of the 1981 NFL Draft, Brooks was unable to unseat the inestimable Chuck Muncie for the primary running back duties in San Diego, which led to the Chargers trading Brooks to the Bengals for Pete Johnson. For what it’s worth, Johnson only carried the ball 19 times for the Chargers, while Brooks provided the Bengals with over 10,000 percent more rushing attempts.

After joining the Bengals, Brooks spent eight seasons as the team’s running back, from 1984 to 1991. He holds the team running back records for the most total yards from scrimmage (9,459), total touchdowns (64), and games played (118). He also sported a very impressive 4.8 yards per carry average with the Bengals.

Brooks was an integral part of the Bengals’ 1988 Super Bowl team, and with four Pro Bowls it’s clear why he was the top rated running back in the Bengals First 50 ranking.

Why Corey Dillon should be rated higher

Unlike Brooks, Dillon was a true three-down running back who carried the Bengals’ offense on his back for seven seasons. His rushing numbers are unequaled in Bengals’ history. Dillon’s 8,061 rushing yards and 45 rushing touchdowns are both better than Brooks’ totals, as are his 89.2 total yards per game average. His 9,543 total yards from scrimmage is a mere 16 yards fewer than Brooks’ team record, but was accomplished in 11 fewer games.

Also to be considered is that while Brooks was running on teams with great offenses led by Boomer Esiason, and blocked for by Anthony Munoz and Max Montoya, Dillon was playing for some abysmal offenses with the likes of Akili Smith and David Klingler at quarterback. Despite this, Dillon set a single-game NFL record with 278 rushing yards against the Broncos in 2000, leading an 0-6 Bengals team to a 31-21 victory over a playoff-bound Broncos team. His individual performance, which included a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns, powered the Bengals to a victory despite the Bengals’ quarterbacks only completing two of 14 pass attempts for 34 yards.

Despite the bad teams that Dillon was saddled with, he still managed to get 4.3 yards per carry in his Bengals’ career. He also accumulated six consecutive seasons of at least 1,100 rushing yards (Brooks only did this once), and six consecutive seasons of at least 1,300 total yards (Brooks only did this 3 times). He also played in three Pro Bowls.

Dillon is the most complete running back in Bengals’ history, and his ability to produce great numbers on awful teams is a clear indication that he should have been to top rated running back in Bengals’ history.


Who should have been the top rated Bengals’ running back in the "First 50"?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    James Brooks
    (132 votes)
  • 59%
    Corey Dillon
    (194 votes)
326 votes total Vote Now