In the NFL world of free agents and finding just the right guy at just the right time, it is never right to presume that a team has made the wrong choice by letting one player leave and then signing someone who seems very similar, or even lower in value. We as the fans though do have the right, and even the responsibility, to question some of the moves that are made by management.
So let us compare two very good NFL running backs.
Both of these running backs have been in the league for nine years. During their tenure though, they have had very different roles. Back “A” has been a workhorse for the past eight years while back “B” has only been a featured back for the past five seasons. We will call back “A” John and back “B” Paul.
John has nearly 2,400 carries on his knees. He has carried the ball at least 237 times every season for the past eight and has three seasons with at least 325 carries. He has over 10,000 rushing yards and over 300 receiving yards in his career, but only has 64 scores. His average total yards per season for the eight years as a full time starter were around 1,570 yards per season.
Paul has 1,640 carries on his knees, only about 2/3 the total that John has. Paul has only three seasons with over 225 carries, although all three were over 300. During his nine years he has over 7,300 rushing yards but only 530 receiving yards. He has scored 67 total touchdowns. When you look only at his five years as a starter though, he has averaged 1308 yards per season.
So John has more yards per season while Paul has a number of carries fewer on his knees. But let’s look at some big differences:
John has averaged only 7.5 TDs per season as a starter while Paul has averaged over 12 TDs per season as a starter! John has averaged 4.19 yards per carry as a starter while Paul is at 4.30. And While John is built to take a hit at 6’ 2” and 240 pounds, Paul is even more of a wrecking ball, four inches shorter and another 10 pounds heavier.
Both backs have solid stats. Both would be an asset to either team. But in the end I think I’d rather have the guy with 800 fewer carries on his knees who was averaging .11 yards per carry more in his career an a full 4.5 scores per season.
If you hadn’t figured it out yet, John is former Rams and current Falcons running back Steven Jackson and Paul is former Falcons back Michael Turner.
So why in the world did the Falcons part ways with Turner just to go out and sign someone with more carries and worse career stats that isn’t any less of an injury risk than their current back?
That is not a question I have an answer to. Maybe you can help me out in the comments section below.