2008 Best Running Back 1-2 Punches
1. DeAngelo Williams & Jonathan Stewart
I am still somewhat stunned by the season DeAngelo produced. 1515 yards at 5.5 yards per carry and 20 TDs (18 rushing). I guess he responded to the challenge Carolina presented by drafting Jonathan Stewart with the 13th pick last year. Stewart wasn’t a slouch either with 836 yards at 4.5 ypc and 10 TDs. They are just the fourth RB duo to both surpass 10 TDs. They were instrumental in earning the Panters a first round bye.
2. Chris Johnson & LenDale White
Johnson and White almost joined the 10+ rushing TD group as White had 15 and Johnson had 9. Johnson did add one through the air to give him ten total TDs though. Johnson was the big play guy with 1228 yards on a 4.9 ypc, while White was the punisher with 773 yards at a 3.9 clip. The rushing game helped propel the Titans to the #1 seed in the AFC.
3. Brandon Jacobs & Derrick Ward
The only RB combo to each reach 1000 yards. Jacobs was a bull with 1089 yards at 5.0 ypc and 15 TDs. Ward was more than capable spelling and filling in for Jacobs with 1025 yards at 5.6 ypg with 2 TDs. He added 384 yards through the air. Even third-stringer Ahmad Bradshaw was successful with 355 yards at 5.3 ypc. Although Eli had a fine season, it was the rushing attack that gave New York their identity.
4. Adrian Peterson & Chester Taylor
It helps having the NFL’s leading rusher in this duo, but Chester Taylor was quite capable as well. Peterson had 1760 yards at 4.8 ypc and 10 TDs. Taylor had 798 total yards, equally split on the ground and through the air. He averaged 4.0 ypc and has six TDs (four rushing). Peterson often made the big play while Chester would make a key play to help the Vikings win the NFC North.
5. Michael Turner & Jerious Norwood
Like Minnesota, this duo is elevated mainly because of their lead back. Michael Turner was simply amazing. Turner rolled to 1699 yards at 4.5 ypc and 17 TDs. Early on he dominated bad teams and was mediocre against good ones. That inconsistenty cost him the rushing title, but he righted that ship by scoring in seven of his last eight games. He started (220 yards vs. Detroit) and finished (208 yards vs. St. Louis) the season with a bang. Norwood doesn’t stack up to the other backs in this group, but he did manage 827 yards and 6 TDs (489 & rushing). His 5.1 ypc didn’t match the 6.4 & 6.0 from his two prior years, but it’s still a pretty good number. They helped make life easier for Matt Ryan as Atlanta made its way back to the playoffs.
6. LaDainian Tomlinson & Darren Sproles
LT wasn’t quite himself this year, but he did manage 1536 total yards and 12 TDs (1110 & 11 rushing). His 3.8 ypc wasn’t great, but Norv Turner didn’t exactly let LT wear teams down like usual. Sproles was more effective catching the ball (342 yards and 5 TDs to 330 & 1), but he did average 5.4 ypc. Not bad considering the Chargers were fairly pass happy this year. They did sneak into the playoffs.
7. Thomas Jones & Leon Washington
Thomas Jones also had a great season. He ran for 1312 yards at 4.5 ypc with 13 TDs, with and additional 207 & 2 through the air. Leon Washington simply made big plays. He had 803 yards (448 rushing) and 9 TDs (6 rushing, 2 receiving & 1 KR). Leon averaged 5.9 ypc. Had they leaned on this duo a little more than Brett’s shaky arm, perhaps the Jets would have been in the playoffs.
8. Ronnie Brown & Ricky Williams
This duo was easily the most surprising as Ronnie was coming off a major knee injury and Ricky was trying to overcoming injuries and suspensions. Ronnie had 916 yards at 4.3 ypc with 10 TDs. Ricky had 659 yards at 4.1 ypc with 4 TDs. They each had over 200 receiving yards (Ronnie – 254 & Ricky – 219). They helped turn the Dolphins 1-15 season to a 11-5 AFC East winning one.
Honorable Mention: Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush & Deuce McAllister; Maurice Jones-Drew & Fred Taylor; Joseph Addai & Dominic Rhodes; Marshawn Lynch & Fred Jackson; Le’Ron McClain & Willis McGahee