Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Week 12 Wrap

LaDainian Tomlinson, famously modest by modern NFL standards, barely celebrates his touchdowns. But he scores them at an unprecedented clip and two weeks ago Tomlinson, who has 21 TDs in his last seven games, entered the NFL record books with his 100th touchdown in his 88th game, breaking the fastest-to-hundred mark of 93 shared by Emmitt Smith and Jim Brown.

That touchdown figure doesn't include the five touchdown passes Tomlinson has thrown in the last two years. Continuing his end zone efficiency, it only took LT seven attempts to net those touchdowns -- a feat that calls into question why more teams that run sweeps don't employ the halfback option.

More than just a touchdown machine, Tomlinson has been close to the league lead in rushing yardage and receptions by a running back in each of his six years. Because of these accomplishments Tomlinson's name has been added to the greatest running back of all-time debate.

LT is 27 this year. 26 or 27 tends to be the statistical peak for running backs: Brown, Smith, Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James, Tony Dorsett, Franco Harris, Marcus Allen and double-murderer OJ Simpson all had their best season at that age and then began steady, sometimes shift, declines. Walter Payton and Barry Sanders are the two notable exceptions, peaking later in their twenties. The mid-twenties decline of Hall of Famers' Eric Dickerson and Earl Campbell were such that their peak was also a cliff.

If LT is able to have four more fairly productive seasons it stands to reason he will enter the top five of all-time in rushing yards and could threaten Emmit Smith's rushing touchdown record. History shows LT has about a fifty/fifty chance of getting those four productive years.

Since I can't claim to have studied all the great running backs on film, I can only go by statistics and team accomplishments when determining the greatest. By that criteria the two running backs Tomlinson recently bumped from the record books stand a head above the rest. To catch Smith and Brown, Tomlinson would also have to add a Superbowl victory to his resume.

That's a tall order, even for a good young team like San Diego. Still, there should be no debate the quiet LT has, over the past month, snuck up on everyone to enter the all-time argument.

Picks: This is the week JT starts sneaking up on .500. 10-5-1 for the week, 73-81-5 for the year.

1 comment:

jdmain said...

Greatest Post Ever!