WDR continues with its analysis of 2008 personnel compared with 2007 personnel by position in an effort to determine whether we’ve done what it takes to return to the playoffs. This week, we tackle the messy situation at the running back position.
2007 Starting Tailback: Rudi Johnson
2007 Backup Tailbacks: Kenny Watson, Dede Dorsey with Kenny Irons on Injured Reserve and Chris Perry on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list
2008 Projected Starting Tailback: Rudi Johnson
2008 Projected Backup Tailbacks: Chris Perry, Kenny Watson with Kenny Irons on the PUP list to start the season
2008 Heartbreaking Cut: Dede Dorsey
Rudi Johnson struggled mightily in 2007, which was in large part due to a pulled hamstring. Last year, his statistics amounted to only 497 total yards in 11 games played with an average of just 2.9 yards per carry. His longest run of the season was only 22 yards. While Rudi was definitely affected by a pulled hamstring last year, he did struggle a bit in the 2006 season as well. After averaging 4.5, 4.0 and 4.3 yards per carry 2003, 2004 and 2005, respectively, Rudi averaged only 3.8 yards per carry in 2006 and his longest run that year was just 21 yards. To top it off, Rudi developed a fumbling problem in 2006 with 6 on the year, as well as 3 in 2007 where he carried the ball about half the amount of times as in each of the previous three seasons. Rudi is healthy now and back on the field. His ability to be return to form will be an important factor in re-establishing the running game. However, he shouldn’t have to do it on his own. In a league where the running back by committee approach is being used by the majority of NFL teams, one (and preferably more) backs will also need to step up.