In the NFL, the running back is such a critical position. Running backs either ease the pressure off a quarterback, or put more pressure on them. There are many types of running backs. They are quick and small, shifty, or they could even be big running backs that can bruise defenders and get short yards. Each player has a unique style. For example, Ray Rice is a small running back with speed. Brandon Jacobs and Peyton Hillis are big bruising running backs, and Adrian Peterson and Darren McFadden has a rare style of running. Yet, in the NFL, there are always a few running backs who are not well mentioned. They tend to be underrated and not mentioned as great running backs. But there were 3 unique running backs that made a big impact on their teams. They were Rashard Mendenhall from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Fred Jackson from the Buffalo Bills, and Thomas Jones from the Kansas City Chiefs. Here are my reasons why:
Rashard Mendenhall has a very unique style as a player. In his first year, he broke his collarbone against the Ravens, was questioned for his work ethic, and put in the dog house by coach Mike Tomlin. Then, in the 2009 season, Mendenhall replaced Willie Parker as the starter and exploded. This running back has a strong gameplay to break tackles, make exclusive cuts, and find open holes. He wears down teams with his aggressive running style and is not much of a slashing running back. As people believe the Steelers defense is the reason as to why the Steelers got so deep into the playoffs, many people forgot about Mendehall’s running game. When Big Ben was out, Mendenhall carries the team, running for over 100 yards in the first 3 games. In addition, he carried the load and went above and beyond than what his teammates and people expected.
For Fred Jackson, he did not have a strong statistical season. He had to rotate the running back position with CJ Spiller and Marshawn Lynch. Eventually, it was just CJ Spiller he shared the carries with. Yet, for Fred Jackson, nobody understands his gameplay similar to a slower Marshall Faulk. When I mean that, I mean that Jackson can run the ball well and make cuts, and he can catch the ball in the backfield. The problem is, the Bills have not provided Jackson a chance to demonstrate that for a fully season for him to carry the load. He can break tackles and he is not an explosive, speedy running back. Yet, he can get the yards in long and short yard situations, he demonstrates the proper leadership. Jackson should get the majority of the carries next season and he will be a sleeper running back. Despite being almost 30 years old, there is very little wear and tear on this man.
Thomas Jones has been a beast since he came into this season. Originally the 7 th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, Jones did not have a great career with the Cardinals. He was then traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after 3 seasons with the Cardinals, and then exploded with the Chicago Bears. Since then, he has dominated in the running attack and helped teams create a 1-2 combination. With the Kansas City Chiefs, even though he didn’t have his usual dominate year and did not rush for over 1,000 yards, he still created big plays and made defenders very tired. Jones is a rare running back that can still produce over the age of 30. In fact, if he did have a majority of the carries for the Chiefs, he could have had at least a 1,300 yard, 12 touchdown season. Jones is a clear cut, run in the gut, exploding running back. He has that style of just going in the hole and breaking the tackles to run for a touchdown. Jones is even quiet for a running back, never known to run his mouth or even talk trash about his teammates. He keeps quiet and plays with his heart and soul.