Blog Entry

2,000 Yard Rushers

Posted on: August 8, 2010 10:21 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2010 12:01 pm
There have been only six NFL running backs to eclipt the 2,000 yard mark rushing, and I will explain to you what I think is the best rushers to do so. It's not a career thing, it's a single season thing. These are the best 2,000 yard seasons in my opinion.
WARNING: This may offend you...Barry Sanders fans.
1. Terrell Davis, Denver Broncos, is the best 2,000 yard rusher I have ever seen and in my heart, is the best RB I have ever seen play the game. There was a great reason why John Elway didn't win a title until his last two seasons, and that reason was Terrell Davis. Davis punished defenders in every facet of the game. He would juke you and if the defender didn't buy the juke, he would bull doze his way through. Many will say that Mike Shanahan's zone blcoking scheme had many RBs gain over 1,000 yards, but the fact was Shanahan could never find another like Davis who destroyed opponents. Davis may not have had that flashy TD score, but he did what football die hards appreciate the most...he mad the trenches even more painful for defenses. Elway rarely had to deal with a long situation because it was a guarantee that Davis was going to win yards with just his effort.
2. Eric Dickerson, Los Angeles Rams- Dickerson led a team with absolutely nothing to the playoffs and played in a close game, lost 10-7 to the NY Giants. He had Jeff Kemp for a QB and his leading WR had 34 catches for the entire season. Yet, Dickerson was able to earn over 2,000 yards. If there is any RB in the history of the NFL who had nothing, it was Eric Dickerson, and he shattered a record in the process. Dickerson did gain over 120 yards in the Rams defeat in the playoffs.
3. Jamal Lewis, Baltimore Ravens- Lewis came into the NFL and helped a bad offensive team win a super bowl. His 2,000 yard season didn't happen until a couple of years after the super bowl run. Everybody remembers that Trent Dilfer was the QB for the Ravens when they won a super bowl. What people refuse to remember is that Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright were the Ravens QBs during Jamal Lewis' phenomenal season over 2,000 yards. It did help playing the Browns twice during that season, but a division title is a division title. Lewis' only help was TE Todd Heap who led the team in receptions with 57 receptions. Who was their best WR? Travis Taylor. Need I say more?
4. OJ Simpson, Buffalo Bills- Simpson had his single season rushing yars records broken, but I think he is secure to never have his yards per game average broken. Simpson averaged 143 yards per game in his then NFL record season. He only played 14 games which was the standard in the NFL during his era. Dickerson broke his record but at fewer yards per game due to the elongated season. Simpson's Bills had a respectable 9-5 record, but back in his days, it wasn't good enough to make the playoffs. Simpson didn't have any help at all either when it came to receivers taking the pressure off the running back. The leading WR for the Bills had 30 receptions in his record year. OJ may be hated for reasons off the football field, understandably so, but the fact remains he was one of the best in the NFL at running the ball.
5. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans- Sanders fans have to be stewing by now, but let me make my last few points. Chris Johnson, the only player to rush for than 2,000 yards whose team didn't make the playoffs in the modern era, was the only focus of the Tennessee Titans. Johnson, like others on this list had no help. His biggest fault is that his team dedicated the end of their season to helping him get over 2,000 yards. Their goal was to break the record and they fell short. The Titans had the worst record out of all the 2,000 yard rushers, but when you look at their roster, it was of no surprise. What makes Johnson's season great is that he was only in his second season and he also shatter Marshal Faulk's single season record for total yards. What that means is that not only was Johnson a threat with the ball out of the backfield, he was a threat catching the ball as well. Johnson had to deal with a QB change as well as having nothing for WRs to take the pressure off of him.
6. Barry Sanders, Detroit Lions- In my opinion, Barry Sanders' 2,000 yard season was the least important out of all of the RBs who conquered the feat. Sanders proved that age was not a factor in the record as he was 29 years old when he gained over 2,000 yards. However, Sanders greatness during the season did not translate into the playoffs. His amazing 6.1 yards a carry was almost cut in half in the playoffs versus the Buccaneers, the same team he burnt during the season for 215 yards. 18 carries for 65 yards does not cut it for a 2,000 yard rusher, and I don't care who the defense is. People can argue that Sanders' QB was ineffective, Scott Mitchell- 79 QB rating, but he had studs for WRs, Herman Moore and Johnnie Morton. Moore had 104 receptions and Morton had 80.
Terrell Davis is the only RB to gain over 2,000 yards and win a super bowl. Many want to claim he was just part of a great system, but I think he was the the reason why the system became great. Part of the greatness for a running back is making every yard count. Every time the QB gives you the ball, make it count. Part of making it count is by reading holes and not losing yards that can easily change the flow of the drive. Davis exemplified making every yard count. He refused to lose yardage and when the QB gave him the ball, it would be at worst, a different down with the same amount of yardage to go. Maybe it's his very short career or even the hype of John Elway, Elway deserves the hype, but Davis is lost in  the argument for greatest RBs of all time. Obviously, a bad RB doesn't get 2,000 yards. It's an elite class of its own. In my opinion, Terrell Davis leads that elite class. My argument for him other than that will continue...

Since: Dec 9, 2006
Posted on: August 10, 2010 2:40 pm

2,000 Yard Rushers

O.J. Simpson is clearly the standard because he did this 2000 yds. while playing only 14 regular season games.  So he should be #1 with an asterik and then you can rank the others.

After clearly facilitating that fact, you can then go ahead and rank Terrell Davis,Barry Sanders, Eric Dickerson, Chris Johnson and Jamal Lewis.

The fact is this;  even though O.J. is a murdering degenerate, his is still the most impressive season, period.

Since: May 29, 2008
Posted on: August 10, 2010 2:08 pm

2,000 Yard Rushers

Sanders had no O-Line???  Thats an insult to every guy that ever blocked for him.  You CANNOT gain 2000 yards with NO O-Line period.  The fact of the matter is that Sanders may be the most OVERrated player in the history of the NFL not named Marino!  The guys had NEGATIVE yards rushing in a PLAYOFF game once (Yes thats LESS yards than I had, and I didnt get a carry!)  His playoff record may be even worse than Marino's (if possible) and his playoff numbers are about half of what his regular season numbers are!  1700 yards in a season with TWO TDS??!!!  How is that even possible.  This guy was half the back that the true lion heart of the era-- Emmitt Smith was.  If I am casting the NFLs version of The Wizrad of Oz- I have Marino as the Tin Man (if I only had a heart) and Sanders as the Cowardly Lion.

Since: May 29, 2008
Posted on: August 10, 2010 2:01 pm

2,000 Yard Rushers

Shocking!!  A guy from Detroit loves Sanders.  Maybe THE most overated NFL Player ever (this side of Marino)!!  The guy had NEGATIVE yards rushing in a playoff game once against GB!  (Are you KIDDING ME!)  Nice playoff record too.  Quit on his team in the "prime" of his career because he didnt like the coach??!!  If I am casting for the NFL's version of the Wizard of OZ Marino is the Tin Man and Sanders is "the cowardly lion"!

Since: Sep 12, 2007
Posted on: August 10, 2010 12:53 pm

2,000 Yard Rushers

I have never seen this debate approached that way.  Well done.

Since: Jul 8, 2007
Posted on: August 10, 2010 11:28 am

2,000 Yard Rushers

Chris Johnson broke the yards from scrimmage record. I don't for the life of me see how Lewis's seasonw as better than Johnson's.

Since: Aug 13, 2007
Posted on: August 10, 2010 9:40 am

2,000 Yard Rushers

I came to this blog expecting to be disappointed in the ranking of Terrell Davis's 2,000 yard season. How wrong I was. Not only was Mr. Davis ranked correctly but I was pleased to see that somebody else believes that Barry Sanders was over-rated. Fans who criticize the o-line Sanders had know nothing about football other than what they see on the highlights. A great point was made that the Lions o-line would have preferred any of the other backs to block for. When the Broncos called a play Terrell Davis hit that hole every time. Sanders? maybe maybe not. Sanders running style was not conducive to winning football games. Davis' 2,000 yd season came when the Broncos were defending champs and he had a bullseye on his back as defending Super Bowl MVP. He also sat out at least 3 second halfs when the Broncos had big leads.

Since: Jan 23, 2008
Posted on: August 10, 2010 6:58 am

2,000 Yard Rushers

I would like to see any of those other five guys get 2,000 yards with Barry's offensive line..

I bet those linemen would have all rather had any of those other 5 guys behind them.  Guys who they could count on knowing which direction they were running.  If you think the play is going left, block the guy to the right, and suddenly the back is heading right...yeah, you look pretty bad pushing the defender right to the back.  It's the linemen's fault they didn't have eyes in the back of their head apparently.  That same terrible line is the one that allowed Scott Mitchell to throw for over 4000 yards in 1995.  Crappy Scott Mitchell!  A guy with a 75.3 career rating.  I'd like to see how much worse those other five lines would have looked with Sanders behind them. 

Since: Oct 30, 2006
Posted on: August 10, 2010 6:42 am

2,000 Yard Rushers

I love the "Barry Sanders had no offensive line" argument. Obviously, people who say that didn't watch football. Did you guys know this? Every year Barry Sanders made the pro bowl, at least one Lions offensive linemen made the pro bowl as well, except for his last year. Emmit Smith's first two pro bowl years did not include a Cowboys offensive linemen. Lomas Brown, Lions LT, was one of the best tackles to play the game.
Barry Sanders refused to play with a fullback. A big reason for that was the fact that Sanders was an East-West running back. Emmitt and other North-South running backs made their money reading even the smallest holes quickly. The Lions pulled Sanders in goal line situations because of his running style.
I must admit, I am very biased. I enjoy smash mouth football moreso than finesse style football. I enjoy the stiff arm more than the spin move. The top five RBs I named were smash mouth RBs while Sanders was the finesse player. Sanders will probably be the only finesse style running back to have success in the NFL. That said, I don't think the finesse style RB could be part of a championship team. The Saints last year won the title after they found smash mouth RBs like Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell to compliment Reggie Bush's finesse style running attack. How many teams have won a super bowl with a finesse style RB?
Again, if I could have any RB to play in their prime for my team, I would have to go with Terrell Davis. John Elway would have never won a super bowl without Davis.

Since: Jan 1, 2009
Posted on: August 10, 2010 3:59 am

2,000 Yard Rushers

Its wierd that someone other then me brought up Davis from the Broncos this week. Doyel wrote a piece on Sanders being the best running back in the game. I was put on blast by very many people. Some saying i must of never seen Sanders play.I did my arguement was to say beast of all time is hard to lable. You cant put offence vs defence. I said may make a case for a position. I was also told to put davis in company with Sanders was an insult!

So I wonder how many of those people watched davis. Plus The rings Eway got when he arrived .Davis was A huge part of that.Elayway has been there befor bur never won without Davis. I tryed to show that if Davis didnt get the injury he could of been the one we all talk about.T he reason he isnt brought up much is because he played many years ago and didnt have a long ride in the N.F.L. The time he had what else could you ask for 2000 plus yards club .A couple of rings. Maybe one day he might hit a longshot hall of fame bid. He did so much in little time. Some take their entire careers to get a ring. then alot team jump try try and get a freebie. Plus to have break out seasons and hit the numbers he did.Only A few backs have decent yards these days.The reason is so many teams went to the passing game.

I Liked your piece! I Hope That you get better responses then I did. Good job!! 

Since: Jul 11, 2010
Posted on: August 10, 2010 3:06 am

2,000 Yard Rushers

The ranking should go Dickerson, Simpson, Sanders, Lewis, Davis, Johnson. Yes, sanders did have the aid of a solid receiving core however, the glaring mistake you made in your analysis is that the most important aspect of having an effective rushing game is having a good o-line, something sanders did not have; the yards were more his than those earned by the other 5 candidates, I also believe it is fair to say that the success of moore and morton that year is significantly due to barry's presence in the backfield. With respect to the defenses the runners had to face, barry, lewis, and simpson had the hardest conferences by far, thats half the season facing the likes of the packers, bears, vikings, steelers (obviously the bengals and browns sucked), patriots, jets, and dolphins, whereas johnson and davis faced teams like the colts, texans, jaguars, chargers, chiefs, and raiders. O.J. and lewis had great o-lines, TD's was probably the best or 2nd best, and johnson and dickerson's were solid as well. One other note, simpson was the first rusher to have over 2000 yards on the ground, that counts for something, and he did it, as was stated, in 2 fewer games than anyone else. 

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