Tag:Ronnie Brown
Posted on: August 21, 2010 11:31 am

The best fullback in football is...

Posted by Andy Benoit

Chances are, you’re familiar with the name Lousaka Polite. After all, it’s a very unique name for a football player. (And it’s one that is ripe for puns.) But, chances are, you actually know close to nothing about Lousaka Polite. That’s the way it goes with fullbacks these days. L. Polite (US Presswire)

In short, the soon-to-be 29-year-old Dolphin is the best lead-blocker in football right now. Polite, a converted linebacker, spent the first three years of his career as somewhat of a fringe player with the Cowboys. In 2008 he was part of the wave of Cowboy backups who followed Tony Sparano, Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland to Miami.

Last season is when Polite truly blossomed into one of the game’s hardest-hitting, most cerebral fullbacks. Besides paving the way for Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams in Miami’s fourth ranked rushing attack, Polite converted all 16 of his third/fourth-down-and-one rushing attempts. By season’s end, he was finally being recognized as an on-field leader and unheralded warrior.

ESPN’s Tim Graham wrote a feature on Polite this weekend:

"His role on the offense is very, very important," Sparano told Dolphins reporters this week. "Never mind what he does in some of the short-yardage situations. This guy is one of the people that you can really trust out there.

"Ricky and Ronnie would tell you they trust him because they know that he's going to help them get through the smoke. They just trust that the guy is going to be in the right place at the right time. ... As a football team you hope that you have more and more people that can trust each other like that group trusts Lousaka Polite."

Williams also appreciates that Polite can be so amenable. Williams explained a lot of fullbacks he has played with in the past can't diversify their approach, but Polite will cater to either Williams' or Brown's running styles.

"The way that I run, I like to get downhill as soon as possible," Williams said. "Some backs like to make people miss more. They trust and use their vision more.

"But the way I run, I say 'All you can do is get in the guy's way, Lou, because I'm going to be off your butt so fast you just need to get out of my way.' When I get the ball, there's never even a doubt in my mind he's going to be in the right place and that there's going to be a crease."

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Posted on: July 19, 2010 7:23 pm

Position rankings: running backs

Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit resume their debate, with today’s focus on running backs.

Andy Benoit's top five
C. Johnson (US Presswire)
5. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars

4. Ray Rice, Ravens

3. Steven Jackson, Rams

2. Adrian Peterson, Vikings

1. Chris Johnson, Titans

Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice are both undersized but super powerful runners with breakaway speed. Both are dynamic in the open field. Both are good enough receivers to snag passes in full stride. And both are mean, mean blockers. Rice in particular is special – his running style reminds me of Emmitt Smith’s only with more quickness.

Jackson would also make a Top 5 Players Screwed On A Bad Team list. I can’t believe the Rams ran him into the ground in so many meaningless games last year.

Now to the Peterson-Johnson debate. First off, I’m not much of a numbers guy, but it’s hard to overlook the fact that Johnson outrushed Peterson by 623 yards last season. 623! People think Johnson is simply a homerun threat, but the reality is, because he has unparalleled initial quickness and lateral agility, he creates space between the tackles and in short-yardage situations. Oh, also, Johnson rarely fumbles.

Josh Katzowitz's top five

5. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars

4. Steven Jackson, Rams

3. Ray Rice, Ravens

2. Adrian Peterson, Vikings

1. Chris Johnson, Titans

Johnson is No. 1, end of discussion. OK, a little more discussion. I’m not saying Peterson is as good as Johnson, because he’s not. But Peterson has been one of the best backs in the league for three years; Johnson only two. (OK, this is a bit flimsy.) But take away Peterson’s fumbles, and the gap between the two shrinks. Also, if we’re talking about numbers, Peterson had 532 more rushing yards than Johnson in 2008. Plus, Johnson isn’t as good a blocker as Peterson. But yeah, no question, Johnson is No. 1 right now. If he misses part of training camp in his contract dispute, though, you have to wonder how that will affect him.

I like Rice just a little bit better than Jackson, simply because Rice is more productive in the pass game. Hell, his 78 catches last year tied for 19th among league leaders, ahead of Chad Ochocinco, Calvin Johnson and Donald Driver. You’d have to hope, at some point, that Jackson can get on a team with a chance to win something. The Rams teams for which he’s played are a combined 28-68. Yet, Jackson is about 500 yards away from breaking Eric Dickerson’s club rushing record.

Since our lists are so similar, we could do a top-eight again. Say, 6. Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams (led the league in rushing touchdowns in 2008); 7. San Francisco’s Frank Gore (a strong power runner who can break a tackle); and 8. Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles (this one is a little premature, but he could be the next great running back with his speed, his field-reading ability and the way he continues to gain yards after first contact. I like him quite a bit).

Andy’s rebuttal

I can’t put Charles top 8 just yet. He’s strictly an outside runner at this point. He racked up a lot of yards against bad run defenses late last season (143 against Buffalo, 154 against Cleveland and 259 against Denver). I don’t want this to come across as me hating on the guy – I love Charles’s acceleration and elusiveness – but I need to see a larger body of work.

My 6-8 looks like this: 6. Jonathan Stewart; 7. DeAngelo Williams; 8. Frank Gore. Stewart is a slightly more complete back than Williams. People think he’s just a between-the-tackles bruiser, but he actually has outstanding lateral agility and tempo change. Williams is as shifty as they come. Gore, who has the toughness and valor of a gladiator, plays downhill as well as anyone in the game.

I actually did a top 10 running backs list a few months ago for other websites. I had Cedric Benson at 9 and Rashard Mendenhall at 10. I love both guys’ initial burst. What surprised me is the amount of criticism I fielded for ignoring Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. I didn’t understand the criticism at first, but after reviewing the Dolphins offense closer in recent weeks, I can see where people are coming from. Williams and Brown are consummate pros when it comes to patience and operating within the confines of a system. They’re the best tandem in the game behind the Carolina guys. Agree/disagree?

Josh’s final word

Yeah, I’d have to agree. I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with a tandem that’s better than Williams and Brown – aside from Williams and Stewart, of course – and I can’t. I could see maybe Buffalo’s Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller entering that conversation after this year – you’d have to include Marshawn Lynch if he’s still around, I guess – but other than that, I’ve got nothing.

Other positions: Safety | Cornerback | 3-4 Scheme Outside Linebacker | Punter  | Kicker | 4-3 Scheme Outside Linebacker | Inside Linebacker  | Defensive Tackle  | Defensive End | Offensive Tackle   | Center | Offensive Guard | Tight End | Wide Receiver)

--Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit

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