Like our own Joe Rubin, the NFL has been captivated by the performances of some of its top running backs. With the strong running performances, quarterbacks may be taking a backseat this year in the MVP category.
The MVP battle is between running backs Shaun Alexander and LaDainian Tomlinson. Either could end up with the honor as they are both having incredible seasons. Although Tomlinson is the favorite, Alexander cannot be counted out.
Without receiving nearly as much attention as Tomlinson, Alexander is having a career year. He has amassed 776 yards and 12 touchdowns in just seven starts for the Seattle Seahawks. An astonishing first half of the season, Alexander looks unstoppable. After becoming Seattle’s featured back in 2001, Alexander hasn’t failed to get less than 1100 yards and 14 touchdowns. However, he has never had a start quite like this year, so look for this Seahawk to be lighting up scoreboards for the rest of the season.
Although Alexander is an impressive specimen, he is bolstered with an offensive line that could get Portland State President Daniel Bernstine to run for a touchdown. Leading the offensive line is Pro Bowl tackle Walter Jones and guard Steve Hutchinson.
LaDainian Tomlinson, of the San Diego Chargers, has been playing like lightning is running through his veins. He is shifty, explosive and powerful, and could be the best back in the last five years. Tomlinson is the cog that drives the Chargers’ offensive mechanism. His astounding number of 10 rushing, one receiving and three passing touchdowns makes him the most impressive overall back in the league. Tomlinson is the back to beat for MVP this year.
When Tomlinson has more then 20 rushing attempts the Charger’s are victorious. He can hurt you in so many ways whether it is rushing, receiving or passing touchdowns. Tomlinson gives defensive coordinators headaches.
Edgerrin James, running back for the Indianapolis Colts, is leading the league in rushing and has looked very powerful in his last two games. Coming off a bye week, the Edge will get a lot of looks in order to wear down the injury-ridden New England Patriots. His running style focuses more on his vision and power than speed. James waits for holes to open up and slashes through defenses like an annoying paper cut.
Warrick Dunn has also been having an excellent year for the Atlanta Falcons. Although he has been accruing over 100 yards per game, Dunn is losing touchdowns to short yard specialist T.J. Ducket and the ever-popular Michael Vick. Dunn is averaging 5.4 yards per carry and is fourth in rushing with 732 yards, but he has only two touchdowns.
Willis McGahee has been proving himself as a workhorse, getting up to 31 carries a game. He runs hard and won’t let up against defenders. He’s the only real offensive producer on the leaky Buffalo Bills offense that has had problems at quarterback since Drew Bledsoe went to Dallas. McGahee has 790 yards and is second in rushing only to Edgerrin James.
Some key names missing from this list of running backs are perennial Pro Bowlers Jamal Lewis, Ahman Green and Deuce McAllister, all falling to injuries or off-field issues. All of these backs are key pieces to their offense. This is obvious as the records of the three teams combined are 5-16.
With Tomlinson running like a gazelle through a jungle of tacklers, and Alexander charging into end zones time after time, the MVP award that has been dominated by the quarterback position since 2002 will be returning to the hands of either of these solid running backs.