Would I be crazy to say that the Green Bay Packers possibly have one of the best backfields in the NFL? They haven’t had a running back who has run for over 100 yards in a single game for a number of years, but they just might have drafted the running back that can break that dry spell. Yes, I’m talking about the bruising running back from Alabama named Eddie Lacy. We all know what he did in the SEC championship game against Georgia, and the whole nation witnessed just exactly what he is capable of in the BCS title game. He is a powerful back that can take the ball in between the tackles and run over almost any blocker in his path. He ran for an amazing 1,322 yards in his last season at Alabama and who says he can’t do the same at the NFL level? Almost every team had questions about Lacy since it was revealed that he had toe surgery before the NFL draft and that would lead to some problems in the NFL but he has looked like the bruising running back from Alabama so far in his first NFL campaign, so Green Bay might have gotten a diamond from out of the rough. Combine Lacy with the finesse styles of Alex Green and James Starks, along with the raw talent of fellow draft pick Johnathan Franklin, and for the first time in years, Green Bay might have one of the best (if not the best) backfields in football.
I believe if we are going to talk about the best backfield in The NFL, the Minnesota Vikings would have an argument to present to us. It would be nearly impossible to forget about the one man backfield in that city that goes by the name of Adrian Peterson. Just like Lacy, he too had medical concerns heading into his draft day as he was recovering from a broken collarbone. Many people would most likely say Lacy’s toe surgery would be the greater concern, but when you are getting hit by 200 pound linebackers at full speed, a collarbone injury would become very prominent. The Vikings were not scared away and they took a risk on Peterson. It seems like that have hit the jackpot seeing as how Peterson came within mere feet of having the best season by a running back ever. He has been consistently good ever since he entered the NFL, and he doesn’t look like is slowing down at all. The way he makes defenders miss tackles and get crossed up on their own two feet has to bring back memories of the back that arguably was the best finesse runner in NFL history, Barry Sanders. The Vikings only have one NFL caliber running back on their roster, but that alone may be enough to be in consideration for the best backfield in the league as long as Peterson continues on his torrid pace on the rushing record books. Unfortunately for Minnesota, their lack of a great passing game allows opposing defenses to hone in on their running game because Minnesota’s quarterback simply does not do enough to strike fear with opposing teams.
Another backfield to watch is the one in Atlanta. With the offseason addition of Steven Jackson to go along with the smooth running Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta has a change of pace 1-2 punch that could cause havoc for opposing defenses and open the field up for Matt Ryan and his receivers. Steven Jackson is one the best running backs at going in between the tackles and bowling over defenders like they were bowling pins. Even when he was playing in St. Louis behind a below average offensive line, he still managed to churn out seasons of over 1,000 yards. Now that he is playing in Atlanta behind their offensive line which is quite a bit better than the one in St. Louis, he will definitely be a player to watch and might make Atlanta the team with the best backfield.
However you may think of it, their is a number of interesting storylines about to emerge this year in the NFL in the terms of rushing backfields. Some people may think of me as crazy for saying this, but Green Bay could have one of those years where their rushing game helps them as much as their passing game. If they can run up a record of 15-1 solely on the arm of Aaron Rodgers, imagine what they could do if a good ground attack was added to the mix. From San Francisco to New England, this year might be one of those years that rushing may play a key role in who gets to the playoffs and ultimately hoists up the Lombardi trophy in February.
Chris Lemieux is an NFL writer for TPF and can be contacted at CLemieux@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com