Today’s NFL is dominated by passers. Manning, Brees, Brady, even Romo. But this could all change overnight. Even with the rule changes that favor passing, running the ball remains a productive option. The NFL’s best teams don’t throw on every down. In fact, the Carolina Panthers even use a fullback (Mike Tolbert) to great effect. Running the ball can take pressure off your defense or mediocre quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick).
So why don’t teams run the ball as often as they used to? What happened to smashmouth football? Offensive lines changed. Only a few teams have a Richie Incognito. A bulldozer.
Running backs weren’t even drafted highly the last few years. Until Todd Gurley. Todd Gurley is the last hope for smashmouth football. He can run even with 8 men lined up in the box because linebackers have gotten smaller and smaller. A 3-4 is great… against the pass. With everything in the NFL geared towards the pass eventually someone is going to figure out that heading forward the best way to play football is to give a running back the ball 30 or 40 times a game. Because no one will expect it. If you prepared for someone to pass the ball, are you prepared for a ground game that will wear your defense down to a puddle?
Eventually innovation will lead straight back to what made the NFL what it is today. Anyone who averages over 3.4 per carry will get you a first down in three runs. The NFL will come full circle especially as the great quarterbacks today retire. Balance will always be key, and you can simulate a running game with short passes, but eventually someone like Todd Gurley will come along and show a generation of high schoolers that being a running back is cool, even cooler than being a quarterback.