Which franchise has had the best trio of running backs in NFL history?


Think back to your childhood. Do you remember…

* My dad can beat up your dad
* Hank Aaron is better than Willie Mays
* Superman could beat up Batman

Arguments or debates as a child were always fun. So, let’s turn back the clock a little. It’s the offseason for the NFL. There’s a few weeks until the NFL draft. We’ve got some time to debate this issue…

Which NFL franchise has had the best trio of running backs in NFL history?

To get the ball rolling, here’s my top 10. I looked at a few stats, looked up a few numbers, and tried to recall the careers of some of these running backs. I’m not willing to go to war with these picks, but it should be a good start for some debate. What’s your choice?

Best running back trios in NFL history

1. Dallas Cowboys (Emmitt Smith, Tony Dorsett, Don Perkins). Smith and Dorsett are both in the Hall of Fame and are one of only three pairs of running backs to have over 10,000 yards rushing for one team. Perkins had 6217 yards in his Cowboys career. Smith is the league’s all-time leading rusher and led the league twice for most yards in a season. Smith had 11 1,000-yard seasons, Dorsett had eight. Smith was a league and Super Bowl MVP.

2. Cleveland Browns (Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly, Marion Motley). Each of these RBs is in the Hall of Fame, although Brown is the only one of the group to gain over 10,000 yards with the team. Kelly had 7274 yards, while Motley had 4712. Brown led the league in rushing a record eight times.

3. Buffalo Bills (Thurman Thomas, O.J. Simpson, Fred Jackson). Thomas and Simpson both gained over 10,000 yards with the Bills. Jackson had 5121. Simpson led the league in rushing on four seasons. Both Thomas and Simpson are in the Hall of Fame.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (Franco Harris, Jerome Bettis, John Henry Johnson). Another pair of 10,000-yard rushers in Harris and Bettis. Harris and Johnson are in the Hall, and Bettis will likely make it three. Johnson had only 4381 yards rushing in his Pittsburgh career. Harris had a Super Bowl MVP Award on his resume.

5. St. Louis Rams/L.A Rams (Steven Jackson, Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk). Dickerson and Faulk are Hall of Famers, although neither gained over 8,000 yards in their career with the Rams. Jackson had 10135 yards in his St. Louis career with eight 1,000-yard seasons. Faulk was a league MVP recipient.

6. Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers (Eddie George, Earl Campbell, Chris Johnson). One of only two teams to have three runners with more than 7500 career rushing yards. Campbell is in the Hall of Fame and was a league MVP in 1980 with the Oilers.

7. Chicago Bears (Walter Payton, Gale Sayers, Matt Forte). Payton is second on the all-time career list for yards and had 10 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Sayers and Payton are both in the Hall of Fame, although Sayers had under 5000 yards rushing in his career. Forte has 6666 rushing yards in his career with the Bears.

8. Green Bay Packers (Ahman Green, Jim Taylor, Paul Hornung). Hornung and Taylor both have Hall of Fame and league MVPs on their resumes. Hornung had only 3711 yards rushing in his career. Green holds the team career rushing record with 8322 yards gained.

9. San Francisco 49ers (Frank Gore, Joe Perry, Roger Craig). This trio each had over 7000 yards rushing with the 49ers. Perry is a Hall of Famer, while Craig made his mark as not only a runner, but as a receiver out of the backfield.

10. New York Jets (Curtis Martin, Freeman McNeil, Emerson Boozer). Martin is in the Hall after gaining 10302 yards for the Jets in his career. McNeil gained over 8000, while Boozer had 5135. Martin also had 10 1000-yard seasons, including seven with the Jets.

So which team is your choice for the best trio of running backs? Let the debate begin.



Kyle Lohse’s pitching gem leads Brewers to ninth straight win


The Brewers won their ninth straight game of the season yesterday with a 4-1 win over Pittsburgh. Leading the way was a masterful pitching performance by Kyle Lohse.

Lohse’s pitching line included 8.2 innings pitched, nine strikeouts, no walks and only four hits allowed. For the Brewers pitching staff, it was the first time since Zack Greinke in 2012 that a pitcher had nine or more strikeouts with no walks in eight or more innings. Greinke had 11 K’s and no walks in eight innings on May 9, 2012 in a 2-1 loss to the Reds.

It was the 24th time in Brewers history that a pitcher had 9+ strikeouts, no walks and 8+ innings pitched. Lohse became the 17th different Brewers hurler to accomplish this feat. Five pitchers did it multiple times: Ben Sheets (3 times), Teddy Higuera (3), Chris Bosio (2), Dave Bush (2) and Mike Caldwell (2). In addition to Lohse, the eleven pitchers who accomplished this once in their Brewers’ career are: Chris Capuano, Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Jimmy Haynes, Jim Lonborg, Tomo Ohka, Ruben Quevedo, C.C. Sabathia, Jim Slaton, Don Sutton and Jimmy Wright.

The Brewers are now 18-6 games in which their pitchers accomplish this stat. Brewers pitchers have accomplished this feat most often against the Houston Astros; it happened three times.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp


The case for DeSean Jackson: Big play TD stat

DeSean Jackson

(DeSean Jackson) 

Over the past few weeks we had heard (and read) ad nauseam about DeSean Jackson. Should he have been released from the Eagles? Did he have gang ties? Was he a bad influence in the locker room? Did Eagles coach Chip Kelly “have” to get rid of him?

I’m not going to add to the chatter with my own opinion. I will, however, offer some facts about Jackson’s on-field performance. First, Jackson last year set career highs in pass receptions and receiving yardage. Some people will note that it was Kelly’s system that helped Jackson achieve these numbers. Fair statement. But Jackson did not have Kelly as his coach in his first five seasons in the league, and he had established himself as a legitimate big play threat in the NFL… maybe one of the best in the last six years!

That’s where I want to jump off in this discussion… big plays. Let’s focus on one stat: Big play touchdowns. Last season Jackson had five TDs of 30 yards or more, and in his six-year NFL career, he has had 28 TDs of 30+ yards of the 41 he has scored (regular season and playoff). Let’s extend the discussion, however. Let’s look at touchdown plays of 50 yards or more. Last year he had two. But if you go back to when he came into the league, in 2008, Jackson has scored 18 big play TDs (touchdowns of 50 yards or more). That is the most of any player in the league during that time.

Here’s a look at the most TDs of 50 yards or more since 2008.

DeSean Jackson… 18
Chris Johnson… 14
Jacoby Jones… 13
Calvin Johnson… 12
Adrian Peterson, Mike Wallace… 10
Victor Cruz, Pierre Garcon, Percy Harvin, Jordy Nelson, DeAngelo Williams, 9
Jamaal Charles, Devin Hester, Greg Jennings, Darren Sprole, 8

So, we can score one for Jackson as the top big play TD threat in the NFL over the past six years. Looking back at the history of the NFL (since the merger of 1970), Jackson holds on spot as one of the top big play TD threats. Since 1970, Jerry Rice holds the number one spot with 38 TDs of 50 yards or more. Looking at the top 15 players on this list, there are two active players… Devin Hester, and, you guessed it, DeSean Jackson. Hester has 22, Jackson 18.

Here are the players with the most TDs of 50 yards of more since 1970.

Jerry Rice, 38
Randy Moss, 32
Terrell Owens, 28
Steve Smith, 24
Ken Burroughs, Joey Gallaway, Devin Hester, 22
Mel Gray, Stanley Morgan, Santana Moss, Freddie Solomon, 20
James Lofton, Eric Metcalf, 19
Willie Gault, DeSean Jackson, 18

DeSean Jackson has clearly put up some big numbers in his first six seasons in the NFL. Will that success continue in Washington, his new NFL home? Time will tell. But based on past stats, Jackson’s on-field performance cannot be denied. If he can put these off-field distractions to the back page (or even off the chatterbox), we may be talking again next year (and beyond) about the Eagles decision to release him. It’s now up to Jackson to let the past numbers do his talking with another big year in 2014.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp



UConn, Kentucky wearing Cinderella’s slippers at this year’s Final Four


For only the third time since 1979 (when the NCAA when to a seeded format in its mens basketball tournament) two teams seeded seventh or lower have made it to the Final Four. Seventh seed UConn  and eighth seed Kentucky become the third set of teams seeded seventh or lower to both make the Final Four. The other two instances:

2011: Butler (8th seed) and VCU (11th seed)

2000: North Carolina (8th seed) and Wisconsin (8th seed)

Of the four teams above, only Butler was able to make it to the championship game.

Kentucky, as a #8 seed, becomes the 11th team since 1979 to make it to the Final Four as an eighth seed or worse. The others:

8th seeds to make Final Four: UCLA (1980), Villanova (1985), North Carolina (2000), Wisconsin (2000), Butler (2011)
9th seeds to make Final Four: Penn (1979), Wichita State (2013)
11th seeds to make Final Four: LSU (1986), George Mason (2006), VCU (2011)

Let’s take it a step further. UConn and Kentucky become the 25th and 26th teams since 1979 seeded as fifth seeds or worse to make the Final Four. Of the 24 teams prior to this year’s pair, only nine of those teams made it to the Final Four championship game. Here are the nine teams prior to this year that were seeded fifth or lower that made it to the Final Four championship game. (* indicates they won the championship)

1980: UCLA (8th seed)
1983: North Carolina State (6th seed)*
1985: Villanova (8th seed)*
1988: Kansas (6th seed)*
1992: Michigan (6th seed)
2000: Florida (5th seed)
2002: Indiana (5th seed)
2010: Butler (5th seed)
2011: Butler (8th seed)

Teams seeded fifth or worse are 12-21 in Final Four games since 1979.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp


Can the only #1 seed left in the Final Four finish the season on top?

Florida Gators

Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators entered the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tourney as the number one overall seed. With only three games left in the tournament, Florida remains the only #1 seed and is the odd-on favorite to hoist the trophy on Monday night.

The Gators have a lot history in their favor in the Final Four: This is the fourth year of the last five where only one #1 seed remains in the Final Four. In the previous three instances, the only remaining #1 seed eventually won the tournament. Since the NCAA went to a seeded bracket in 1979, there have been 13 cases where only one of the four #1 seeds made it to the Final Four. That #1 seed has won eight of those 13 Final Fours.

Here’s a look at the 14 Final Fours where only one #1 seed made it to the Final Four

2014: Florida (???)
2013: Louisville (won tourney)
2012: Kentucky (won tourney)
2010: Duke (won tourney)
2004: Duke
2003: Texas
2000: Michigan State (won tourney)
1998: North Carolina
1995: UCLA (won tourney)
1994: Arkansas (won tourney)
1992: Duke (won tourney)
1990: UNLV (won tourney)
1989: Illinois
1979: Indiana State

In the 36 years since the NCAA began using the seeded brackets, a #1 seed has won 20 (57.1%) of those tournaments. Here’s a seeded breakdown of the past 35 men’s NCAA basketball champions.

#1 seed: 20 (titles)
#2 seed: 6
#3 seed: 5
#4 seed: 1
#5 seed: 0
#6 seed: 2
#7 seed: 0
#8 seed: 1 (Villanova, 1985)

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp



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