This weekend, on Sunday Night Football, we will see what looked like one of the top matchups of the year prior to this season. In another matchup of top quarterbacks, the San Diego Chargers will travel to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers. I’m sure there will be some discussion about Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers being in the same draft class, and many previews will talk about how this is the third meeting in less than a year between these teams. But, to me, the main story is that both teams have struggled early in the season, with the Chargers winning a very close game in Oakland in week 1 and losing to the Ravens in week 2, and the Steelers twice losing second half leads in the last two weeks. While it has become expected almost for San Diego to struggle early in the year under Norv Turner, Pittsburgh has generally started strong since Mike Tomlin has taken over. So, will we see the Steelers get back to their winning ways this weekend, or will they find another way to lose? Or, will the Chargers just play outstanding football and overpower the ailing champs? (more…)
Archive for the ‘San Diego Chargers’ Category
Last year, the San Diego Chargers got off to a very slow start, eventally becoming the only team in NFL history to start out 4-8 and make the playoffs. Many of their struggles stemmed from the loss of Shawn Merriman for the season and the suddenly below average rushing game due to LaDainian Tomlinson’s injuries in 2008. Because of their defensive struggles, they were unable to hold leads late in games. They lost a total of 6 games by 7 points or less. With LT and Merriman back, they are expected to have a significantly better record this year. But, how much better could it be?
About a year and a half ago, I was inspired to perform an analysis on the top running backs in NFL history. I did 2 posts on the topic at Behind the Steel Curtain, first on the top 10 backs in overall rushing yards, then a followup including the RBs that were top 10 in yards/game and yards/attempt. In these analyses, I had included the entire careers of each player considered, which may have unfairly favored players who retired at or near their primes. So, I had been considering for a while whether it might be of interest to complete the same type of analysis for all of the players, but in this case, I would only consider the best 4 year period in that player’s career. So, essentially, I am reviewing the career peaks of the best running backs in NFL history.
Why 4 years? In some ways, it’s an arbitrary
choice. But, it is about the average length of most running backs’ careers. I believe the average is below 3.5 years now, but that’s still more than 3, on average. It’s also the number of years that Terrell Davis was productive. Because of that, I was just curious to see how he stacked up against other RBs peak 4 year period.
In this post, I am reviewing the same 20 players as in the last RB analysis. They are listed in the table below, in addition to the following information:
- the years analyzed
- number of games played and started for those years
- total yards from scrimmage during those years
- total touchdowns and fumbles from those years
The way that I determined which four year period to analyze for each player was by determining for which period that player had the most total yards from scrimmage.
|Walter Payton 1||1977-1980||62||62||7746||50||28|
|Walter Payton 2||1983-1986||64||64||7829||41||22|
There are a couple of Items of Note to address before moving forward. First, I included two 4 year periods for Walter Payton because he was the only player to have two distinct peak periods, for which the total yards from scrimmage were within about 80 yards of each other. By distinct periods I mean that there was no overlap in the years for those two periods. Secondly, Spec Sanders’s and Jamal Lewis’s periods are adjusted for special circumstances. Sanders’s analysis is only for 3 years, because he played halfback from 1946 to 1948, did not play in 1949, and returned in 1950 as a safety. So, I thought it made more sense to only include his numbers from the first three years. Lewis’s analysis covers the period from 2000 to 2004, which is 5 years. But, since he was out the entirety of the 2001 season with a knee injury, I decided that this period would be accurate for this analysis.
As with the previous analyses, I ranked each player according yards per game and per touch in both rushing and receiving as well as TDs and fumbles per game. After ranking them in each category, I calculated the average of each player’s rankings in all categories and sorted the running backs from highest average among all categories to lowest. In the following tables, I have included the raw statistics (gathered from Pro-Football-Reference.com) for the players.
Of course, being a Steelers fan, I love Ben Roethlisberger. I am also an NC State alum, so I love Philip Rivers as well. An argument can be made that he is one of the top 5-10 college quarterbacks ever, particularly considering that unlike other QBs in that discussion, he didn’t have a team filled with top 10 recruiting classes. Considering that and the fact that his college offense was a typical pro-style offense, not the run-and-shoot or spread, his numbers in college were staggering. Just check here, and scroll down to the bottom. With that said, I wanted to take a look at how Philip Rivers compares with his more decorated Draft Classmates. I realize that Rivers is the only first round QB from the 2004 NFL draft without a super bowl ring. But, that doesn’t mean he’s vastly inferior to Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning.
So, as I have already done in this post and this followup post on Ben vs. Eli, I will review Philip Rivers’s accomplishments against theirs. I will also review the level of defense that he faced so far in his career. He’s been hammered for playing in the weak AFC West, but has the Chargers’ defensive schedule overall been significantly weaker than the Steelers’ and Giants’ schedules? We’ll find out. (Note: All data taken from www.pro-football-reference.com)