Thursday, April 18, 2013
Updating AFC East running back rankings
By James Walker
There has been some turnover at running back in the AFC East this offseason. Here are the updated rankings on the top five tailbacks currently in the division.
1. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
2012 stats: 207 carries, 1,244 yards, six TDs
Analysis: Spiller is an electric runner who has become one of my favorite players to watch in the division. His acceleration from zero to top speed is arguably the best in the NFL. Spiller also has developed patience, which has taken his game to a new level. Former Bills coach Chan Gailey was reluctant to hand over the starting job to Spiller over Fred Jackson. But it was tough to keep Spiller on the bench after his performance last season.
2. Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots
2012 stats: 290 carries, 1,263 yards, 12 TDs
Analysis: Ridley made a solid jump in Year 2. He became a first-time starter for the Patriots and led the team in rushing. Ridley isn't spectacular at any one thing, but he does most things well. He has a good burst and knows how to finish runs for first downs and touchdowns. Ridley is a good fit for New England's up-tempo offense. He rarely gets eight defenders in the box and often takes advantage of the running lanes. Ridley must improve his ball security in Year 3 to become more of a complete tailback.
3. Fred Jackson, Bills
2012 stats: 115 carries, 437 yards, three TDs
Analysis: It wasn’t long ago when Jackson, 32, was at the top of his game. However, age and injuries have caught up to Jackson and forced him into a backup role in Buffalo behind Spiller, who is younger and more dynamic. Jackson has wear and tear but can still be effective for the Bills and new head coach Doug Marrone. Jackson runs well between the tackles and can also catch out of the backfield.
4. Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins
2012 stats: 51 carries, 250 yards, one TD
Analysis: Miller is a wild card in the AFC East. He looked great during his 51 carries as a rookie, but Miller has a lot more responsibility this upcoming season as Miami's starter. The Dolphins feel Miller can step in and replace former starter Reggie Bush, who signed with the Detroit Lions in free agency. Miller fits in well with Miami’s quick-hitting West Coast offense. However, Miller needs to work on his pass-blocking now that he’s a full-time tailback.
5. Mike Goodson, New York Jets
2012 stats: 35 carries, 221 yards, zero TDs (in Oakland)
Analysis: Goodson rounds out the top-five running backs in the AFC East. The Jets are going away from their ground-and-pound philosophy and transitioning to a West Coast offense. Goodson has a lot more quickness than former Jets tailback Shonn Greene and could get his first opportunity to be a full-time starter. New York expects good things from Goodson this season.