Obviously, there is plenty of blame to spread around as to why the Chiefs' running game is so ineffective right now. The o-line is certainly largely at fault as well as Johnson, IMO. In an effort to more accurately pin-point the most problematic areas, I have been comparing statistics of many running backs around the league and also their team's rushing stats as a whole to kind of get a picture about their o-line. The line is not necessarily my area of expertise so I kind of need some help with a few questions I have:
1. Is the Miami Dolphins' line really that much better than the Chiefs or is the difference more between the running of Ronnie Brown and LJ? Brown is 5th in the league in yardage on about the same amount of carries per game as LJ.
2. What about the Cardinals? Edgerrin James is 4th in yardage, has only one run of 20 or more yards, and gets roughly 5 more attempts per game that Brown or LJ. It seems like his o-line is definately performing better than ours with that stat-line but the fact that he has a 4.1 avg and only one run of 27 yards also testifies to some hard running as well. Last year, the Cardinals were ranked 30th in rushing yards.
3. Addai's reason for success (8th) should be obvious with the Colt's o-line but he has NO runs of more than 20 yards and carries a 4.8 average on roughly the same amount of carries per game as James. Further proof that the Colt's o-line can run-block as well as pass protect: Kenton Keith is already almost caught up with the middle of the pack in rushing yardage.
4. What about Adrian Peterson? Is the rookie actually better than guys like LT and LJ or is his success more a testiment of the Viking's o-line? Granted, you can't have one without the other.
5. Jamal Lewis? The Browns?? I know their first pick was an o-lineman but he is a rookie and it's one guy. This is a team that has jumped from 31st to 10th in rushing yards from last year!
6. What about Marshawn Lynch? What did Buffalo do to THAT o-line? They have made a jump from 27th to 12th in rushing yards from last season.
7. Brian Westbrook has been injured and still tops Johsnon on the rankings. The Eagles' o-line gave up a record-tying 12 sacks against a Giants defense that had been struggling coming into that game. Coincidentally, this game was the first one in which Westbrook did not start due to injury.
8. Chris Brown is not even the featured back for the Titans and he has only 1 yard less than Johnson on 3 less carries per game.
9. The Raiders. 29th in rushing yards last season. Now they lead the league in rushing ypg. Jordan is ranked 6th in rushing yards while Fargas is currently only 14 yards behind LJ on only about half of the attempts. It really looks like the Raiders did some good things with that o-line.
10. Sammy Morris didn't even start the season as the featured back in NE and has already moved far past Johnson in almost every statistical category. Of course, it IS the Patriots.
11. Finally, and perhaps most embarrassing for the Chiefs is the fact that Brian Leonard is averaging a full 1.5 more ypc than Johnson while running in Steven Jackson's abscence behind a Rams o-line that has been plagued by injury. Leonard is less than 90 yards behind Johnson on only 38 total carries to Johsnon's 84.
It is evident that some of these teams were really commited to improving their run-games during the offseason. A lot of these stats point to dramatic improvement on some of these o-lines. Some more point to the skill of the running back as the reason for their team's success on the ground. Either way, the Chiefs' line and LJ should both be embarassed. Some of the running backs in this list would never have been mentioned in the same breath as Johnson until this year. Just as the success of some of these teams on the ground is just as much of a surprise as the Chiefs' current ineptness in running the football. Now, let the discussion begin!