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Jonathan Taylor | Critical Thinking of the NFL Running Back Dilemma | 2023 Opinion

Critical Thinking of the NFL Running Back Dilemma

by Bo McBrayer

Always push boundaries and challenge the status quo. I didn’t necessarily grow up with an anti-establishment mindset, but there was no one to elevate to a pedestal without earning it. Life is a mind-numbing simple meritocracy, but people are complex and only serve to convolute the process.

Professional football has changed in a way that severely depresses the value of NFL running backs. Franchises copy one another like a kid brother. They are also poorly versed in the difference between correlation and causation.

We laugh when coaches and executives spout about how teams that run the ball more than 25 times have a higher winning percentage, blah, blah, blah… Of course, teams who are ahead on the scoreboard will run the ball more often. Running the ball more is correlated with more wins but does not necessarily cause the increase in winning percentage.

Critical Thinking of the NFL Running Back Dilemma

The last NFL running back to sign a contract extension with an annual salary of over $10 million was Nick Chubb over 700 days ago. Blame Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys. Their bull-headedness led them into an Ezekiel Elliott contract that was an all-time albatross for the franchise and coincided with his precipitous freefall from peak effectiveness.

The Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl with a motley tandem of a seventh-round rookie and a veritable geezer of a scat back last season. Now, with more than a handful of accomplished ball carriers still unemployed and a few more looking for their first free agent salary splash, ownership groups are offering tumbleweeds in return.

RBs are important, both in real-life football and fantasy alike. The great ones are more than enough to push a roster over the top. Nobody mentions how amazing Christian McCaffrey was for the 49ers after signing a gigantic extension. That team was Super Bowl bound before losing all of their QBs to injury. Paying NFL running backs did not cause teams to lose. Losing teams just looked really bad when they choked with an expensive RB on the payroll. Not investing in RBs will never be an actual pathway to more winning. Correlation does not equal causation.

Professional football will never be a just system. Nor will it ever approach a perfect solution for every player to be fairly compensated. The players will always have a grievance, as it is their prerogative to maintain an even keel between the union and ownership. Change the game and there will be a ripple effect. Change the business and start a tsunami. The drum beats on either way.

Thanks for reading my opinion on the NFL running backs dilemma. Find all my work on Twitter, @Bo_McBigTime, and check out my huge collection of decadence at BigTime FlavorCo.

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1 comment

Could the Jonathan Taylor Trade Saga End In Los Angeles? (2023) August 29, 2023 - 1:33 am

[…] Still, the NFL doesn’t just pay the player for their past production, but rather a combination of that and what their future outcome could be. We all know running backs don’t get that same luxury as other positions; that isn’t what this blog is about (although you can check one out on that here). […]

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