Establishing the ground game is essential in the NFL. Although throwing the long bomb and connecting on it is considered to be the most exciting play on the gridiron, the running game allows teams to air it out. Additionally, the short yardage run is the essence of ball control football, while the open field carry can be a back-breaker for opponents.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be examining some of the best rushing units in the NFL. In this first article, I’ll consider what may be the finest the league has to offer—the running game of the San Diego Chargers.
One name says it all—LaDainian Tomlinson, who is also known as LT. Tomlinson had an off season in 2007 due to some nagging injuries. He rushed for 1,474 yards and carried the ball over the goal line 15 times. That’s a fine season for most NFL runners, but it was sub par for LT. Still he was the league’s MVP.
It’s been reported that although the star rusher won’t play in the preseason that Tomlinson is healthy and ready to go. Known for his strength and smoothness, the RB can bounce off would be tacklers. It’s virtually impossible to bring him down from above. He’s also durable. In seven NFL seasons, he has missed only one game. Along with possessing great running ability, Tomlinson is also a sure-handed receiver.
Tomlinson’s backup is Darren Sproles. Although not a standout, he can make plays when needed. Sproles takes the place of former RB Michael Turner who went to the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent after last season. Losing Turner will hurt, but Tomlinson is so good and Sproles is good enough that he probably won’t be missed.
The Chargers do not have the deepest backfield but they do field the best runner in the league. Tomlinson can set up mismatches, reverse direction quickly and become a receiver. Watch out, with Tomlinson at RB those Chargers will be charging down the field once again this season.