Originally Posted by wick
If it can be statistically proven that the performance of the rushing game has virtually no effect on winning or losing, why would you engage in a strategy of spending finite resources to improve those areas of your team, thus reducing the number of resources available to shore up the areas that actually do impact winning and losing?
I think you're mostly right, but the problem is with your argument is that you're asserting a prior - that the running game has virtually no effect on winning and losing - that isn't completely correct.
The problem with most analyses of the import of the running game is that they look at the raw rushing yardage alone. Yes, it is true that raw rushing yardage often has very little explanatory power beyond passing yardage, or better, something like passing yards-per-attempt. But that doesn't actually prove that effective running doesn't have import in producing wins. The truth is that first down conversion success rates in short yardage situations, explosive running play potential and the absence of negative running plays all have meaningful contributions to victory totals.
I also think that too much Madden forces a lot of us into thinking that players are "run defenders" or "pass defenders" - for several years, we thought of Ratliff as a pure inside pass rush threat, but in more recent years, despite lacking the prototype size, he has actually been at his most effective in defending the run.
So I don't completely disagree with your premise - spending picks on running backs and thumper safeties is probably ill-advised given the importance of passing - but big, sometimes slower players who "smell" like run defenders are often pivotal parts of certain defensive schemes that very effectively defend the pass. I just don't think improving pass defense is quite as simple as, "Spend picks and FA money on pass rushers and corners."