Cowboys and Short-Yardage Backs

T-RO

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In the past year we've repeatedly heard Zeke described as a "Short-Yardage back" or "Short Yardage Specialist." Many here argue that every team needs such a big, bully back, esp. the Cowboys. They want that big 225-240lb guy who can hit the wall of the defense yet still bully his way for a yard or two.

I suggest we look at what top NFL coaches think about this subject and how they are building their Running Back rooms. What are their views on the "Short-Yardage Specialist"?

Before we look at the RBs of top teams, let's chew on what Running-Game Guru thinks.

49er Head Coach Kyle Shanahan says:

“What is a short-yardage power back? Is that just the biggest guy possible? Is it the Nigerian Nightmare? Is that the only way? It doesn’t have to always be that way. I think Frank Gore is an unbelievable short-yardage back and is he a real big guy? No, he’s a normal back. So I think our guys can be similar to that.”

“It’s very rare that you just run into people and run over a pile,” Shanahan said. “It’s about finding creases. There’s gaps that everyone has and usually everyone has so many people up in there to play the gaps that you have got to get to that open gap that’s there.
 

T-RO

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A look at the Super Bowl teams.

Do we see big power backs? "Short-Yardage" specialists?

-Isiah Pacheco, 5'11, 215 lb... 170 carries (I doubt he weighs even that much)
-Jerick McKinnon, 5'9 201... 72 carries
-Clyde Edwards-Helaire, 5'8 209... 71 carries

No power backs.

Eagles?
Miles Sanders, 5'11, 211... 259 carries
Boston Scott, 5'6, 203...54 carries
Kenneth Gainwell, 5'9 200 ...53 carries



Eye test on Pacheco - Real weight?
https://www.ksn.com/wp-content/uplo...2333572824494.jpg?w=1752&h=986&crop=1[/image]

Eye test on Sanders - Real weight?
https://cdn.profootballrumors.com/files/2020/10/USATSI_15047165.jpg
 

Kwyn

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In the past year we've repeatedly heard Zeke described as a "Short-Yardage back" or "Short Yardage Specialist." Many here argue that every team needs such a big, bully back, esp. the Cowboys. They want that big 225-240lb guy who can hit the wall of the defense yet still bully his way for a yard or two.

I suggest we look at what top NFL coaches think about this subject and how they are building their Running Back rooms. What are their views on the "Short-Yardage Specialist"?

Before we look at the RBs of top teams, let's chew on what Running-Game Guru thinks.

49er Head Coach Kyle Shanahan says:
It’s not some rare white buffalo type of thing. I don’t care what Shanahan says. Sometimes people get asked a question and say whatever comes to mind.
 

T-RO

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I don’t care what Shanahan says. Sometimes people get asked a question and say whatever comes to mind.

Shanahan might be regarded as the best mind amongst coaches when it comes to the run game.

His lead backs this year:
McCaffrey, 159 carries...5'11 205 lbs
Jeff Wilson, 92 carries...6'0 194
Elijah Mitchell, 45 carries...5'10, 200 lbs

Big and powerful? Nope. Any "Short-yard specialists"? Nope.
 

T-RO

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This was just a term Zeke fans use to excuse his lack of effectiveness for any situation over two yards this year.

Pretty much.

I'm mostly interested in post-Zeke world. Decades ago we had big bruiser backs like Bettis, Czonka, Okoye, Riggins, Marshawn Lynch, Mike Alstott, Earl Campbell.

Not so much anymore.
 

Kwyn

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Pretty much.

I'm mostly interested in post-Zeke world. Decades ago we had big bruiser backs like Bettis, Czonka, Okoye, Riggins, Marshawn Lynch, Mike Alstott, Earl Campbell.

Not so much anymore.
Derrick Henry
Nick Chubb
Josh Jacobs

Can’t always rely on the current message board “meta”.

Sometimes you just have to look at what’s really happening on the field.
 

T-RO

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Derrick Henry
Nick Chubb
Josh Jacobs

Can’t always rely on the current message board “meta”.

Sometimes you just have to look at what’s really happening on the field.

Jacobs and Chubb are not anything like the big bruisers I referenced. Those cats run 220. Bettis was 250. Earl Campbell nearly the same. Derrick Henry is of course, in that massive mold, but he was drafted awhile back now.

The top teams now seem perfectly happy with three 195-210 backs. I've already referenced Chiefs, Eagles and Niners. Here's another.

Bills leading ball carriers
Devin Singletary, 177 carries...5'7 203 lbs
James Cook, 89 carries...5'11 190 lbs
Zack Moss, 17 carries...5'9 205 lbs

All "Scat-back" types. Not anything close to a power back on their roster.
 
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StuckMojo

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I don’t like short yardage situations where we bunch all 11 players together with no gaps or holes to run through, unless we had a powerful blocking scheme to knock people backwards.
 
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Kwyn

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Jacobs and Chubb are not anything like the big bruisers I referenced. Those cats run 220. Bettis was 250. Earl Campbell nearly the same. Derrick Henry is of course, in that massive mold, but he was drafted awhile back now.

The top teams now seem perfectly happy with three 195-210 backs. I've already referenced Chiefs, Eagles and Niners. Here's another.

Bills leading ball carriers
Devin Singletary, 177 carries...5'7 203 lbs
James Cook, 89 carries...5'11 190 lbs
Zack Moss, 17 carries...5'9 205 lbs

All "Scat-back" types. Not anything close to a power back on their roster.
Chubb, Henry and Jacobs are power runners who thrive between the tackles. They are all premier RBs in the NFL and are not simply a height/weight stat that can be easily dismissed.

Is there a place for guys like Pollard? Absolutely.

Is there a place for bruising RB’s? Absolutely.

Bringing up Earl Campbell? Really? He wasn’t close to 250 btw.

Hell, might as well talk about Jim Brown or Larry Csonka if we’re going back in time. Neither of whom were 250 but are right up there on all-time power RBs.

Not sure why you’re so eager to turn the page and put it in stone that little guys who can occasionally break a long run or catch a bunch of passes have made guys who can get tough yards on demand a bunch of dinosaurs.

Watch Bijan next year. Vision and power. Let’s hope he isn’t in the East:
 

T-RO

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Watch Bijan next year. Vision and power. Let’s hope he isn’t in the East:

I in fact hope BR is in the East playing under our banner. I've been trumpeting that message more than anyone around here. Oh but what's this? Robinson is 6'0" 215 lbs.

What makes Bijan insanely great is vision, balance, quickness, instincts, change-of-direction w/out loss of speed...oh and he has hands with route running ability to dip into the slot or even play an occasional rep out wide. He breaks tackles like crazy because with his vision he can diminish a hit. With his balance he can take a blunted hit, recalibrate and adjust in a micro-second. Keep gliding downfield, again with little loss of speed.

Let's compare Bijan versus a recent Bulky back, Najee Harris, at 232 LB. Harris has stacked up decent yardage, but at a mediocre 3.8 yards per carry. What Harris could do with a better o-line is an open question, but he's just a good back. Nothing special. Lacks the things that make Bijan great.

I'm not anti-big-back at all. Loved me some Erik Dickerson back in the day. But the NFL has come to learn that the position is usually best profiled by someone under 6'1, and somewhere near 210. Unicorns will rise and astonish and succeed. But they will be just that: unicorns, the exceptions. Don't bet the house on exceptions.
 
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MyFairLady

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Eagles short yardage back - J. Hurts
Bills short yardage back - J. Allen
Exactly. You can add Mahomes, Lamar and Burrow to that list as well. If it is third and short our 40 million dollar princess should be getting the job done.
 

Chuck 54

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Personally, I’ve seen Zeke stuffed more often than Pollard. Zeke is renowned for his vision, but Pollard seems to always find the crease and is seldom stopped in the backfield. How often have we ever said Pollard should have gotten more out of that? Almost never. We are amazed that he gets so much more than was there. Emmitt NEVER had another back for short yardage. He was amazing. For a smaller guy, Dorsett was a very good short yardage and goal line back. If he wasn‘t, he never would have been given the ball for that 99 yard run.

If a back has vision and feel, he only needs enough size that arm tackles don’t take him down.
 

T-RO

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Personally, I’ve seen Zeke stuffed more often than Pollard.

True but the remaining Zeke fans are gonna be in full cricket mode now. Will never face the heat of debate...or concede.

Zeke is renowned for his vision, but Pollard seems to always find the crease and is seldom stopped in the backfield. How often have we ever said Pollard should have gotten more out of that? Almost never. We are amazed that he gets so much more than was there. Emmitt NEVER had another back for short yardage. He was amazing. For a smaller guy, Dorsett was a very good short yardage and goal line back. If he wasn‘t, he never would have been given the ball for that 99 yard run.

If a back has vision and feel, he only needs enough size that arm tackles don’t take him down.

Find the crease and hit it like lightning. You'll out-do the power back in short yardage 3/4 of the time.
 

Hadenough

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A look at the Super Bowl teams.

Do we see big power backs? "Short-Yardage" specialists?

-Isiah Pacheco, 5'11, 215 lb... 170 carries (I doubt he weighs even that much)
-Jerick McKinnon, 5'9 201... 72 carries
-Clyde Edwards-Helaire, 5'8 209... 71 carries

No power backs.

Eagles?
Miles Sanders, 5'11, 211... 259 carries
Boston Scott, 5'6, 203...54 carries
Kenneth Gainwell, 5'9 200 ...53 carries



Eye test on Pacheco - Real weight?
https://www.ksn.com/wp-content/uplo...2333572824494.jpg?w=1752&h=986&crop=1[/image]

Eye test on Sanders - Real weight?
https://cdn.profootballrumors.com/files/2020/10/USATSI_15047165.jpg
Those SB teams usually have a solid QB and prefer the pass catching back with some wiggle. To me the biggest problem with Zeke was he danced a little too much in his older age and just didn't find the crease and hit it hard and fast.
 

glimmerman

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Elliot was not just short yardage. He could gain 1-3 or more yards when other RBs would have gotten nothing. And he punished tacklers over and over to the point they made business decisions when time to tackle him later. He could wear them down. In the second half he broke big plays. That’s what he is missing now. But Pollard could. What will we see this year if we are without Elliot.
 

Ranching

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CowboysZone ULTIMATE Fan
In the past year we've repeatedly heard Zeke described as a "Short-Yardage back" or "Short Yardage Specialist." Many here argue that every team needs such a big, bully back, esp. the Cowboys. They want that big 225-240lb guy who can hit the wall of the defense yet still bully his way for a yard or two.

I suggest we look at what top NFL coaches think about this subject and how they are building their Running Back rooms. What are their views on the "Short-Yardage Specialist"?

Before we look at the RBs of top teams, let's chew on what Running-Game Guru thinks.

49er Head Coach Kyle Shanahan says:
With today's spread offense the power back is only needed on teams that go under center and tighten the formation on short yardage plays. Zeke wasn't a power back, he became one because he lost a step and couldn't get to the outside. The fact that they made him one also contributed to him slowing down. Pollard won't last to week 10 if they try to use him that way.
Let's hope this doesn't become a negative Zeke theead....I'm sure it will and of course Dak will be blamed, as well.
 
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