Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

24 Oct 2005

MMQB: The Bus Is Still Rolling

Jerome Bettis in the Hall of Fame? Peter King says yes. The remarkable thing about Bettis' career is that he was burnt out with too much usage and yet came back with big seasons not once but twice -- first in 2001, then again in 2004. There's a lot of work ethic and intelligence involved in that kind of longevity. Peter's also got his "Fine Fifteen." Like our DVOA ratings, Peter refuses to give up on San Diego. I think his low rating for Jacksonville is interesting, though -- that's a team that Peter has always liked more than our numbers, but our numbers now have them much higher than Peter does.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 24 Oct 2005

73 comments, Last at 26 Oct 2005, 5:44pm by Michael David Smith

Comments

1
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 12:40pm

"Sunday in Philadelphia, the Eagles said: We're going to stop LaDainian Tomlinson. He got seven yards. A year ago, I'm sure the Eagles said: We're going to stop Bettis. And he got 149."
Ummm, Peter, I'd like to introduce you to a Jeramiah Trotter, apparently you haven't heard of him, but he's the Eagles MLB and a major part of their run defense. He wasn't playing against the Steelers, but he was against the Chargers.

2
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 12:42pm

"(Tie) The Philadelphia defense. I can't pick one player. But this swarming bunch of baying hounds was all over the great LaDainian Tomlinson for three hours, holding him to a career-low seven yards on 17 carries."
-See my previous comment

3
by Rodafowa (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 12:45pm

Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Lawrence Taylor, Brett Favre and Anthony Munoz should get to the Hall before Bettis.

Uhh... Curtis Martin?

4
by EJP (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 12:49pm

Re: #3 - Don't forget Marshall Faulk.

5
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 12:50pm

How many games below .500 does a team need to be at mid-season before it is no longer one of Peter King's top-five?

6
by calig23 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 1:02pm

5th all time in rushing yards. That is HoF caliber.

Period.

7
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 1:11pm

OK,what would be the odds of seeing Jerome Bettis, Albert Pujols, George Voinovich, and Joni Mitchell all mentioned in the same column?

8
by seven year lion (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 1:14pm

This article contains one of my favorite sportswriter conceits: predicting, for a given event, all possible outcomes.

"Not sure I like the matchup of Curtis Martin (148 rushing yards last week) vs. the leaky Atlanta D tonight. What may save the Falcs from a nightmare is the Jets losing offensive-line anchor Kevin Mawae for the season to injury last week"

Curtis Martin will run for a lot of yards!! Unless he doesn't!! Either way I, Peter King, think I think I predicted it.

9
by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 1:16pm

Last Sunday's road game in St. Louis was the first of eight straight road games for the San Antonio-based Saints -- in St. Louis, Baton Rouge (vs. Miami), Baton Rouge (vs. Chicago), in Foxboro, in East Rutherford, in Baton Rouge (vs. Tampa Bay), in Atlanta, in Baton Rouge (vs. Carolina).

I know the team is all but officially the San Antonio Saints now, but either they have 16 road games or this isn't really an 8-game road trip.

10
by michael (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 1:18pm

"b. Dr. House, you're slaying me. "Cleanup on aisle three!'' I've seen the house ad 64 times during the baseball playoffs and each time it's funnier than the previous."

Is he getting paid to pimp "house" like this? because if i see that particular commercial again, my television may be in jeopardy.

11
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 1:27pm

I can only assume he's being scarcastic.

12
by michael (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 1:30pm

I can only assume he’s being scarcastic.

See, i dunno about that - he talks about how much he loves "House" every damned week. On it's surface, it seems like a sarcastic comment, but taken in historical context, i think he *really* likes it!

13
by JG (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 1:37pm

RE 3 & 4:
I disagree, I think Bettis deserves to make the HoF before either Martin or Faulk. Don't get me wrong, both are great players, but Bettis is better.

14
by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 1:43pm

Normally, sportswriters who drop non-sports related commentary into their articles just show how stupid they are. The FEMA garbage was beyond stupid.

The comparison of Bettis and LT, as if blocking had nothing to do with their performances, was just as bad. The little throwaway mention of the Steeler line doesn't negate the fact that he thinks Bettis is responsible for the huge holes he ran through.

What a fool.

15
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 1:45pm

#9, WRD: The Saints training facility (and homes) are all in San Antonio. For the Baton Rouge games, they'll travel the night before, stay in a hotel, and then go back to San Antonio that night. I think the Baton Rouge games are going to give the largest amount of evidence as to whether or not the boost you get from home games is due to the fans, or due to the fact that you don't have to travel.

16
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 1:46pm

I also think Bettis should get in before Martin and Faulk. Mainly because I think Bettis will retire this year, whereas Martin and Faulk will probably play another year, frighteningly enough.

17
by Rob S (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 1:52pm

"Johnson got one foot down, then clearly an arm hit the white stripe outside the end zone before Johnson's second foot came down."
Actually agree with King that the refs got the replay right on the Cincy TD reversal.

What drove me nuts was the announcers who had no clue what was happening. Didn't even occur to them that the hand might have hit before the elbow did and when the call was reversed, they seemed genuinely befuddled.

18
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 1:53pm

Cross-referencing the Z-score article written this summer, I don't think Bettis has an impressive career, looking at the names on the list.

In fact I think it's a shame that Peter King would vote in Bettis as a RB, but he won't vote in Art Monk at WR because Monk wasn't flashy and didn't gain the big yards per catch. I think it's a decent comparison... possession RB to possession WR. Although WRs don't take nearly the pounding RBs do.

19
by MDZ (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 1:55pm

That may have been the worst MMQB I've ever read. He brought nothing to the table and ended it by saying that a beloved and revered musician is underrated. Pure crap King. I'm just hoping you phoned this article in after a long weekend at your alma mater.

20
by EJP (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:01pm

Haven't seen "House" yet. I too think King is serious, and that he has a weird fascination with this show.

Bettis is a class act, and he should and will go to the HOF. I feel the same about Faulk. When they get in is simply a matter of when they decide to hang it up.

21
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:03pm

Rob: Yah, I know what you mean. Everyone around me (all Bengals fans) were all saying "he's got control, what are you talking about, it doesn't move" whereas I was quietly whispering "one foot in bounds, one hand out of bounds". Smiled, chuckled, and turned back to the Eagles game when the refs agreed with me.

22
by KL (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:04pm

I liked how PK ripped LT (the original) for what goes on in Grand Theft Madden, but used the word 'pimp' to describe it.

Of course, middled aged, upper class white men shouldn't use the word pimp in any event.

23
by EJP (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:05pm

P.S. I just received a call from Ted Thompson in Green Bay. Apparently I am going to be starting at either RB or WR this weekend against the Bengals.

24
by zip (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:08pm

Of course, middled aged, upper class white men shouldn’t use the word pimp in any event.

Why the hell not?

25
by adwred (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:20pm

King is close to a lunatic... "Joni Mitchell. Vastly underrated in music history." WTF? Where is this coming from?

26
by James Gibson (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:24pm

Wow. That's quite a list Peter King says are the only players that belong in before Bettis. No Elway. No Marino. No Reggie White.

As for Faulk/Bettis/Martin, I think it's pretty tight, but Faulk is much higher in total yards from scrimmage even if he does trail both Bettis and Martin in rushing yards. He's 4th all time, only behind Walter Payton, Emmitt Smith, and Jerry Rice. He has also been to the Pro Bowl 7 times, Bettis 6, and Martin 5. Before last year, I probably would have said Bettis over Martin, but Martin's year was so good last year that I think it knocks him over Bettis. Bettis is slightly behind Martin in rushing yards but significantly behind in yards from scrimmage, and he entered the league in 1993, Martin 1995. Of course, I'm not sure I'd hold 1993 against anybody on offense. Bettis's 1429 rushing yards were good enough for 2nd to Emmitt Smith's 1486.

Not sure what chance the DVOA/DPAR stats have to back to 1993 since I think play-by-play logs only exist back to '95, but the overall raw offensive totals were significantly lower that year than they are now.

I think all 3 of them belong in. I would say Monk does to, but it is true that he was only named to 3 Pro Bowls and when you look at seasons in the top 10 (I'm using pro-football-reference.com for this), he only stands out in '84 and '85. Bettis and Martin have more spread out seasons where they standout and Faulk just had the stretch from 1998-2001 where was #1 or #2 in yards from scrimmage.

27
by EJP (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:27pm

Re: 26. Elway and Marino are already in the HOF.

28
by TomG (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:28pm

That Joe Crede’s really good

Glad to see it just isn’t football statistics King has an aversion to…

29
by Rodafowa (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:40pm

Re: 26

I'm not saying that Martin's head-and-shoulders over Bettis, or anything like that. I just don't see how, given that he's slightly better than the Bus in just about every possible category other than Pro Bowl appearances that Bettis' candidacy for the Hall can be considered superior to C-Mart's.

If the players surrounding Martin over the years had been consistantly and clearly better than the players surrounding Bettis, then I could see where the argument might be. But that really hasn't been the case so far as I can tell.

30
by Rodafowa (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:41pm

Erk. That first paragraph doesn't read terribly well.

"...given the fact that MARTIN is slightly better in every category other than Pro Bowls", natch.

31
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:43pm

When sportswriters engage in conversations with U.S. Senators, the destructive possibility exists that a critical mass of ignorance chained to logorrhea will be achieved, thus threatening the future existence of the universe. Thus, these parties should be prohibited by law from coming into contact with each other.

32
by Tim (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:46pm

I almost was right when I said the baseball game in Chicago would outscore the football game in Chicago on Sunday. World Series Game 2: 13 runs. Chicago-Baltimore: 16 points.

In other words, Peter King, you were wrong.

33
by Justus (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:47pm

James - aren't Elway and Marino already in? You might want to get caught up on current events :)

34
by Rob (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:54pm

"Goat of the Week

Dallas QB Drew Bledsoe. He's supposed to be a smart player and smart players don't throw sideline passes into traffic, allowing a tie game to become a loss instead of an overtime game."

I know PK has all these insider contacts and info concerning the league, but doesn't every NFL fan know that Bledsoe is clutch when it comes to the late game interception or fumble?!? The remarkable thing is that Drew hasn't done it more this season (yet).

And re: the House, Joni Mitchell, Starbucks, etc, references... I think the real people to blame are King's editors. SI seems to have given him carte blanche to write whatever the hell he wants. I'm too lazy to look up old PK articles and see if his strange tangents have gotten worse over the years, but in my memory they have....

35
by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:55pm

All the talk about the reversal of Chad Johnson's TD just re-inforces how imperfect replay is. I am of the opinion that his one foot is already touching the ground when he makes the catch, making it a TD when the next foot came down before his hand. Then, the original foot touches the ground (again) after the hand, but since it was already touching the ground when the catch was made this shouldn't matter.
I used to be a big believer in replay, but just find it a nuisance now, and it seems to generate more controversy than no replay. Especially if we have dumb rules like having to have timeouts to challenge a play. Did everybody catch the end of the Saints-Rams game?

36
by MDS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 3:06pm

Justus, you might want to read what was written before you criticize someone who comments on it. King listed seven players, three of whom are in the Hall of Fame, who he says have been more deserving of that honor in the last 22 years than Bettis. In other words, King is saying Bettis is the eighth-best player of the last 22 years. James listed some players who he thinks are better than Bettis but King, apparently, does not. I agree completely with James. You're free to disagree, but from your comment it's clear that your disagreement is simply an attempt to be disagreeable and not an attempt to engage in a thoughtful conversation.

37
by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 3:19pm

I love the Bus so I can understand King's man crush on him but his comment is a little weird. It's not like they have different sections of the hall of fame for really good HOFers, marginal HOFers and guys that got in because the voters are clueless. If you're an HOFer you're an HOFer, you can't be a little bit pregnant and you can't kind of be in the hall of fame. I don't think that anyone doubts Bettis, Martin and Faulk should be in the Hall of Fame abd I seriously doubt that balloters will only be given the option to vote for 2 of the 3. Does PK realize that Munoz, Montana, LT and Sanders are in the HOF? They shouldn't get into the hall before Bettis, they are in fact in the Hall before him.

As for those who think Art Monk is getting jobbed, care to share your thoughts on Harold Jackson? There are only 19 modern era receivers in the hall so someone has to get left out.

38
by Aaron Boden (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 3:25pm

Just so everyone knows, PK is right on about House. I started watching it over the summer and it is Hi-freakin-larious.

39
by James Gibson (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 3:29pm

Re #27 and 33:

You know, "Montana is already in" was actually my first instinct as a reply to #3. Then I noticed that of the players listed there, so were Barry Sanders, Anthony Munoz, and Lawrence Taylor. That's when I read King's article to discover what he was saying that he really thinks only those players on that list deserve enshrinement more than Bettis (or "before" in a different sense than just time-wise.)

40
by rk (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 3:42pm

Bettis' 4 yard carry that King describes may have been the greatest 4 yard non-TD run I have ever seen.

41
by Adam T (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 3:44pm

#35 - I wish more people thought this way about replay. There's going to be controversy no matter what, and I'll take the way that involves less stoppages of play. See also: the Marcus Pollard non-TD, and that playoff game with the ruling that rhymes with "duck." If I was running the NFL, there'd be no such thing as "failed challenges" - either the call is unqeustionably wrong (and then overturned), or you trust the ref's judgement on a close play. Some of the worst calls can't even be overturned under the current rules. End replay rant.

42
by zip (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 3:59pm

#41

Take away replay and you have to live with blantantly wrong calls, like the Jets TD against the Seahawks several years ago that was nowhere near a TD.

Because we can all see the blantantly wrong calls replayed on TV, people know when horrible calls are made and I think anything that can limit that happening (like replay) is a good thing. Plus I love yelling at the TV "oh my god, you HAVE to challenge THAT."

Aside: The new comments are much worse than the old system, for some reason line breaks aren't converted to html line breaks (at least in preview), which makes formatting your comments a pain. At least the preview reminds me to go back and add HTML to make it readable.

43
by Tim (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 4:02pm

re: #41

There's going to be controversy, but I'd take the system that results in fewer instances of controversy i.e. the one that takes most of the wrong calls and gets them right, and not the system that does nothing to correct the wrong calls. Is it really the end of the world when a crucial ruling gets reviewed and the game stops for a couple of minutes? Answer: no.

Please stop blaming replay for what happened with the tuck rule (I'm an Eagles fan, so I have no stake in the Pats or the Raiders.) The rule was absolutely clear, and the referees applied it correctly. Replay doesn't even come into the equation.

44
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 4:19pm

Re #35 & 41: Had Haslett not challenged (and lost) a play in the 3rd Quarter, he would have had a timeout and been able to challege the end of game play. So if we're going to blame somebody for the loss, the blame falls first (as usual) at the feet of Jim Haslett.
The play in question:

2-10-STL 17 (8:43) 11-J.Martin pass incomplete to 82-C.Cleeland (29-J.Bullocks). Play Challenged by NO and Upheld. (Timeout #1 by NO.)

45
by zip (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 4:30pm

#43:

Wait... they challenged an incomplete pass? Did they think it was an interception or a fumble or something?

46
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 4:34pm

37
He's probably getting jobbed too.

I'd like to request a similar article on WRs as the one written for RBs after Emmitt Smith retired.

The comparison adjusted the numbers for era, and included single seasons and careers with adjusted and unadjusted comparisons.

47
by James (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 4:54pm

HOF is subjective honor to receive.

IMO, you should be one of the best 1% of your era at your position.

As a skins fan I agree with the Monk/Bettis comparison. While, I've been surprised that Monk is not in the HOF looking back I can't say I think he was one of the best 1% of his time.

Running back is an entirely different position to "grade" career stats. If you were tough and durable enough to accumulate then you deserve to be a hall of famer. If you can be a feature back for 8 plus years in the NFL you should probably be HOF just on that merrit. Since the average career span of a back is about 4 years.

At 26, I can see how short the life span of a running back is. 5 years ago these were the top rushers in the NFL
E James 1709
R Smith 1521
E George 1509
M Anderson 1487
C Dillon 1435
F Taylor 1399
J Lewis 1364
M Faulk 1359
J Bettis 1341
S Davis 1318

here are the receiving leaders
M Muhammad 102
M Harrison 102
E McCaffrey 101
R Smith 100
T Owens 97
C Carter 96
K McCardell 94
J Horn 94
E Moulds 94
T Gonzalez 93

O running backs are as effective as they were 5 years ago. I would venture to say that all the receivers who aren't retired except r. smith are still as effective as they were 5 years ago. The the bus and C. martin are still carrying the load for their teams after 10 years in the league is a testament to their heart and ability and they should both easily be hall of famers.

48
by Parker (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 5:19pm

Two things:

I'm not sure what the definition of 'underrated' is or what standards King is using. If he means that the masses of uninformed sheep aren't out there bleating away in constant praise of Joni Mitchell, then I guess he is right. If he means that Entertainment Tonight doesn't run a story every evening about her latest bowel movement in between the one about Demi Moore's fall vacation and Jennifer Aniston's hair, then I guess he is right again. If, however, he thinks that people who know a bit more about music and art than just the current top 40 or a list of 1980's one hit wonders don't know that Joni Mitchell kicks ass, then he is hanging out with the wrong people.

Not being an expert in the history of instant replay, I'm not sure what it's original intent was. I always thought it was to overturn obviously bad calls that had resulted from an official flat out missing the call. Things that you look at once in slowed down replay and say, "Oh, that was the wrong call." Clearly that isn't the way it is used and I have no idea how you alter the rules so that it makes some kind of sense. The frame by frame review of calls is maddening. That is all.

49
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 5:34pm

Re #48: Internet voting. Cause nobody knows more about football then the fans, right? Give every football fan watching the game at home a set of buttons to push. After every call by the refs, a replay is shown and the fans can vote if the call was correct or not. If enough vote against it (say 75%), the call is over-turned.

50
by Richie (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 5:55pm

I like how only 1 defensive player merits King's list of top-8 players of the last 20 years.

51
by Clod (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 5:59pm

O running backs are as effective as they were 5 years ago ???

Here's last years # for the ones on the '00 list

Curtis Martin 1697 on pace for 1154 in '05
Corey Dillon 1635 injured so far.
Edge James 1548 on pace for 1830 05

Fred Taylor 1224
Jerome Bettis 947 but 3.8 ypc in 2000 it was also 3.8 ypc

so that is 5 out of ten that I would say are as effective as 2000

52
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 6:23pm

Related to the point made in #48, all of the replay systems (whether you're talking about college or the NFL) use the phrase "indisputable video evidence" - that "indisputable" evidence is required to overturn a call using replay.

Indisputable to me, means that you maybe take a few seconds to see all the camera angles available, find the one that gives the best view, and then after one or two views (maybe in slow motion, but not frame-by-frame) one knows that the call was incorrect. Maybe they then have to take another 30 seconds to ask what the line of scrimmage was prior to the call (if the ball is to be moved) and that's it.

If it takes 3 or 4 minutes to review a play (and in college, sometimes 5!), watching a clip over and over and over, then I find it doubtful that it can truly be said to be "indisputable" video evidence. If it's indisputable, someone should be able to see it and say "Oh yeah." If it has to be advanced frame-by-frame, then there are likely other factors involved (different referees give different meaning to possession, or what have you) and in most cases the call on the field should stand.

No more 4-minute reviews!

T.

53
by Steve (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 7:06pm

I know a couple of people have touched on it, but given the contaxt of King's remarks on Bettis and the HOF, I can only assume he means that he thinks those are the only seven players more deserving of enshrinement than Bettis.

I hardly know where to begin. John Elway? Dan Marino? Reggie %^&^#!@ White?? Rod Woodson? Mike Singletary? WALTER PAYTON??? Ronnie Lott? Bruce Smith?

And that's just retired players who are no-doubt-about-it better players than Bettis. I can't believe they give this guy a HOF vote.

Maybe that's not what he meant. I can only hope so.

54
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 7:33pm

It's been said several times already, but Bettis the 8th-best player of the last 22 years? Wow.

"13. Cincinnati (5-2). Almost Halloween and the Bengals haven't beaten a team with a winning record."

And your point is....?

I think Matt Birk does have a lot of common sense. That is, he's just said what everyone else in the freaking world has already said about that situation.

I can't believe how annoying that travel situation was. I mean, what lousy airline doesn't have a direct Davis-Fargo flight?

Who does King think he is, giving Norv Turner advice? Doesn't he know that Turner is a super-genius on a level never previously seen? In fact, I think Turner should go in the Hall before Bettis.

What message were the Texans trying to send exactly? "Our line can run-block well but couldn't pass-block Chuck Bednarik's grandmother, and we're playing a team with an incredible pass rush and suspect run defense"? How is that Carr's fault exactly?

Yeah, what a shock that someone would make a remark about an easy target, and a politician would agree. I bet that conversation had a lot of substance, deep analysis of the actual problems and their causes, advantages and problems of federalism, plans for how to actually improve things, etc.

If I had a big HDTV, the last thing I'd waste it on is baseball. It does wonders for hockey, and football looks great on it, but does baseball benefit from it more than, say, a sitcom? Who really needs higher definition Torre nose hair?

All the Joni Mitchell fans should send him angry emails for insulting her by calling her underrated.

55
by Vash (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 8:21pm

Jerome Bettis is not going to the Hall of Fame because he is the #5 rusher of all time.
Jerome Bettis is going to the Hall of Fame because he is 250 pounds and is still the #5 rusher of all time. He proved that 250-pound backs can play with the little guys. He proved that 250-pound backs can be productive, that they can stay healthy, that they can have longevity. Bettis was supposed to hit a wall when he turned 30... Where's that wall now? Jerome Bettis has set a precedent, he has showed the world that big backs can be mobile, fast, pick up yards. He has done what nobody like him has ever done before. He is the groundbreaker for big backs in the NFL of today.
Bettis has bruised opponents while staying healthy himself. He has played 12 full seasons and missed 12 total games in those seasons... most backs can't stay nearly that healthy.
Jerome Bettis showed the world that a 250-pound man can do more than simply run over defenders... he runs around them. He jukes. He cuts outside. And he picks up yardage on every play.
These days you hear so much about these backs that pick up 5 yards per carry. That's not what the running game is supposed to do. People rave about guys who break a run for 20 yards, get stuffed two straight plays, and pick up a big per-carry average. But now you're stuck in third-and-10. That's what the passing game is supposed to do. Passing is what gets you big per-play averages with the penalty of inconsistency. The running game should be something you can rely on to get 2 and 3 yards every single play. Put in LaDanian Tomlinson on third-and-2, watch him convert two of five and pick up 25 total yards. Then put in Jerome Bettis and watch him get 4 of 5 of them. I watched Bettis just claw his way to the first down on that third-and-three after he was stopped cold after a yard, and I thought, "That's what a back is supposed to do. That's what makes a great running game."
But the greatest testament to Bettis's ability even this late in his career is in the goal-line passes the Steelers continue to throw so successfully. Four times now, the Steelers have come out in the Jumbo formation on goal-to-go from inside the 2, and the play-fake to Bettis has gotten so much respect receivers are left wide open in the end zone. When the defense respects the halfback so much that 10 guys are fighting tooth-and-nail to stop the run that isn't there, that shows just how great the run is.

I had an vastly better essay on the greatness of Jerome Bettis, but it was killed by a glitch in the new post-review system.

56
by Theo (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 8:22pm

The Bus is The Bus.
He's the only personification of his nicknamme and please don't look any further for someone to take a nickname like that.
Just nod to some one who took the work and load and pounding and punishment The Bus took on his ride.
He got all my respect.

57
by pcs (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 8:34pm

No more 4-minute reviews!

Amen to that. After the Johnson catch/no-catch, I was thinking that what sucked the wind out of the Bengals' sails on that drive wasn't that the TD was overturned. It was that they had to stand around with their thumbs up their asses while the ref was at the peep show for 5 minutes. You could feel their momentum bleeding off. Plus, I too was going Randy-Cross-eyed from hearing the boys in the booth going on and on and totally missing what the challenge was about.

58
by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 9:11pm

re #44: but that's precisely why I don't like this system. It shouldn't be the coach's responsibility to get the call on the field right. There's no way that Haslett could have foreseen that he'd need to save a timeout because the most crucial call in the game was going to come at the two-minute mark.

For those who have been around long enough to remember the old system, seriously what was wrong with it? (or, at least, what was worse about it than this system) The old system where the officials initiated a replay if the call was too close for their comfort. I agree that nobody wants to see a vital game decided by a call which is clearly wrong on replay, but I don't feel like this system removes the danger of this happening (again, see the end of the Saints-Rams game for an example)

59
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 9:23pm

King ripping the Packer running game with no Ahman Green and no Najeh Davenport is pretty weak. This team is in free-fall. Why mock them on the way down from the 50th floor?

60
by rk (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 10:04pm

Maybe it took a while for the ref to call, but I thought the Chad Johnson no catch was obvious as soon as they showed the first slo-mo replay. You watch his feet and only 1 of them touches the ground before he goes out. There's no way an official could see that full speed, so they go to the booth and get it right. It shouldn't have taken that long though.

61
by James (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 10:12pm

Edge James-knee injury, cant get in the end zone against anyone but houston consistently

Curtis Martin- looks like on his last leg

Bettis- too old to do it for more than 8 games at a time

corey dillon- looked very old so far this year

--------------------------
Most on the list are still very good but arent nearly the players they were 5 years ago..thats not to say that some arent still very good

62
by Justus (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 10:23pm

MDS - I had hoped the smiley would have indicated I wasn't just trying to be an Internet Dick. I actually did read the article earlier in the day, a few hours before the above comments, and had forgotten about King's broken use of English; my apologies James.

63
by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 10:38pm

I for one, had no problem with the old replay system, but then, I didn't start watching football until after it had begun.

64
by calig23 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 11:00pm

Re:#55

Excellent post. I don't think I can add anything to it.

65
by Stevie (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2005 - 12:00am

Im not one to complain about King but his rip on LT for promoting NFL blitz makes no sense. Why not rip the league for giving an exclusive license to EA and killing off their competition.. Oh thats right I remember SI pimping Madden like crazy earlier in the year. Blitz looks like way more fun then the same game EA have been churning out thelast three years

66
by Malene, cph, dk (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2005 - 9:14am

re: #55, 64...
uhm.... are you really sure the goal of the running game is to pick up 2 or 3 yards per play? I think FOs succes rates might disagree. So, you're stuck in 3rd & 5, what then?
I agree that Bettis had a few beauties in there sunday; but also just enough runs to show that the Steeler running game would be too easy to stop without a change of pace-back like Parker.
And before we get too carried away here, Bettis had just 13 carries for a 4,3 avg while Parker went 18 for 131.

Re: 3,4 - Yeah, esp. for the whole career, can't see how anyone could argue Bettis over Faulk or Martin. - Faulk: 18806 yards (run+rec) for a 112,6 yrd avg, Martin: 17058 for a 105,3 yrd avg. Bettis? 14823, avg: 81,1 yrds. And actually Bettis has fumbled the most of the three, though he's no more the fumbling machine he was in the mid-90's.

67
by Vash (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2005 - 9:32am

uhm…. are you really sure the goal of the running game is to pick up 2 or 3 yards per play? I think FOs succes rates might disagree. So, you’re stuck in 3rd & 5, what then?

How many teams have you seen call a straight running play on third and 5?

And before we get too carried away here, Bettis had just 13 carries for a 4,3 avg while Parker went 18 for 131.
Did you see the game? Parker's runs came mainly on long bursts; Bettis got the hard yards, and although his average was lower, he gained yardage every time he touched the ball. That is KEY.
If you want 7 yards per play, throw the ball. Picking up 21, 0, and 0 is the passing game's job. Balance requires you have a play that will gain yards every time... that is the purpose of the running game.

68
by Parker (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2005 - 10:42am

Last night on the Bollinger pass that looked like it might have been a fumble: The first replay instantly shows that his arm was coming forward yet they spent the entire 2 minutes they are allowed under the hood. What was he looking at? Let's keep it moving, guys.

69
by Malene, cph, dk (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2005 - 4:55pm

re 67:
yes I saw the game... Mainly on long bursts?
Parker had 3 runs of 8+ yards - 13,20 and 37
Bettis had 2 - 10 and 16. And no, he didn't gain yardage every time he touched the ball, he failed twice to do that - just like Parker did.

Let's break it down:
2 or fewer yards: Parker 4 runs, Bettis 5 runs. ---
3-5 yards: Parker 6 runs, Bettis 6 runs. ---
6-8 yards: Parker 5 runs, Bettis 0 runs. ---
8+ yards: Parker 3 yards, Bettis 2 runs. ---

Can't see how Bettis had the better game, or more valuable. I know the announcers sounded like that, but I sure didn't see it.

70
by Vash (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2005 - 5:04pm

Edge James-knee injury, cant get in the end zone against anyone but houston consistently

Curtis Martin- looks like on his last leg

Bettis- too old to do it for more than 8 games at a time

corey dillon- looked very old so far this year

Most on the list are still very good but arent nearly the players they were 5 years ago..thats not to say that some arent still very good

Edgerrin James currently leads the league in rushing yards with 801 (114 ypg) and has a 4.9 average. Last year he got 4.6 yards per carry. Of all places, this (FO) should be the one that tells you touchdowns aren't important, especially on the pass-driven Colts.
5 years ago (2000): James averaged 4.4 ypc, less than this season or last season.
Conclusion: Bullshit.

Curtis Martin this season: 3.4 ypc, mostly due to a passing game that has gone down the crapper.
Last season: 4.6 ypc
5 years ago (2000): 3.8 ypc, lower than any number since, except this half-season.
Conclusion: Bullshit.

Jerome Bettis this season: 3.4 ypc behind a line with a brand-new right side on limited use due to calf injury and Willie Parker. Had 30 total rushes in Weeks 5 and 7. Steelers have run almost exclusively when Bettis is in the backfield, and he usually comes in at the close, when teams know the Steelers will run on every play, making this number much better than it looks.
Last season: 3.8 ypc in 15 games, never injured. Started slowly, with 1.7 ypc in his first 5 games, then exploded back to old form with 4.1 ypc for the rest of the season with more than 23 carries per game.
5 years ago (2000): 3.8 ypc in 22 carries per game.
Conclusion: Bullshit.

Corey Dillon this year: 3.4 ypc with an injury-riddled offensive line
Last year: 4.7 ypc in his best year since his rookie season.
5 years ago (2000): 4.6 ypc in his third-best season behind this and his rookie year.
Conclusion: Bullshit.

71
by Vash (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2005 - 5:19pm

Re:69

Bettis's runs before the point at which the Steelers ran on every play (and thus the box was usually stacked with 9 men):
1-10: 3 yards
2-7: 10 yards, FD
1-G(7): 5 yards
1-10: 5 yards
2-5: 3 yards
3-2: 16 yards, FD
2-7: 1 yard

Success Rate before breakpoint: 71.4%

72
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2005 - 5:42pm

I'll take the current replay system as long as they modify it like this: put a timer on the replay viewer itself, kind of like those places where you can watch ... uh, anyway, so that the viewer shuts off after 60 seconds. Look at all the angles you want, but if you can't determine in a minute that the call was clearly wrong, it stands.

I totally agree that the replay system has been changed - it's clearly not used to reverse calls any more. Instead, it's being used to determine the "correct" call, which was not its intended purpose.

The worst part is when the officials huddle to determine the correct call, make a call, it gets challenged, and then the referee goes off on his own and determines the "correct" call. What's the point of huddling if that doesn't decide the call?

73
by Michael David Smith :: Wed, 10/26/2005 - 5:44pm

In his mailbag, King himself acknowledges he was wrong to list Bettis ahead of guys like Elway and Montana. So I guess that argument is over.