Can the same be said of the NFL running back? I am already sick of hearing the regurgitated MSM hogwash that running backs with too many carries in college will burn out faster in the NFL, despite the durability of youth and despite the COMPLETE LACK of evidence to support the claim. I don't want to call anyone out on the blogs but you know who you are, and you have been tossing that cookie with reckless abandon! Montee Ball won't last yadda yada, yes you all get my Michael Silver lapdog award of the week.
I think the way to have an intelligent conversation is to check out your claim before making it, and when you make a claim based on "common sense" how about backing that up with anything? I don't mean to be harsh but some of you making comments are inducing horrifying flashbacks of the DP. I love MHR's community and come here because of the knowledge and good conversation. How about we get over the whole I know more than everyone else complex and keep this place a great place for debate, learning, and fanatical love of our team?
Not much research has been done in the total number of carries a back can handle in a career, my guess is because every back is different. Wait did you hear that? Let me repeat myself for effect, every player is different. I did however find some good articles that strive to make the correlation between longevity and number of carries.
To begin with I would like to show a study done by Doug Drinen the article is here:
He is comparing relatively similar aged running backs with differences in work loads. His findings surprised him as they were counter intuitive.
The high mileage backs averaged 775 carries during the rest of their careers. The low mileage backs averaged 529.
As with many studies of this kind the variables outweigh the results, so you certainly can't say it is better to have more millage but it does go a long way to disprove that low millage is better, or that there is any correlation between career length and number of carries.
That is not to say that all is peachy in orangeville. In his next article on the subject since he could not prove high millage reduced production or longevity (in fact the opposite was shown), he chose to look at injuries after year's with a large number of carries here:
What he found is that the number of carries the previous year can lead to players being more injury prone the year after high number of carries. However it had nothing to do with the total number of carries over the life of the player.
In other words, Curtis Martin may have broken down in 2005 beyond what could be expected on age, due to workload over the second half of 2004, but I do not think what he did from 1995-2000 had any impact on whether he was going to break down or not. If Larry Johnson breaks down early in 2007, it will be because of what happened late in 2006, and have little to do with what happened late in 2005.
I found another article that backs up this claim, while showing that a choice few elite backs are completely immune to this effect (Eric Dickerson, Walter Payton, and LaDainian Tomlinson), of the most recent year's number of carries. From footballdocs.com here.
Very high workload (carries) in the previous season equals trouble, and the cut-off for danger is approximately 370 or more carries in a year, although your measure for concern should start at 350+ carries. At 370 or more carries, the engine has overheated, and you should proceed with extreme caution.
Obviously you can't just run these players into the ground and expect nothing to happen to them, yet even if you do they might break down for a year but usually bounce back after some time off (barring career ending injuries of course, we miss you TD!). Can we put this Montee Ball has too many carries talk to bed? Lets instead evaluate the pick based on production alone, he is a surprising find late in the second round considering he ran as much as any back in college and still managed to average 5.6 career YPC and as many touchdowns, last year, as anyone with that many carries (22 despite being the main threat on the team and therefore facing a stacked box). I think this year we will see enough PFM and other backs that we can reduce Montee's carries enough to avoid an injury this year. Let next year be Ball's true coming out party as the workhorse, I hope he will be a Bronco for a long time!
For an interesting exercise, I have included a few of this years harvest of collegiate backs with high carries so we can evaluate the research ourselves (from cbssports.com):
|Running Back Stats|
|Le'Veon Bell||Michigan State||13||382||1793||4.7||12||32||167||5.2||1|
|Antonio Andrews||Western Kentucky||13||304||1728||5.7||11||37||432||11.7||3|
|Kerwynn Williams||Utah State||13||218||1512||6.9||15||45||697||15.5||5|
|Zurlon Tipton||Central Michigan||13||252||1492||5.9||19||24||287||12.0||1|
|Robbie Rouse||Fresno State||13||282||1490||5.3||12||63||435||6.9||2|
So our newest Bronco seems to have just enough carries last year to be near the red but safe from the statistical monster under the bed (lets just hope he doesn't get voted to the cover of Madden). For Le'Veon Bell's sake I just hope the Steelers ease him into the position because having 382 carries last year he might blow out both knees!