Yesterday, we took a look at the franchise leaders in various passing categories. Let’s do the same for running backs today. The first list shows the leaders in career rushing yards for each franchise; the last column shows the last year that running back played for that franchise:
Had I written this article last year, the top of the list would look a bit different. Joe Perry held the 49ers rushing record for over 60 years — I profiled Gore’s chase of Perry over at smartfootball last year — making it one of the oldest records in the NFL. The mantle has now been passed to Jim Brown; and even if Trent Richardson turns into a star, it will be a long time before we can discuss his odds of breaking the Browns franchise record. On the other hand, Adrian Peterson is less than 100 yards from passing Robert Smith, a record he could set in week one of the 2012 season.
Sam Cunningham broke Jim Nance’s rushing mark in 1981; no Patriot has seriously challenged him since Curtis Martin left for the Jets. But the oldest record in the AFC East belongs to the Dolphins. Ricky Williams came within a few hundreds yards of Csonka, but that record looks set to stand for the foreseeable future. With a big season, Michael Turner could vault from 5th to 1st place on the Falcons list. He trails Riggs by 1350 yards, and would pass Jamal Anderson, Warrick Dunn, and William Andrews along the way.
The next list shows the career leaders in rushing touchdowns for each team.
|PHI||69||Steve Van Buren||1951|
Steve Van Buren has held the Eagles rushing touchdown record for over 60 years; Brian Westbrook came close, but the record is safe unless and until LeSean McCoy rushes for another 42 touchdowns. Almost all of the long-standings records were set by Hall of Famers, with one exception.
Pete Johnson played fullback for Ohio State alongside Archie Griffin, and was drafted by the Bengals in the second round of the 1977 draft. Johnson rushed for double digit touchdowns three times in seven seasons with the Bengals. Since then, Rudi Johnson (48), Corey Dillon (45), James Brooks (37) and Larry Kinnebrew (37) have chased, but failed to catch, the former Bengals star. With no clear threat, this record could last for a surprisingly long time.
In one of the lesser publicized stories last year, Brandon Jacobs’ last regular season score with the Giants gave him the franchise’s rushing touchdown record. That’s a bit of Giants tradition: Joe Morris set the franchise mark with 48 rushing scores; Rodney Hampton managed 49 touchdowns with New York and no more, leaving him as the record holder until Tiki Barber ran for 55 touchdowns with Big Blue. What about the single-season rushing leaders?
With the switch to the 16-game season starting in 1978 and the focus on one running back in the ’90s and ’00s, most of the single season rushing records have been set relatively recently. Only nine single-season rushing marks were set before 1986, while more than half of the records have been set in the last decade.
Only the Bengals have never had a 1500-yard rusher, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis isn’t likely to change that in 2012. While it’s extremely impressive that Simpson, Brown, and Payton have been able to hold on to their franchise rushing records for decades, note that all three set their mark during fourteen game seasons. In fact, those three actually rank 1-2-3 in single-season rushing yards per game, ahead of Eric Dickerson’s 1984 campaign when he set the single-season rushing record with 2,105 yards.
Let’s close today with a look at each team’s single-season rushing TD leaders.
|ARI||14||John David Crow||1962|
I doubt most Cardinals fans could name John David Crow, much less guess that he is the only Cardinal to rush for 14 touchdowns in a season. Crow set the mark 50 years ago, only a couple of years after the franchise had begun playing in St. Louis. You might be a bit surprised to see that the 49ers have never had a player rush for more than 10 touchdowns before. Gore shares his spot on the single-season list with five other 49ers who have rushed for exactly 10 touchdowns in a season: Derek Loville, Ricky Watters, J.D. Smith, Joe Perry (twice), and Billy Kilmer. In 1984, James Wilder rushed 407 times for the Bucs, and gained 1,544 yards and 13 touchdowns. That year he also caught 85 passes, making him the swiss-army knife of the 6-10 Buccaneers.