Dual Running Backs in the 2010 NFL Season: The Strategies Behind the Timeshare

Over the last couple of seasons, the transition from a one running back set to a two running back set has come into full effect.  The use of the West Coast spread offense contributed to it, as well as the extended games and stunning numbers of injuries to running backs.  For this season, a high number of ankle injuries have sidelined  running backs. San Francisco 49ers Frank Gore being the most recent victim. Coming to the close of the regular season, the strategies have changed for the use of running backs in their respective formations.

One-back Set Variants


Minnesota VikingsAdrian Peterson is the best example of this.  He is more of a power back than speed, although he shares qualities of both.  He uses his power to break through and find holes and uses his speed once upon the flats.


The Denver Broncos Knoshown Moreno is the best example of this.  Due to nature of the spread offense implemented by the Broncos, Knoshown does not receive much in terms of carries, but he’s an equal threat as a receiver. The Philadelphia Eagles LeSean McCoy also falls in this category.

Two Running Back Set – Long Yardage and Goal Line Set Variants

Power First, Speed Second

The New York Giants Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw is the most current example of this.  Whether Bradshaw can recover his starting job by the end of the season after his case of fumbles, it remains to be seen.

Speed First, Power Second

Kansas City Chiefs Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones are the best examples of this currently.

Speed Set Duo

Detroit Lions running backs originally consisted of Javhid Best and Kevin Smith, and these two did demonstrate the use of this set, until they both fell to injury.  This is not a frequent set used in the NFL, but somewhat often in college football. 

Heavy Set Duo

This pairing of the Chicago Bears Cedric Benson and Thomas Jones was the last example of this, when Rex Grossman was under the helm.  Not too many NFL teams implement this due to the change to West Coast offense and the quick pacing in professional football.  However, in college football, the Navy Midshipmen are the best example of this, and they have been relatively successful in doing so.


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