By Tim Graham
Sorry if I'm late to the party -- it's not unusual for me, but I generally make up for it by hanging around waaaaaaayyyyy too long -- but I just found this interesting piece from Football Outsiders senior writer Mike Tanier.
In it, Tanier uses metrics to rate the top five Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins running backs all-time.
The Buffalo list:
1. O.J. Simpson
2. Thurman Thomas
3. Joe Cribbs
4. Fred Jackson
5. Jim Braxton
What stood out to me was Tanier's analysis of Thomas' career, calling him one of the "all-time hang-around champs" for, essentially, padding his numbers while his career was depreciating.
Thomas started scoring negative DVOA scores (Football Outsiders' standard measurement to compare production to a statistical average) in 1993, when his average dropped from 4.8 yards to 3.7 yards a carry.
"In terms of career value, I don't want to erase 1994 and beyond, but when comparing all-time greats you have to be a little cruel. Thomas just wasn't doing much to move the needle on the Hall of Famer scale after 1994."
If you're a stats guy, then this article will be worthwhile. If you'd rather say "Screw all you numbers dweebs," then you probably will give yourself a migraine by trying to comprehend the analysis.
Also of note is Braxton over Travis Henry, Marshawn Lynch, Willis McGahee and Antowain Smith. But Tanier offers very good reasons for that, too.