NFL

Emmitt Smith was a schmoe that got lucky? WRONG!

7/16/11 in NFL   |   chevleclair   |   378 respect

Time to bring out the homophobes and ant-semites from New York, Philly, Washington, and Detroit. I'm going to give you the reason Emmitt Smith is better than Barry Sanders. This does not mean that Emmitt is a better overall running back, it just shows you why Emmitt is the all-time rushing leader, and Barry is not. The reasons are the following: durability and mental toughness, not because Barry had a lousy offensive line.

Let's discuss the last one first. (These stats are according to profootballreference.com). I decided to check both of them in the Barry vs Emmitt heyday, in the early to mid 1990's, when Dallas was winning their NFL championships, and Detroit was winning the NFC Central regularly. The numbers I checked kind of surprised me. I compared the two players with the second leading rusher on the team during those years, and decided to calculate their yards per carry. That's a measure of their offensive line's efficiency, right? In 1990, Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders both had tons of carries, and did very well in the yards per carry department, but their backups tell a story, too. Barry's backup averaged 7.7 yards per carry, and Emmitt's backup was 4.0. Both are great numbers, but there's a big gap, don't you think? Then you look up the ensuing years, and with the exception of 1991, Barry's backups far outpaced Emmit's. In 1991, Emmit's backups had a 5.3 to a 5.0 for Sanders, but let's look at 92 and '93. Barry's backups 6.2 and 4.6, to Emmitt's 3.6 and 3.6. Looking on from that, Barry's backups would gain amazing ypc, to Emmitt's medicore ypc. So, for those football insiders, the "offensive line" theory, is wrong.

Durability. According to TheFreeDictionary.com, the definitions of durability are: 1. Capable of withstanding wear or decay. 2. Able to perform over a long period. Sanders' durability is one that is of wonderful proportions. Emmitt's was legendary.Sanders, according to NFL.com missed a mind-boggling six games his entire career, but Emmitt missed 5. I don't care how good your teammates are, unless you run to the end zone untouched every carry, you're going to get pounded and tackled and beaten. That will take its toll. Let's also take into account that in Sanders' later years, the Lions would take him out in goal line situations, given his propensity to take losses, explaining Emmit's 169 TD's to Barry's 99.

Mental toughness. Not every year Dallas had Emmitt was a Super Bowl or a playoff year. Some of those teams were equally bad, or worse than Barry's consistent playoff teams in the 90's. After another rebuilding year, Sanders quit. Just went. Emmitt held on, and only left reluctantly when Jerry Jones refused to sign him. Both ran their hearts out every game, but it can wear on you, and Barry, while extremely tough, wasn't quite as tough as Smith was.

People ask me if I'd take Emmitt over Barry from the beginning, and I would answer yes, every time. Emmitt was a better pass receiver, pass blocker, and was more of a team player than Sanders was.I never saw Sanders pull a Walter Payton and crush a bliting linebacker or safety, and I never saw him make a tough sideline catch with a safety hanging off of his back. While Sanders was more spectacular to watch, Emmitt was more substance. Cut away your team bias, and  actually look at the numbers in front of you.
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7/18/11   |   kobe_lova   |   62383 respect

I hate stuff like this. It's hard to compare when Sanders didn't play nearly as long Smith did, they played on different teams, and had different offensive game plans. Ugh. Player to player, I guess the question would be if they switched backfields from 1989-1998, which would have the better numbers? Would they both still make the Pro Bowl as many times? How many rings between them? I just don't know. I dug them both.

7/18/11   |   chevleclair   |   378 respect

I've never stated at all that Dallas had an inferior offensive line to Detroit's. What I've been trying to say is that Detroit's offensive line at that time was better than everyone gave them credit for. I'm also trying to state that while the Triplets were amazing in that era, Detroit had plenty of talent around Sanders. We're not talking about Payton's late 70's Bears, or OJ Simpson's early Buffalo Bills teams.

7/18/11   |   jaysinw   |   5039 respect

chevleclair wrote:
The Lions have won one playoff game since Bobby Layne. Can you guess which team they defeated? If you guessed the Dallas Cowboys, you would be correct. The Lions' offensive line was not that horrible. Let's look at the '95 Lions, with Scott Mitchell, Herman Moore, and Brett Perriman, who played along Barry Sanders. Dallas had Michael Irvin and Jay Novacek. Scott Mitchell threw for over 4000 yards, Moore had over 1500 yards receiving, and Perriman had over 1000. Compare them Aikman's 3000, irvin's 1500, and Jay novacek with-700 yards. According to Warren Sapp, the Lions' offensive line was non-existent, and the Cowboys' line blocked so well that even my pre-school aged son could run through it. The Lions' offensive line, led by All-Pro Lomas Brown, pro-bowler Kevin Glover, and veteran journeyman Dave Lutz were a formidable unit in that year, and in many years.

Come on Cowboys were led by all pro

LT Mark Tuinei 36 13 15  
LG Nate Newton* 35 10 16    
C Ray Donaldson* 38 16 16   Baltimore Colts / 2nd / 32nd pick / 1980
RG Larry Allen*+ 25 2 16   Dallas Cowboys / 2nd / 46th pick / 1994
RT Erik Williams*+
and they had another all pro center prior to Donaldson. No way the Lions offensive line could complete with that. Again Smith was great, but lets be honest he played for better talented teams. Take nothing away from him he still would have grain yards on others teams, but he would have taken more beatens too.

7/18/11   |   jaysinw   |   5039 respect

Come on now, you are not going sit and say that the Offensive line was not better for the Cowboys. I will not take nothing away from Smith, yes there are years he had more carries, then there are years Barry did. Barry not only had a decent line he did not have a guy like Moose who would block for him which open up a lot of holes, after the O line had all ready made the push. Its a great topic and people see it different just as people will debate and never come with a true answer who is the best QB.

7/17/11   |   chevleclair   |   378 respect

Dream_Machine wrote:
Likeable Arguments... But Seriously, Sanders Played For The Lions.... Period!

The Lions have won one playoff game since Bobby Layne. Can you guess which team they defeated? If you guessed the Dallas Cowboys, you would be correct. The Lions' offensive line was not that horrible. Let's look at the '95 Lions, with Scott Mitchell, Herman Moore, and Brett Perriman, who played along Barry Sanders. Dallas had Michael Irvin and Jay Novacek. Scott Mitchell threw for over 4000 yards, Moore had over 1500 yards receiving, and Perriman had over 1000. Compare them Aikman's 3000, irvin's 1500, and Jay novacek with-700 yards. According to Warren Sapp, the Lions' offensive line was non-existent, and the Cowboys' line blocked so well that even my pre-school aged son could run through it. The Lions' offensive line, led by All-Pro Lomas Brown, pro-bowler Kevin Glover, and veteran journeyman Dave Lutz were a formidable unit in that year, and in many years.

7/17/11   |   BenSullivan   |   96 respect

 Good article. I like the idea of comparing the Yards per Carry of their backups as a way to judge the offensive line, but you don't mention how many carries the backups got every year. If I remember correctly (and I'm getting old so who knows if I'm right here) both of these players took the vast majority of carries for their teams during their prime years. That would mean any per carry average for the backups would not have enough data to be a good indicator of the effectiveness of the backups. I also agree with the argument that Emmitt's intangibles like leadership and toughness need to be considered, football is the ultimate team game, so how you affect your teammates is important. Overall good work here.




7/17/11   |   hudgeliberal   |   2 respect

 When the game was on the line during playoff time..no back that I would rather have than Emmitt..he would get you those 4-5 yards almost every down. Sanders had games where he would have 18 rushes for 20 yards etc. Never for Smith,if you give him the ball 20 times you knew you would get 60-80 yards no matter how good the defense was. He was just a workhorse that played through injury and would always get the tough yards. I love Barry too but give me Smith anyday.

7/17/11   |   richard_cranium   |   17683 respect

kramer wrote:
Let's also take into account that Barry walked away from the game and retired early because he didn't want to risk it anymore.  Meanwhile, Emmitt purposely stayed in Arizona after he was a shell of what he was with the Cowboys solely so he could break the all-time rushing record.  I think you can make a great case for both players, and both deserve their place in the HOF without question.  I don't think you can say Barry wasn't as "tough" because he left the game.  He felt as though his heart wasn't in it anymore, and left the money on the table and walked away.  That doesn't make him any less of a man, which seems to be where you're going with that paragraph, and I will venture to say I'm one of many who would disagree with that argument.

Aside from my own opinion, thank you for the contributions!  Is this the first article you've had published on our front page?  If yes, congrats, it's very well-written and I hope this can lead to a very good discussion.

 Emmitt had the rushing record before he went to Arizona. He broke it on Sunday October 27, 2002, as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. They were playing the Seattle Seahawks in Texas Stadium.

7/17/11   |   chevleclair   |   378 respect

I actually state that Barry was tough. I just see this horrific talk about how Emmitt was not even that good. The fact that he had more carries than Sanders strengthens the durability argument.

7/16/11   |   jaysinw   |   5039 respect

See I cannot agree with who is tougher. Sanders knew in his heart it was time to walk away that is noty weak. He could have went to a winning team if it was only about winning. Both were great backs, but played the game different. As for you going with Yard per carry. The Cowboys backups had a lot more touches which would bring down their average. As for Detriot had Rivers as the only one to have a decent amount of touches till Sanders retired. I am not a fan of the Cowboys or Lions, but I will admit when Barry and Emmit played I did watch the more Cowboys and Lions games.

7/16/11   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

Let's also take into account that Barry walked away from the game and retired early because he didn't want to risk it anymore.  Meanwhile, Emmitt purposely stayed in Arizona after he was a shell of what he was with the Cowboys solely so he could break the all-time rushing record.  I think you can make a great case for both players, and both deserve their place in the HOF without question.  I don't think you can say Barry wasn't as "tough" because he left the game.  He felt as though his heart wasn't in it anymore, and left the money on the table and walked away.  That doesn't make him any less of a man, which seems to be where you're going with that paragraph, and I will venture to say I'm one of many who would disagree with that argument.

Aside from my own opinion, thank you for the contributions!  Is this the first article you've had published on our front page?  If yes, congrats, it's very well-written and I hope this can lead to a very good discussion.

7/16/11   |   Dream_Machine   |   13450 respect

Likeable Arguments... But Seriously, Sanders Played For The Lions.... Period!