Some pet peeves:
1. Local Sports announcers who don't know anything about sports.
2. The practice of calling every recently completed sporting event or athlete the best or worst of all time. Example: "Michael Phelps is the greatest athlete of all time in failing to spark a compelling storyline from dogged reporters."
3. People that walk into a subway car before allowing you the chance to walk out of the subway. These people deserve a special circle in hell. Or at least a stray elbow or shoulder.
4. Forced introductions to columns.
This was originally going to the beginning to a list of storylines about the 2008 season that drive me crazy. While that column may come eventually, I can't muster the appropriate Bayless-level of bile on August 13. I'm too thankful for the season being right around the corner. The training camp portion of the preseason is mostly ending this week, people! Let's celebrate with more projected carries, now out of the AFC backfield. If you missed it, I broke down the NFC Tuesday. I'll finish the final eight teams on Thursday, and then wrap up running back week with some Tiers of Heaven on Friday.
Coach: John Harbaugh| Average Rushes/Year: N/A
Projected 2008 Carries: 380
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will essentially run the offense. He leans towards the run and has helped LaDainian Tomlinson and Ronnie Brown reach new heights this decade. Look for the running backs to be involved in the passing game.
These numbers grew closer this week following Willis McGahee's knee surgery. While it was a minor procedure, McGahee's lack of conditioning to start camp is a concern. Can he hold up again? Rice has earned a big role with a great camp, but Baltimore's shaky offensive line is trouble for both players.
See how far McGahee fell in our online draft guide.
Coach: Dick Jauron| Average Rushes/Year: 385
Projected 2008 Carries: 410
According to Pro Football Prospectus, the Bills led the league in % of runs when they were trailing in the second half. Dick Jauron will go run-heavy in any situation, and modest improvement in the passing game will help extend drives and rack up carries.
The argument for Marshawn Lynch as a top-seven pick in a nutshell. He is almost as talented as any back in the league, he's young, and he's a good bet to finish in the top-five in carries. The Bills say they will use him more in the passing game. Fred Jackson is the clear backup and a fine handcuff.
Coach: Marvin Lewis| Average Rushes/Year: 398
Projected 2008 Carries: 380
Marvin Lewis wants to run. He has the offensive line and the passing game to make it work, but the backfield remains a mystery. This team should lean pass because that's where the best talent is.
This may be giving too much credit to Rudi, who has barely taken a hit all camp and doesn't seem likely to stay healthy for long. Perry has more upside than Watson, but can he last 16 weeks? Even if Watson starts the year third on the depth chart, he figures to split work with whoever survives between Perry and Rudi.
Coach: Romeo Crennel| Average Rushes/Year: 355
Projected 2008 Carries: 400
The average annual rushes during the Crennel era are low, but he hit 396 carries last season from running backs with a good offense. This is a balanced team.
Very little changed in Cleveland, so their 2007 totals didn't change much. Wright enjoyed a solid season as Lewis' backup, and I gave him a few extra carries this year due to the miles on Lewis' leg.
Coach: Mike Shanahan| Average Rushes/Year: 433
Projected 2008 Carries: 410
Mike Shanahan wants to run, but will this roster allow it? His backs only had 375 carries last year, but he hit his career average with the unimposing Bell/Bell tag team in 2006. My faith in Jay Cutler boosts the totals of his backs.
If anyone else was coaching this team, we would wonder what the hell they were doing. With Torain out half the season or more, there isn't a true power back available. The most experienced runner, Michael Pittman, is mostly playing fullback. This is Selvin Young's opportunity to be a top-15 fantasy back. He will maintain that pace as long as he's healthy, but there are big concerns about him holding up.
Coach: Gary Kubiak| Average Rushes/Year: 367
Projected 2008 Carries: 370
Gary Kubiak brought in zone blocking guru Alex Gibbs this off-season. The Texans want to run, and Gibbs' history indicates that they will do it well. Eventually. The talent remains in the passing game, and that's how this team leaned last year. I may have projected more carries here if I knew who to give them too .
Gary Kubiak clearly went to the Shanahan School of throwing backs against the wall to see what sticks. In this scenario, Darius Walker didn't make the team and doesn't have a carry. Other than Slaton, though, no one is guaranteed a job in Houston. Green couldn't last a carry in the preseason before getting hurt. Brown is always hurt, although I think he has the best chance to be a difference maker, if only for a month at a time. Taylor has upside, but may be more of a fullback. This mess is going committee. And if doesn't work, Kubiak has Ron Dayne's number on speed dial. I'm sure he's stayed in good shape.
Coach: Tony Dungy| Average Rushes/Year: 409
Projected 2008 Carries: 415
The modern version of the Colts is very adaptable. They can skew run or pass depending on the season and their personnel. They can throw or run in the red zone, like they did in 2007. The key remains Peyton Manning, who keeps the offense moving and gets his backs the ball when they face favorable defensive fronts.
Is Joseph Addai a workhorse or not? His fade in the second half of last season suggests the Colts will be careful with his workload. This won't be a committee, but the backups will get involved, especially if the Colts are fortunate enough to get big leads. Keith looks like the odd man out, but that could change.
Coach: Jack Del Rio| Average Rushes/Year: 428
Projected 2008 Carries: 440
This team is better at passing, but that doesn't mean they will do it more often. The Jaguars define smashmouth and have the talent to run like crazy.
Since Drew will get nearly all the receptions and red zone touches, he remains the most valuable Jaguar by far. But he needs Taylor to get hurt or finally start declining to reach his true potential. Otherwise, Mo-Jo will remain an inconsistent week-to-week option.