The best running back in the NFL is on a 1-year, $859,725 contract. Wait, you’re probably thinking, “There’s no way that either Adrian Peterson or LeSean McCoy make so little money!” Except, the running back I’m speaking of is neither one of those special talents. In fact, he’s actually on the Colts.
It’s not the 3rd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Trent Richardson.
It’s 8-year veteran, Ahmad Bradshaw. Richardson’s back-up.
Yes, that’s right. The same Ahmad Bradshaw with 34 carries for 182 total rushing yards on the season at a healthy 5.4 ypc. The same Bradshaw, who despite having 0 rushing touchdowns, has 4 receiving touchdowns on the year. (Even more remarkable about that statistic, is that Bradshaw had 3 career receiving touchdowns in his previous 7 seasons combined)
Why is Bradshaw the best? Because the advanced statistics provided by ProFootballFocus (PFF) currently have him as the #1 ranked running back through 4 weeks at +5.4.
Now, do I actually think Bradshaw is the best running back in the league? No, but everyone can agree he’s having a great year so far. Like everything else, advanced statistics should be taken with a grain of salt. That being said, he’s been tremendous for the Colts and has been one of the best running backs in the league this season.
Bradshaw just doesn’t do one thing well either, he does it all. Whether it be run, catch, or block, he’s quietly been one of the most complete backs in the NFL. PFF actually has him leading the league in pass blocking effiency among active running backs, in addition to his 4 receiving touchdowns, on top of his 5.4 ypc.
For Bradshaw, it’s never been about talent or ability. Rather, it’s been about health and durability. Whether it be a sore calf, injured foot, sprained ankle, balky knee, or neck stinger, Bradshaw’s career injury history would make former Colts’ safety Bob Sanders‘ blush. Just kidding, but you catch my drift.
Do you think Eli Manning and the Giants haven’t missed Bradshaw though since he left? Yes, ex-Raiders’ RB Rashad Jennings has put together an impressive debut season for the G-men, but Bradshaw was a leader of that team and a complete back. While there’s more to the story, the Giants haven’t been winning much since he left.
Bradshaw missed the Colts’ final 13 games last season, as he was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve with a neck injury. At the time, it looked like his career might be in serious jeopardy. Yet, rather than hand him his walking papers after an unfulfilled one-year deal, the Colts decided to bring him back on another one-year “prove it” deal. After seeing what we’ve seen through 4 weeks, it’s hard to blame them.
The Colts took a gamble, and so far, it’s paid off. Now, it’s time to simply “unleash the beast”…