Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Jerome, Jason & Eddie

It's pretty much a done deal. The Steelers will release all-time sack leader Jason Gildon today and the Titans have resigned themselves to go forward in 2004 without the services of their workhorse running back, Eddie George.

All this moving around got me to thinking about Jerome Bettis and how he too was almost a June 1 casualty (or was on schedule to just be released outright in February) before he restructured his deal. Looking at Bettis' and Georges' numbers it's scary how similar they are.

Bettis has been in the league since 1993 and George arrived in 1996. But other than that, their production is almost identical.
Name G Att Yds Yds/Rush TD/Rush
Bettis 14.9 283.5 1,123.0 3.9 6.3
George 16.0 341.6 1,251.1 3.7 8.0
George rushed for more yards on average, but he also got more attempts. Bettis averaged more yards per carry (but just barely) while George scored almost two rushing TDs more than Bettis a season. Where George distinguished himself as a really good back however, was in the passing game. His ability to make catches coming out of the backfield was an important part of Tenessee's offensive success the last five seasons.
Name Rec Yds Yds/Rec TD/Rec
Bettis 17.3 123.9 7.0 0.3
George 32.4 268.0 7.9 1.3
George caught almost twice as many passes as Bettis and averaged almost 8 yards a reception and he averaged 268 receiving yards per season. And while this may not sound like a lot, consider that McNair's early success was in part due to having George as a third or fourth option when other receivers were covered downfield.

Maybe what's most impressive about Eddie George, especially in the last few seasons, was that he never missed a game. Ever. And even though Bettis was a workhorse early in his career, the last three seasons he has been slowed by injuries -- so much so that many in Pittsburgh were hoping to see him released.

Fortunately for Bettis, it looks like he'll finish his career in Pittsburgh -- which I think is good for both the city and Jerome. After today however, George will no longer be a Titan and some reports have him going to the Cardinals. Hopefully George will do well there, but I don't think that's where old running backs go to resurrect their careers (see Emmitt Smith), but hey, you can't beat the weather in December.