Fast Start, FastFinish?Early-seasonnumbers may be a trap
SURE YOU lovethem now, but will five weeks of strong production translate into seasonlongsuccess for the likes of Laveranues Coles, Warrick Dunn, Jon Kitna and WillisMcGahee? Our best guess is no, yes, no, yes, but in any case a look at thepassing, rushing and receiving leaders through Week 5 of last season providessome valuable perspective. Some of the early leaders fell off dramatically,while players who later came on with a rush--such as Trent Green (who atseason's end would be second in passing yards), Tiki Barber (second inrushing), Larry Johnson (third in rushing) and Santana Moss (second inreceiving)--were nowhere to be found. We foresee similarly startling moves upthe charts this year by quarterbacks Drew Bledsoe, Jake Delhomme and EliManning; running backs Laurence Maroney, Willie Parker and Clinton Portis; andreceivers Bernard Berrian, Antonio Bryant and Greg Jennings.
The NFL has apasser-rating formula to measure a quarterback's efficiency. So why not applythe same concept for running backs? Replace passing attempts with rushingattempts plus passes-intended-for, use positive rushes plus receptions in placeof completions and replace interceptions with fumbles; yards gained andtouchdowns are weighed the same. Among players who were the focal point of 50or more offensive plays through the first four weeks of this season, these arethe running-back efficiency leaders.
TORRY HOLT, Rams
TERRELL OWENS, Eagles
ANQUAN BOLDIN, Cardinals
TERRY GLENN, Cowboys
LARRY FITZGERALD, Cardinals
STEVE SMITH, Panthers
RANDY MOSS, Raiders
CHAD JOHNSON, Bengals
JOEY GALLOWAY, Buccaneers
PLAXICO BURRESS, Giants
169 Passes thrown by Rams quarterback Marc Bulger thisseason without being intercepted, a span of five games.
7 Games last season (out of eight) in which Bulger wasintercepted. He had nine for the year.
31 Games since a Cardinals running back has rushed for100 yards (dating back to Oct. 24, 2004), after EDGERRIN JAMES was held to 71by the Chiefs on Sunday.
HUNTER MARTIN/WIREIMAGE.COM (WESTBROOK)
TOP NOTCH Westbrook's versatility and productivity earned him the highest running back rating through four weeks.
GREG LEBOEUF/WIREIMAGE.COM (BULGER); JOHN BIEVER (ALEXANDER); MARK COWAN/ICON SMI (HOLT); MIKE MOORE/WIREIMAGE.COM (JAMES)