For An Encore, Could Tomlinson Break 2000?

Coming off an MVP season and holding a barrel full of records, it would seem that LT has nothing left to prove. His trophy case is lined with accolades and awards, and his name will forever be in the history books as one of the greatest ever to play the sport of football.

However, there remains one awards missing from LT's collection.

“I've heard some people say how he hasn't won anything in the playoffs,” Tomlinson said of himself. “Well, they're right. We'll just have to see what happens.”

A win in the playoffs and a victory in the SuperBowl is every player's dream. LT is no different. It is clear that he would rather have team wins than personal glory. So lest someone should be confused, make no mistake; Ladainain Tomlinson wants a ring.

But if there was one thing, aside from a championship victory, that would surely merit instant enshrinement in Canton, it would be Tomlinson's name among legends of the game Barry Sanders, Eric Dickerson, and OJ Simpson. The 2000 yard rushing club is so exclusive that, even if Tomlinson went his entire career without a SuperBowl victory, he could very well be remembered as the greatest player ever seen in the NFL.

Below is a list of 2000+ yard rushers:

2003 - Jamal Lewis: 16 games, 387 att, 2066 yds, 5.3 avg, 14 td
1998 - Terrell Davis: 16 games, 392 att, 2008 yds, 5.1 avg, 21 td
1997 - Barry Sanders: 16 games, 335 att, 2053 yds, 6.1 avg, 11 td
1984 - Eric Dickerson: 16 games, 379 att, 2105 yds, 5.6 avg, 14 td
1973 - OJ Simpson: 14 games, 332 attt, 2003 yds, 6.0 avg, 12 td

I would much LT emulate the style of Barry Sanders than Terrell Davis in doing more with less carries. Davis carried the ball a punishing 392 times to a highly respectable 5.1 YPC. However, Sanders carried the ball only 335 times in 97 (a low-ish amount for a featured back) but averaged 6.1 yards per carry en route to 2053 rushing yards.

If LT can remain healthy all season long - which up to this point he has consistently proven he can - and if Norv Turner can help elevate the offense to a point where LT is facing less pressure, I can see Tomlinson approaching 6.0 yards a carry in 2007. With the offensive line he has now, LT wont face nearly the number of defenders in the backfield that Sanders suffered through. And with the quarterback and offensive system that the Chargers have, hopefully defenders will be forced to remain honest and LT will have a little more breathing room. Because all he needs is a crease.

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July 30, 2007

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