Monday, February 13, 2006

Extrapolate: A word that should be used sparingly in sports’s Len Pasquarelli apparently with a straight face, poses the question can Chiefs RB Larry Johnson run for 2,500 yards.

Although he started only nine games in 2005, not moving into the lineup until Holmes was lost to neck and back injuries that might still threaten his career, Johnson registered big numbers. In his nine starts, Johnson went over 100 yards every game, with seven outings of 130 or more yards and a pair of 200-yard performances. During the starting stretch, Johnson carried 261 times for 1,351 yards and 16 touchdowns. In only one of the nine games did he fail to score, and he had six multiple-touchdown games, with two contests in which he scored three times.
Extrapolate those numbers over a 16-game season and here's what you get: 464 carries, 2,402 yards, and 28 touchdowns.

For Johnson or anyone else to get 2,500 yards would need to average 156 yards per game. It would be 6.25 yd/carry. Eric Dickerson rushed for 2,105 yards in 1984 and had a 5.6 yard average. Johnson’s average last year was 5.2.

Sports writers should not project numbers, especially based on partial seasons. Remember Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes? He hit three home runs on opening day for the Cubs in 1994. He finished the year with 8, far short of projections.

The fact that Pasquarelli seems to seriously consider this possible is absurd. Even if a running back averaged 7 yards a carry, it is the most violent position in sports, and to assume a running back will play all 16 games without injury is foolish. Johnson is a good back, has a great line and a coach that will give him the ball 30 times a game. Even in the perfect setting this milestone is ludicrous.

Maybe Len is talking about Madden '06 or Tecmo bowl. Or Larry "Gran-mama" Johnson the basketball player taking a 2,500 yard jog in the park. This seems more plausible.