RZL All-Decade Team Ė 2010s (Halfbacks)
This is the second article in what hopefully will be a long series of articles. In an effort to explore our leagueís history, Iím developing an All-Decade team for our first 10 years of existence. To do so I have had to sift through a lot of our archives, so itís likely there are some errors. At the same time, we have a very rich history with many talented players. So itís very likely that a few were excluded that some think should be included, especially since each of us may value some elements of the game over others. Either way, this series is meant to be fun and enlightening. I hope you enjoy.
For the HBs, I chose 3 players to represent the All-Decade Team. That hardly seems like enough, especially for such a high profile position and one stacked with some many talents. These 3 Halfbacks are taken from a list of many candidates, all deserving in their own way. It wasnít easy, but I think this list represents the best of the best. Though I know arguments can made for all of the finalists. Ultimately, I went with 3 HBs because most teams carry 3 on a roster and these lists represent the quintessential team from the Decade.
Here are the Halfbacks of the Decade
Mark Ingram (Colts, Saints, Raiders). Somehow Mark Ingram bounced around the league early in his career, playing for three different team in three years. Though he didnít find a home in Indianapolis or New Orleans, Oakland was a match made in heaven for Ingram. Ingram exploded in 2013 rushing for a league record 2,143 yards and topped it with 17 TDs. Two years later he smashed his own record with 2,180 yards on the ground. One canít help but imagine what his career totals might have been if he had played in Oakland his whole career. Like Mathews, Ingramís career best came during a 7 year stretch. During that period, Like Mathews, Ingram averaged over 1,700. Itís telling that Ingramís worst year was when he rushed for ďonlyĒ 1,391 yards on a 4.7 average. As he enters a new Decade, Ingram is slower and itís easy to think of his as washed up. However, Ingramís recent 220 yard performance shows thereís still a little gas in the tank.
Rushing Yards: 13,622 yards (2nd for the Decade)
Pro Bowls: 4 (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019)
Awards: 2013 Addition of the Year, 2013 Breakout of the Year, 2013 MPV, 2013 AFC Addition, 2013 AFC Breakout, 2013 AFC MVP, 2013 AFC OPTY; 2015 MVP, 2015 OPTY, AFC MVP AFC PPTY; 2017 AFC OPTY.
League Leader in Yards: 2013, 2015
League Leader in TDs: 2013
Top 5 Finish in Yards: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017
100 yard games/200 yard games: 56/6
Ryan Mathews (Chargers, Giants, Patriots). Ryan Mathews was recently overtaken as the all-time leader in yards for the league, but there is no doubt who lead the league through its first decade. Mathews was a dominant force as a running back. During his first 7 seasons in the league he averaged Ė averaged! Ė over 1,700 yards on the ground. That figure is simply incredible. Only once from 2010 to 2016 did Mathews rush for under 1,600 yards. Itís hard to really grasp that kind of production. No one had more Pro Bowl appearances in the decade and it begs the question, how did he only go to 4?! Mathews was a workhorse, but also had an amazing 4.9 average during those first 7 years. The wheels started coming off in the 2017 campaign and he never regained his form. His last two forgettable years in New York and then Boston added about 1,000 yards to his career totals but in no way diminish what he accomplished.
Rushing Yards: 14,024 yards (1st for the Decade)
Pro Bowls: 4 (2010, 2014, 2015, 2016)
Awards: 2010 GZL ROTY, 2010 AFC OPTY.
League Leader in Yards: 2010
League Leader in TDs: None
Top 5 Finish in Yards: 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015
100 yard games/200 yard games: 55/5
Doug Martin (Packers). Doug Martin may not be the most obvious choice, as he hasnít had the high profile that runners like Mathews, Ingram and even Blount have had. But Martin has been an amazingly prolific and reliable runner during his 7 seasons in the league. After a rookie campaign in which he rushed for ďonlyĒ 1,200 yards, he has averaged over 1,750 in the last 6 years of the Decade. Itís easy to point to the fact that Martin has no hardware and only lead the league in rushing once. But no back in league history has had more Top 5 finishes than Martin, which he did 5 straight seasons. Martinís 2018 season with 2,111 yards is the third best in league history.
Rushing Yards: 11,810 yards (5th best)
Pro Bowls: 2 (2017, 2018)
League Leader in Yards: 2018
League Leader in TDs: None
Top 5 Finish in Yards: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019
100 yard games/200 yard games: 50/6
Others Considered: LeGarrette Blount finished third in rushing, made 2 Pro Bowls, was the 2016 MVP and has the most TDs in a season and most TDs in a game (5)ÖKeith Payne finished 4th for the Decade in Rushing, made 2 Pro Bowls and finished in the Top 5 four timesÖRashard Mendenahall made two trips to the Pro Bowl, finished 6th in rushing and made the Top 5 in rushing 4 separate timesÖ.LeSean MCoy tied for most Pro Bowl trips with 4 and finished 7th all-time for the DecadeÖArian Foster is largely forgotten today but was a beast at the beginning of the Decade, finishing in the Top 5 for the first four seasons and went to 3 Pro Bowls.