Teams benefiting from diverse attack

Having different runners with varied skills can be every bit as effective as having a go-to guy.

Updated: January 26, 2004, 9:48 AM ET
By By Darrell Trimble | NFL Insider
There used to be a time when "running back-by-committee" was not considered a four-word phrase, but rather a four-letter word. It still is to fantasy owners everywhere, but the opinion of coaches and general managers has softened somewhat.

That's because success can enlighten even the dimmest mind. The thinking was that if a team shared carries between running backs it was because there was no rusher on the roster good enough to be "the" guy, and that meant your ground game was likely to be inferior. Though that still may be the case with a team like the Detroit Lions, other teams are debunking that myth.

Atlanta, Cincinnati and Oakland had a good deal of success with the multi-back approach, but it was the Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles who really altered perceptions. All three teams finished in the top nine in the league in rushing, ahead of teams like Seattle, New Orleans and Kansas City, who have Pro Bowl caliber featured backs.