Consecutive 1,000-Yard Seasons by Three Different Running Backs
Sort of lost in all the other stories this season is the fact that the Cowboys have had three different running backs rush for more than 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.
(Hat tip to Robert Stiltner, who asked me on Facebook why nobody has mentioned this. I did the research based on his comment.)
The Cowboys are the third team in NFL history to accomplish the feat. The other two instances each happened since 2003.
Denver Broncos (2003-2006)
The Broncos under Mike Shanahan became famous for finding a seemingly endless number of running backs. Between 2003 and 2006, a different Denver running back rushed for more than 1,000 yards.
2003 – Clinton Portis: 290 attempts, 1,591 yards
2004 – Reuben Droughns: 275 attempts, 1,240 yards
2005 – Mike Anderson: 239 attempts, 1,014 yards
2006 – Tatum Bell: 233 attempts, 1,025 yards
New York Giants (2006-2008)
The Giants kept trying to develop its “thunder and lightning” attack with various running backs during the mid-2000s. They became the second franchise to have three different backs with at least 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. Moreover, during the third of those three seasons, the Giants had two 1,000-yard backs.
2006 – Tiki Barber: 327 attempts, 1,662 yards
2007 – Brandon Jacobs: 202 attempts, 1,009 yards
2008 – Derrick Ward: 182 attempts, 1,025 yards; Brandon Jacobs: 219 attempts, 1,089 yards
Dallas Cowboys (2014-2016)
The Cowboys have featured what is probably the best offensive line in football during the past few years, so it is no coincidence that the team has had three 1,000-yard backs.
2014 – DeMarco Murray: 392 attempts, 1,845 yards
2015 – Darren McFadden: 239 attempts, 1,089 yards
2016 – Ezekiel Elliott: 310 attempts, 1,551 yards (through 14 games)
Some other teams have come close to appearing on this list. Quite a number have had different backs rush for more than 1,000 yards in (for example) three of four or five seasons.
Atlanta nearly made this list thanks to quarterback Michael Vick. Warrick Dunn rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2004, 2005, and 2006, and Vick added 1,039 rushing yards of his own in 2006. The Falcons did not have a 1,000-yard rusher in 2006, but Michael Turner gained 1,699 yards in 2008.
The Colts were another team that barely missed this list. Below are the Indianapolis rushing leaders from 1998 to 2001:
1998 – Marshall Faulk: 324 attempts, 1,319 yards
1999 – Edgerrin James: 369 attempts, 1,553 yards
2000 – Edgerrin James: 387 attempts, 1,709 yards
2001 – Dominic Rhodes: 233 attempts, 1,104 yards
The Colts did not have a 1,000-yard rusher in 2003, but a back rushed for at least 1,000 yards every year from 2003 to 2007 (James from 2003-2005; Joseph Addai in 2006-2007).