Original post by Keith Van Wagner:
RZL All-Decade Team – 2010s (Halfbacks)
This is the third article in what hopefully will be a long series of articles. In an effort to explore our league’s history, I’m developing an All-Decade team for the years 2010 to 2019. To do so I have had to sift through a lot of our archives, so it’s likely there are some errors. At the same time, we have a very rich history with many talented players. So it’s 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 some 20 candidates, all deserving in their own way. How do you leave off a guy like Johnnie Vance who had more yards than everybody in the decade not named Rashard Mendenhall? Or what about Brandon Jacobs, who was twice named HB of the Year? It wasn’t 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.
I will say I had a very hard time deciding between Johnnie Vance and Darren McFadden. I came to a final decision on Mendenhall and Peerman pretty quickly, but had a lot of trouble making a call here. Ultimately, I went with McFadden, but it was all but a coin flip. Of course, there are about 5 other guys who could likely lay claim to McFadden’s spot on this roster.
Here are the Halfbacks of the Decade
Rashard Mendenhall (Browns, 2010-2018; Cardinals, 2019). Few members of the Team of the Decade can lay claim to having their careers completely defined to the Decade. Mendenall was a rookie in 2010 and played his last game at the conclusion of the Decade. Mendenhall rushed for 1,000 for 9 consecutive seasons before a final forgettable campaign in Arizona. During that stretch he had a remarkable 6 consecutive seasons of 1,400 yards or more, including a 143 yard, 2 TD day leading the Browns to the Super Bowl. For his efforts, Mendenhall ended up the leading rusher for the Decade, nearing 13,000 yards – more than 1,500 than the next highest total. Despite this, Mendenhall’s selection is not without controversy. How can a back who never won an Award, a rushing title, or lead the league in TDs be selected? These are valid points, of course, but in the 2010s no one matched his productivity, justifying his inclusion.
Rushing Yards: 12,928
Pro Bowls: 3 (2014, 2015, 2018)
League Leader in Yards: None.
League Leader in TDs: None.
Top 5 Finish in Yards: 2013, 2015, 2018
100 yard games/200 yard games: 37/3
Darren McFadden (Raiders, 2010-2017; Texans, 2019). Darren McFadden was a beast on the field and probably deserves more accolades than he won during his career. Though only voted to two Pro Bowls, for the 6 year stretch between 2010 and 2015, no one rushed for more yards than McFadden. Four of those seasons were for more than 1,400 yards, including his monster 2015 season when he totaled 1,906 yards rushing and scored 14 TDs. During that period McFadden averaged over 5 yards a carry and topped 10 TDs 4 times. McFadden also had an amazing playoff run in 2013 which included yardage totals of 158, 142 and 122 yards in route to a championship.
Rushing Yards: 11,003
Pro Bowls: 2 (2014, 2015)
League Leader in Yards: 2014, 2015
League Leader in TDs: 2012
Top 5 Finish in Yards: 2014, 2015
100 yard games/200 yard games: 38/4
Cedric Peerman (Saints, 2012-2019). Yet another potentially controversial selection here in Peerman, though I think it would be difficult to deny Peerman and his out of nowhere story. Peerman rushed for a grand total of 429 yards during his first 4 years in the league, serving primarily as a kick return specialist. This included the improbable stat line from 2014: 1 carry, 0 yards for the season. And then, out of nowhere, in 2016 Peerman became the most dominant back in the league. In the last 4 seasons of the Decade, Peerman rushed for an average of over 1,700 yards. His 4 Pro Bowls is the highest among any HB for the Decade, and is one of only 2 backs (Brandon Jacobs) to win multiple Best HB Awards. He’s also the only HB for the Decade to finish in the Top 5 four times. Though Peerman’s impact on the league was concentrated in a short 4 seasons, his story is very reminiscent of Terrell Davis’, a player who also had a short but brilliant career, and was also named to an All-Decade Team.
Rushing Yards: 7,385
Pro Bowls: 4 (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
Awards: 2017 Best HB, 2019 Best HB
League Leader in Yards: 2017, 2019
League Leader in TDs: None.
Top 5 Finish in Yards: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
100 yard games/200 yard games: 30/2
Others Considered: Johnnie Vance had the second most yards in the Decade, went to 2 Pro Bowls, was the 2010 ROTY and won best back in 2015, lead the league in TDs in 2015, and twice finished in the Top 5 in rushing, but was edged out of the final position…Lynell Mitchell was an underrated back who had nearly 11,000 yards rushing, went to 2 Pro Bowls, was the Best HB in 2013 but missed the cut…One of the last HBs left off the list was Frank Summers, a 3 time Pro Bowler, the 2014 Offensive Player of the Year and Best HB, and lead the league in TDs in 2015…Lavarus Giles racked up over 10,000 yards and made 2 Pro Bowls…Steve Slaton went to 2 Pro Bowls, was the Best HB in 2012, lead the league in TDs in 2012 and twice finished in the Top 5…Few backs were as accomplished as Desmond Mayer, who made 2 Pro Bowls, was the Rookie of the Year, and 3 times finished in the Top 5 in rushing…One of only 6 HBs to get 3 or more Pro Bowl invites, Ben Tate was also the 2016 Best HB, scored the most TDs one season and twice finished in the Top 5…Brandon Jacobs was probably the best HB in the first third of the Decade, twice winning Best HB…Sol Hogan was another standout who came close to making the final list; his 3 Pro Bowls are among the best for the Decade...Knowshon Moreno, Gannon Beck, Brad Phillips, Chris Wells, Dwain Nair, Laurence Malroney, Marshawn Lynch and Nate Ilaoa all were also superb during the Decade.