Mike Anderson, 2000 Broncos (sixth round), 1,487
Curtis Martin, 1995 Patriots (third round), 1,487
Rueben Mayes, 1986 Saints (third round), 1,353
Alfred Morris, 2012 Redskins (sixth round), 1,322 (and counting)
Steve Slaton, 2008 Texans (third round), 1,282
As you may have noticed, Mike Shanahan has coached three of them (Portis and Anderson in Denver, Morris in Washington).
And let’s not forget: His son Kyle was the offensive coordinator in Houston when Slaton had that fine first season in ‘08. Four of the six backs, in other words, have a connection to the Shanahans. What are the odds of that?
• And finally, on a related subject: How many teams in pro football history have had a rookie quarterback/running back duo as good as Robert Griffin III and Morris? In terms of first-year productivity, you’d have a hard time coming up with any combos who have been better. After all, RG3 is second in the league in passer rating (104.2), which is practically unheard of for a first-year guy, and Alfred is third in rushing. (And we haven’t even talked about Robert’s contributions as a runner.)
I can think of two clubs, by the way, who had a rookie QB/running back pair that went on to the Hall of Fame. One was the 1956 Baltimore Colts (Johnny Unitas and Lenny Moore); the other was the ‘46 Cleveland Browns (Otto Graham and Marion Motley). That’s how far back you have to go — the veritable Dark Ages. We’ll have to see how Griffin and Morris’ careers turn out, of course, but it’s mind-blowing that we’re even talking about them in such a context.