Well, we're glad to see that market forces intervened and that the power of incentives motivated the Tennessee Titans running backs. How else can you explain it? Well, let us. Last week, we failed to put Chris Johnson and LenDale White among our top ten NFL running back tandems. Our reasoning went like this: a tandem to us means there's a sense of equality. Two guys work together and both produce. They are a combined force, not a starter and a guy who gives the main guy a breather. White was a concept-killer. He hadn't once gone over 59 yards in a game, his per carry average was at a pathetic 2.4 (seriously, defend that, even if many are short-yardage carries) and the reasoning was, how is this a pure tandem when one guy was completely replaceable?
So, naturally, the two went out and had the tandem game of the year thus far, superceding even the Ronnie and Ricky Wildcat Show in New England. In this one, Johnson and White equally split carries (Johnson 18, White 17) and combined for 317 yards (Johnson 168, White 149) and 4 TDs. Delightful stuff. Of course, they did this against the Kansas City defense, which should be, to paraphrase Jackie Chiles, the most public of Herm's many humiliations.
The more fascinating aspect to this game? White broke off an 80-yard run! This is absolutely inconceivable. Really, we love LenDale. He once pulled a brilliant pyschological trick at the NFL Combine when we asked him how much he weighed and he proceeded to talk about how he wasn't really sure, but had played the National Championship game against Texas at easily over 250 lbs. (He likes to be at 235.) How was it a trick? Well, people forget that until the USC play-callers handed him the ball late when they needed just a yard and had a player in Reggie Bush who could easily leap a handful of yards with a few step run-up and thus lost the game for the Trojans, White had mauled Texas. (This stiff arm on current Raiders safety Michael Huff deserves a plaque.) USC was superior all day, save for the one-man show of Vince Young. Anyway, White was basically saying, "In college, I played fat. Now I'm coming to play." Always thought the admission was clever. Needless to say, we think that might be the longest 80-yarder ever by a 235 lb back who came into the game with a 2.4 ypc average. We'll look. Before Sunday, White's longest run in his career—35 games and 444 carries—was 28 yards.
Also, White came into the game averaging a dreadful 2.4 ypc and leaves at 3.9. Way to legitimize the tandem, LenDale. Seriously. (Also, if you think we hated on Tennessee before, read up.)
As an aside, more than one person called us an idiot for not putting Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor among the top tandems. One was a former intern who clearly is using transference to turn his depression over the Vikings into mis-placed, destructive angst against us. We hope he gets help. Again: a "tandem" is a mutually beneficial pair. The idea is that the presence of one genuinely helps the other. Two men, working in concert. Were it not for the ethos of human preservation, the Vikes would never hand off to Chester. He got nearly his most action all season on Sunday, and piled up 10 carries for 34 yards. (His season-high is 11 carries.) He now has 144 yards on the year to AP's 684 yards. Taylor's a good back, but this is about as much a "tandem" as Favre and Peterson.