Since the early days of the NFL, teams have always had a feature running back. From Walter Payton to Barry Sanders, teams have always had that one back that could get 30 plus touches per game. Up until the early 2000s those feature backs also had a FB to open up holes in the opponents D-line, which gave running lanes for the RB. In the past some players at the FB position were crowd favorites, such as Daryl “Moose” Johnston from the Dallas Cowboys. With the current “pass happy league” that the NFL is now, players like Johnston are almost a thing of the past.
Carries for RBs have been in steady decline since the beginning of the 2000’s. These days, the “Bell Cow” type RB’s, such as an Arian Foster or Adrian Peterson, are quickly disappearing from the league. This year, for example, the Bucs are carrying 4 RBs on their roster, 3 of which have had carries in both games this season. There are definitely pros and cons to this type of strategy.
The “pro’s” are always having a RB that is fresh and that you can throw into the huddle at any time. Having 4 different backs ensures the offense always has several different players in their backfield that can make defenders miss tackles.
The “con’s” are that you no longer have a “Lorenzo Neil” type FB that can open holes for the running game, as well as protecting the QB when he is in the pocket. The day of the Road Grading FB are over, and star RB’s don’t seem very far behind.