Just recently with the retirement of LT, ESPN ran a Rank-em feature of Running Backs. Whenever this topic comes up, the debate about Emmitt vs Barry is sure to appear. We have been through these discussions before and alot of it has to do with what Barry would have done in Dallas, and what could Emmitt have done in Detroit.
Instead of wondering about a situation that never happened or will happen. I decided to take a look at how each line preformed without the advantage of a Hall of Fame back running the ball. My solution to this was fairly simple. Erase Emmitt and Barry and take them out of equation.
I used Pro Football Reference's site,using just the regular season, and went year by year through both Emmitt and Barry's career and just looked at the Teams rushes and yards and just subtracted their numbers to see what was left. I figured that with the unanimous choice that of course Dallas had the better line I wouldn't find much to surprise me. And this is what I came up with.
Between 1989 and 1998 Detroit had 1083 rush attempts for 4291 yards by players not named Sanders a 3.9 average. In 10 years their line averaged over 4 yards an attempt 4 times without Sanders numbers added in. In 1989 with 4.1, 1990 with 5.6, 1992 with 4.4, and 1998 with 4.7.
Between 1990 and 2002 Dallas had 2090 rush attempts for 7720 yards by players not wearing 22 a 3.6 average. In 13 years Dallas managed to average over 4 yards an attempt 3 times without Emmitt's numbers added in. Most surprising was when those three years were. Not during that Olines glory days of the early nineties but, in 2000 with a 4.4 avg, 2001 with a 4.7 avg, and 2002 with a 4.6 average.
Only one time did Detroit fall under a 3 yard average per attempt in 1994. Dallas fell under that mark twice in 1991 and 1994.
I really didn't expect those results. I thought for sure that Dallas's line would have better numbers. But they didn't. And while there may not be much difference between an overall average of 3.9 and 3.6, that is over a decade long span. Whats more telling is that Detroit managed 4 years out of 10 with 4 or more yards. While Dallas only had 3 in 13.
And what I am left wondering is. How did Detroit learn to rush block better than the Cowboys without Barry and how did Dallas forget how to rush block without Emmitt if they were just paving the way. Sorry 22 I'll never doubt you again.
And whenever this discussion comes, with my best straight face. I'll just tell all the haters that I'll agree with them,but only if they will agree that Herman Moore was a better receiver than Jerry Rice because he suffered in the same sad situation while Rice had all those ProBowlers around him.