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Old 11-03-2007, 09:09 AM   #1
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Default Parker vs Bettis ESPN Pittsburgh

October 30th, 2007

by Mark Madden
October 30th, 2007

Willie Parker joined the Steelers in 2004 as an undrafted free agent. He quickly caught the eye and earned the faith of Coach Bill Cowher, and it was that faith - combined with a lot of injuries - that made Parker the starter in 2005.
I hated it. Parker wasn't good enough to play much at North Carolina. How could he be good enough to start for the Steelers?
Believe it or not, I was wrong. So was then - North Carolina Coach John Bunting.
Parker is not only a competent starter, he's turned into a dominant back. So dominant, in fact, that it's reasonable to say that Parker is as good - right now - as Jerome Bettis was during his Steelers prime.
Want proof? I'd be glad to.
As noted, Parker first started in 2005, rushing for 1,202 yards with a 4.7-yard average. He gained 1,494 yards with a 4.4-yard average last year. So far this season, Parker has 726 yards and a 4.4-yard average. That projects to Parker gaining 1,664 yards over the entire campaign.
Compare those numbers to Bettis' three best years as a Steeler. Sure, that's giving Bettis an edge. But the edge doesn't help much.
Bettis had 1,431 yards and a 4.5-yard average in 1996, 1,635 yards and a 4.4-yard average in 1997, 1,341 yards and a 3.8-yard average in 2000.
Bettis' three-season total: 4,407 yards. Parker's: 4,358 (including this year's projection).
Bettis was great. But the numbers show Parker is in the same ballpark.
At his peak, Bettis was steadier. But Parker is more of a breakaway threat. Bettis posted less big losses. Parker posts more long gains. Bettis was quick and nimble for a power back. Parker is powerful for a speed back.
It's a very even comparison. The raw numbers favor Bettis slightly. But Parker won a Super Bowl as a featured back. Bettis was Parker's backup.
Parker, 26, might leave Bettis in the dust over the long haul. Given Bettis' career total of 13,662 yards over a 13-year career, it's not probable. But it certainly is possible. Parker is young. Riding the bench at North Carolina turns out to be a blessing, because Parker has some extra carries in those legs.
If Parker can match Bettis' longevity - and that's a very big "if" - history may anoint him the better back.
Boy, will I look stupid then.
But at least Bunting will look a lot stupider.
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Old 11-03-2007, 09:22 AM   #2
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Default Re: Parker vs Bettis ESPN Pittsburgh

I think it is awfully early to compare them. Plus they are 2 different type backs.
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Old 11-03-2007, 09:24 AM   #3
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Default Re: Parker vs Bettis ESPN Pittsburgh

Dang...

I think that is the first Madden article that actually was coherent and well written.

You may disagree... but does give us something to think about..
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Old 11-03-2007, 09:37 AM   #4
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Default Re: Parker vs Bettis ESPN Pittsburgh

2 different players, 2 different kinds of games. I love how Willie has added a new and exciting dimension to our offense, but there are times I'd kill to be able to put Jerome in for the play.
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Old 11-03-2007, 10:31 AM   #5
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Default Re: Parker vs Bettis ESPN Pittsburgh

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I think it is awfully early to compare them. Plus they are 2 different type backs.
Yep. Most definitely.

Good post, SteelDog, and I understand where you are coming from, but at this point in FWP's career, as Dom said above, it is way too soon to compare the two. Jerome was more of a bruiser, where FWP is a bit more razzle dazzle. Bettis ran best north-south and FWP seems to have more success running east-west. I also think Jerome benefitted from a younger and more solid OL, as well as having Danny Kreider as his bouncer. With that being said, however, I believe in my black and gold heart that Willie is only going to get better as the years go by and prove himself to be an elite back in the NFL.
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Old 11-03-2007, 11:55 AM   #6
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Default Re: Parker vs Bettis ESPN Pittsburgh

To me, comparing FWP to the Bus is like comparing Gale Sayers to Earl Campbell - apples and oranges. But two great RBs, all the same.
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Old 11-03-2007, 12:32 PM   #7
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Default Re: Parker vs Bettis ESPN Pittsburgh

plus have you noticed the weight / size difference between the too. No offense to good old JB, but he was fat. He used his weight to push through a line where as parker uses his small size and agility to slip through the cracks of the defenses.
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Old 11-03-2007, 12:34 PM   #8
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Default Re: Parker vs Bettis ESPN Pittsburgh

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plus have you noticed the weight / size difference between the too. No offense to good old JB, but he was fat. He used his weight to push through a line where as parker uses his small size and agility to slip through the cracks of the defenses.
I swear they must grease that boy up!!
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Old 11-03-2007, 12:35 PM   #9
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Default Re: Parker vs Bettis ESPN Pittsburgh

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I swear they must grease that boy up!!
mmmmmm hope they use KY extra or some good ol' fashioned crisco!
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Old 11-03-2007, 12:43 PM   #10
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Default Re: Parker vs Bettis ESPN Pittsburgh

They say Brady lathers up with Crisco before the game as well. and, yet, he isn't much of runner - things that make you go huh.
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