The argument was made to me today that we’d be in more trouble if Westbrook went down than if Donovan went down. Sure, the Wizard of Westbrook is a stud… the single most dangerous offensive weapon in the NFL, the 2nd best back in the league, the best receiving back since Faulk… but I disagree. If D-Mac goes down, we’d be lucky to go 8-8, very lucky in fact. If West goes down, we’ll be okay and here’s why.
Depth. We are deep at RB. Buck is coming off a season where he averaged over 5 yards per carry. Yes, it was in limited duty, but he made the most of every opportunity. Remember that his only start last year was against the Giants and he had over 100 yards rushing. He ran for 69 yards in the first quarter before Marty and Andy abandoned the run and let the sackfest ensue. The biggest hole in his game has been his blitz pickup and it looks like he’s worked on that per this preseason. He’s going on 3 years healthy and is running very well.
Booker, or LoBo as Tommy Lawlor calls him, was brought in to be the 3rd down back that Westbrook used to be. He’s shifty and quick, a Westbrook-lite. He is what Moats was supposed to be, although I am not convinced he could ever be a feature back. However, fact is that he doesn’t have to be. He’ll be used on gadget plays and would be the third down back with Buck starting if Westy went down.
Hunt is likely the Day 1 fullback, it seems. His blocking will improve and we know he can run. Keeping him on the roster means that he can be a HB if another HB goes down. He runs hard and can be a Buck type of back if he continues to develop. My sneaking suspicion is that Collins is a PS player and could be brought up to play FB in a pinch, moving Hunt to HB.
Overall, Buck, Booker, and Hunt should be more than adequate as backups. The gameplan would have to be altered, but not in the same way it would if D-Mac went down. Kolb is still wet behind the ears and he’d have to go through growing pains before being effective. AJ is what he is, a guy who will make some plays and make some mistakes. Westbrook means a lot to this team, but Donovan means more.