One of the keys to having a successful offense in the NFL is balance. With balance, opposing defenses won’t be able to put 8 in the box to stop the run or run nickel or dime defenses to stop the pass. Continuing my theme of lists, is my top ten offensive trios. A trio consists of a quarterback, running back, receiver or tight end. Considering how the Celtics just won a NBA Championship with their “Big Three” I thought it would be fitting to put together a list of the top ten offensive trios in the league.
1. Tony Romo, Marion Barber, Terrell Owens Cowboys: Out of all the trios in the league, this one is the most balanced. Romo and Owens both rank among the top five players at their position and Barber is among the ten best running backs. This trio could be even more effective this year as Romo now has a full year of Jason Garrett’s offense under his belt and Barber is now the feature back. This team will be fun to watch during the course of the season but the playoffs is another story.
2. Peyton Manning, Joseph Addai, Reggie Wayne Colts: The Colts just barely missed the top spot on the list. Manning is arguably the best quarterback in the game and Wayne is one of the best receivers in the league. But Addai and Barber are about even so it comes down to Owens against Wayne. Owens is the better bet now, but considering Wayne keeps improving, the Colts could top the list next year.
3. Tom Brady, Laurence Maroney, Randy Moss Patriots: Brady and Moss could both possibly be the best player at their respective positions. The only problem is the Patriots were passing so much, we didn’t see Maroney’s full potential. He showed glimpses during the Patriots Super Bowl run, but if he improves this year, the Patriots could be even higher on next years list.
4. Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates Chargers: When looking at this trio, you would think they would be ranked much higher. But the top three trios have something the Chargers don’t, that’s a top 5 quarterback. Rivers has played solid the last few years, but he isn’t top 5 caliber yet. As of now, Rivers is a borderline top 10 guy. But the other guys that make up the trio are something special. Tomlinson is a once a decade back who can do it all while Gates has redefined the tight end position. If Rivers improves, this trio has the potential to be in the top 3 next year.
5. Derek Anderson, Jamal Lewis, Braylon Edwards Browns: This could be the most underrated trio in the league. Anderson had a great season last year and showed he could be one of the top quarterbacks in the league for years to come. Lewis went under the radar last year and was fifth in the league in rushing with 1304 yards. Edwards also had a huge year and is developing into one of the premier receivers in the league. Plus with the other weapons on offense, this trio could be even better this year.
6. Eli Manning, Brandon Jacobs, Plaxico Burress Giants: It seems hard to believe, but this is the trio that won the Super Bowl last year. Manning has improved over the last few years and is now among the elite quarterbacks in the league. Burress is among the top receivers in the league and had a career year last year catching 12 touchdown passes. Jacobs wasn’t fully healthy last year but still managed to average over 5 yards a carry. This isn’t the flashiest trios in the group, but they are all productive and most importantly, they win.
7. Marc Bulger, Steven Jackson, Torry Holt Rams: This trio had injury problems last year, but when healthy, they are among the best in the league. Bulger had trouble staying healthy last year as he had a weak offensive line. But when healthy, he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Jackson had injury problems as well, but is among the top 10 backs in the league. Holt though stayed healthy and had another season with 90 plus catches and 1100 yards showing why he is one of the best receivers this decade. This trio can go nowhere but up if the offensive line improves.
8. Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Grant, Greg Jennings Packers: If Brett Favre returned, this trio would be much higher on the list. But since we haven’t seen much of Rodgers, the number 8 spot isn’t a bad start. Grant really impressed late in the season last year and should be even more effective this year as he will start from the start. Jennings showed why he is developing into one of the best young receivers in the league as he had 12 touchdowns last year on only 53 catches. This trio is very young, so they can only move up on the list.
9. Ben Roethlisberger, Willie Parker, Santonio Holmes Steelers: With this trio, the Steelers have lots of youth and speed. Parker was having another great season until it got cut short by a broken leg. He should be effective again this year as he now has Rashard Mendenhall to take away some of the load. Holmes is developing into the number one receiver for the Steelers and is the teams deep threat averaging 18 yards a catch last year. Roethlisberger at 26, is the quarterback of the present and the future and had a career year last year with 32 touchdowns. This trio will have a big part in if the Steelers make the playoffs in the loaded AFC.
10. David Garrard, Fred Taylor, Reggie Williams Jaguars: Garrard was one of the feel good stories of the NFL last season as he threw 18 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions in his first year as a starter. Taylor is one of the league’s most underrated backs as he had 1,202 yards last year. Plus, the Jaguars have Maurice Jones-Drew who is fully capable of starting if Taylor gets hurt. The Jaguars don’t have a clear number one receiver yet but Williams had 10 touchdowns last season and is starting to shed the bust label he earned from critics early on in his career. This may not be the strongest trio, but if the Jaguars find a number one receiver who could possibly be Jerry Porter who they signed in free agency, the Jaguars could be higher on the list.