Signature Stats Snapshot: Elusive Rating, Revisited

| November 18, 2011

We’ve been taking a look at some of the unique Signature Stats that we keep here at Pro Football Focus to bring everybody, not just PFF Premium subscribers, some of the good stuff.

Last time around we returned for another look at Accuracy Percentage, showing you yet more statistics that prove that Aaron Rodgers is playing, you know, pretty well. This week we’re going to cast our eye over the Elusive Rating once again, where there is no longer a runaway leader, but rather a competition heating up for the top spots.

 

 

 

Check back on the Elusive Rating piece we put up earlier this season for some more talk about how the statistic is built, but quickly, here’s a bit from that article:

“We combine a runner’s carries and receptions to give a total ball handling opportunities figure.  We then combine the number of missed tackles that player forced against both the run and the pass to get a total missed tackles forced figure, which is then divided by the ball-handling opportunities.  This figure then gets multiplied by a player’s yards after contact per carry average (*100) to get the final Elusive Rating.  In essence the rating is a combination of how often players force missed tackles and how much yardage they generate after contact on a per carry basis.”

 

Coming back to the pack

Earlier in the season, Buffalo’s Fred Jackson was leading the Elusive Rating by a ludicrous margin, and posting the kind of figures that we hadn’t seen before in the three years of data we have. Since that point though he has come back towards the pack, and has actually fallen behind Jonathan Stewart, a regular at the sharp end. It’s no coincidence that Jackson’s performance (and that of the Bills in general) has tailed-off as they’ve suffered numerous injuries to the offensive line and been forced to re-shuffle in a major way up front.

Jackson, now in second place, edges New Orleans’ pocket rocket Darren Sproles into third. The pint-sized scatback has forced 15 missed tackles from his 51 carries and sits with an Elusive Rating of 67.1, ahead of Pro Bowl candidates like Matt Forte and Adrian Peterson. Sproles has been a revelation for the Saints, flourishing in the role that Sean Payton carved out specifically for Reggie Bush before the team decided to move on.

 

An Eye on Murray

Rookie sensation DeMarco Murray has shot up the leaderboard to the right end of the table after his hot start in Dallas, and has already forced 16 missed tackles from defenders. That’s good enough for 14th place in the NFL and four more than somebody like Cedric Benson, who has 52 more attempts. Murray’s 3.75 yards per carry after contact also trails only Jackson and Sproles.

Given Murray’s hot start and the return of Felix Jones from injury, it’ll be very interesting to see how his rating is affected for the rest of the season. For comparison’s sake, Jones himself is averaging just 2.76 yards per carry after contact, and has forced 11 missed tackles on his 63 attempts. There is little doubt that given the same set of blockers in front, Murray is dramatically outperforming Jones, and might just be the running back the Cowboys have been searching for.

 

A New Low

At the ugly end of the scale, Thomas Jones is saved from last place in yards per carry after contact by Jacksonville’s Deji Karim. Karim is averaging just 1.45 yards per carry after contact, a fraction worse than Jones’ 1.46. Karim has forced four missed tackles to Jones’ two so he does wind up with a better overall Elusive Rating. Jones finds himself spared from his regular spot as ‘least elusive back in football’ by Cadillac Williams. Though Jones is plumbing new depths with a rating of 6.0, Cadillac is outdoing that with a rating of just 3.2, having failed to force a single missed tackle on 60 attempts rushing the ball and forcing just a single missed tackle from his 14 receptions.

 

Forte Forcing Misses

Forte now leads the league in forced missed tackles, with 37 running the football and a further 11 as a receiver. That puts him on pace to record the highest number that we have counted since PFF started collecting data in the 2008 season. Forte is getting a lot of credit for the yardage he is accumulating from scrimmage but if you want to lend weight to his Pro-Bowl credentials then these figures help to show that he is doing it still with some patchy blocking in front of him. Forte isn’t just running through gaping holes to daylight, but he’s having to make defenders miss and gain significant yards after contact to make those yards.

 

Check out the rest of the top and bottom performers to see how your team’s back is performing.

 

Elusive Rating, Top 15

Rank
Player
Team
Attempts
Receptions
Yco/Att
MT Rush
MT Rec
Elusive Rating
1Jonathan StewartCAR75272.79171382.0
2Fred JacksonBUF163343.8434678.0
3Darren SprolesNO51593.8815467.1
4Kendall HunterSF5452.9813065.7
5Matt ForteCHI166422.84371165.6
6Pierre ThomasNO72322.7215962.8
7DeMarco MurrayDAL100153.7516362.0
8Ahmad BradshawNYG111242.8220960.6
9Michael TurnerATL17992.8336257.1
10Ryan MathewsSD117333.0322452.4
11Adrian L. PetersonMIN180163.1330251.1
12Ben TateHST12253.2020050.5
13Felix JonesDAL63142.7611350.2
14LeSean McCoyPHI164312.7828648.5
15James StarksGB109222.7618446.4

Elusive Rating, Bottom 15

Rank
Player
Team
Attempts
Receptions
Yco/Att
MT Rush
MT Rec
Elusive Rating
41Bernard ScottCIN6582.318025.3
42Arian FosterHST171312.47101024.4
43Daniel ThomasMIA9972.0510223.2
44Chris D. JohnsonTEN148351.9316421.0
45Michael BushOAK108142.538220.7
46Dexter McClusterKC61272.395219.0
47Lance BallDEN5561.855118.2
48Mark IngramNO9392.056318.1
49Cedric BensonCIN15262.0112116.6
50Ryan GrantGB6981.996015.5
51Tim HightowerWAS84102.366015.0
52Ricky WilliamsBLT5482.853013.8
53Deji KarimJAX55121.454213.0
54Thomas JonesKC7031.46216.0
55Cadillac WilliamsSL60142.33013.2

 

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