Over the past three days we’ve been looking at three years worth of signature stat data focusing on the members of the offensive line whose default role is pass blocking. Well today we’re going to move in a different direction as we instead turn our collective eye to tight ends, and first, running backs to see which ones are the most (and least efficient) pass blockers in the league.
The Pass Blocking Efficiency is found when you add sacks to three quarters the value of the total number of hits and hurries, divide it by pass blocking snaps and then multiply by 100. You then take that number away from 100 and the closer the number to 100 the better. For a running back to be considered a pass blocker he cannot at any time make himself an eligible receiver and must engage or look to engage with a pass rusher.
With that little definition out of the way, let’s get to the findings.
Let’s start off by looking at which running back has given up the most pressure… something that doesn’t make good reading for Philadelphia Eagles fans. That does, of course, mean that LeSean McCoy leads the way with 32 combined sacks, hits, and hurries given up. That’s four more than the men in second spot, Matt Forte and Frank Gore. The Top 5 is filled with feature backs who rarely come off the field, rounded out with Chris Johnson and Steven Jackson as players who have more of an opportunity to give up pressure.
1 LeSean McCoy PHI 32
2 Matt Forte CHI 28
3 Frank Gore SF 28
4 Chris D. Johnson TEN 27
5 Steven Jackson SL 26
6 Jonathan Stewart CAR 25
7 Ray Rice BLT 24
8 Cadillac Williams FA 23
9 LaDainian Tomlinson RET 21
10 Adrian L. Peterson MIN 21
Staying into help
Indeed, that opportunity to give up pressure is the next area we’re going to look into, seeing which backs have spent the most time in pass protection over the past three years. The most trusted back in that regard is Ahmad Bradshaw who has been left into pass block on 347 occasions over the past three years. All the more impressive when you consider Bradshaw wasn’t an every-down back as he split time with Brandon Jacobs (who himself spent 175 plays in pass protection), showing just how much the Giants like to leave their back in to help.
After Bradshaw, you end up looking at Matt Forte and Frank Gore who, ironically, have both stayed into pass protect on 334 occasions after allowing the same number of quarterback disruptions. After the Bear and the 49er, you’ve got two other players who are in the Top 5 for total pressure allowed with the Rams’ Jackson in fourth and McCoy of the Eagles in fifth.
1 Ahmad Bradshaw NYG 347
2 Matt Forte CHI 334
3 Frank Gore SF 334
4 Steven Jackson SL 330
5 LeSean McCoy PHI 329
6 Michael Bush CHI 318
7 Fred Jackson BUF 305
8 Ray Rice BLT 293
9 Maurice Jones-Drew JAX 288
10 Cadillac Williams FA 282
Get these guys out of there
Numbers such as total pressure and most pass blocks aren’t why you’re here. No, you came to see which running backs were the most and least efficient pass blockers. Well looking at those who spent at least 100 snaps in pass protection over the past three years we can give you that answer, so let’s start with the least.
Step forward Jonathan Stewart, who may have been the most elusive back over the past three years, but is, statistically speaking, the worst in pass protection. On 182 situations the Panthers have asked him to stay in, he’s given up six sacks, five hits, and 14 hurries to give him the lowest rating of all backs by some distance.
His poor performance let players like Jerome Harrison and Reggie Bush off the hook, with both men posting low scores as they struggled when asked to block. Behind them we have Maurice Morris and more evidence that Knowshon Moreno has been something of a wasted pick for the Broncos.
1 Jonathan Stewart CAR 182 6 5 14 25 88.87
2 Jerome Harrison DET 105 4 1 6 11 91.19
3 Reggie Bush MIA 130 3 4 7 14 91.35
4 Maurice Morris FA 121 4 0 8 12 91.74
5 Knowshon Moreno DEN 143 2 2 11 15 91.78
6 Chris D. Johnson TEN 251 1 2 24 27 91.83
7 Toby Gerhart MIN 108 1 1 9 11 92.13
8 Adrian L. Peterson MIN 212 3 6 12 21 92.22
9 Rashard Mendenhall PIT 148 4 3 7 14 92.23
10 Beanie Wells ARZ 149 3 3 8 14 92.45
Beating the blitz
At the other end of the spectrum you get an idea why Brandon Jackson should be in line to spell Trent Richardson, especially on third downs. The former Packer is rarely caught out of position and has surrendered just four quarterback disruptions on 156 pass blocks. That’s marginally better than the ever-excellent Bradshaw who himself was just ahead of Packer John Kuhn. We haven’t always said the nicest things about Thomas Jones, but he finishes fourth overall, while Maurice Jones-Drew lives up to his every-down back perception, finishing in the Top 5.
1 Brandon Jackson CLV 156 4 97.92
2 Ahmad Bradshaw NYG 347 10 97.84
3 John Kuhn GB 166 5 97.74
4 Thomas Jones FA 139 5 97.30
5 Maurice Jones-Drew JAX 288 10 97.22
6 Michael Turner ATL 172 6 97.09
7 Brian Leonard CIN 160 8 96.25
8 Jason Snelling ATL 223 11 96.19
9 Marshawn Lynch SEA 142 7 96.13
10 Felix Jones DAL 210 11 95.95
We can’t say it enough, but you won’t get more accurate than looking at our grading when it comes to pass blocking as it goes into more detail than any number ever could. But for those of you who love statistics, you won’t find anything better when it comes to breaking down pass protection for running backs. Tune in later today when we run through tight ends.