We’ve covered passers, receivers, and defenders in recent weeks of the 32 Observations. This time around we switch to the players who run with the ball. Historically it’s all been about yards and touchdowns, and whoever can accumulate the most of those have been considered the best backs. Of course, you are smart enough to know there is more to it than that. Here we look at how various running backs are doing in different situations while using more than just yards and touchdowns.
Buffalo Bills: While a number of big runs have helped C.J. Spiller achieve a league-leading 7.3 yard rushing average, he has also consistently run for high yardage. In fact, 56.3 percent of Spiller’s runs have been for 5 or more yards, which is the highest rate for any running back. The next highest for a starter is 42.5 percent.
Miami Dolphins: Although Reggie Bush has 126 carries on the year, only eight have come in the red zone. That is just 6.3 percent of his carries, which is the lowest rate for current starters.
New England Patriots: While Stevan Ridley has been impressive in the run game, he has also had success in pass protection. He has a perfect 100.0 percent Pass Blocking Efficiency on his 34 pass blocks.
New York Jets: Although the Jets haven’t had much success running with the ball, they might have the answer in Bilal Powell. While he has yet to have a run for more than 11 yards, he has run for at least 3 yards on 74.2 percent of his carries, which is the highest for backs with at least 20 attempts.
Baltimore Ravens: Ray Rice has 144 carries on the year. He has rushed for positive yards on all but 16 of them. His 88.9 percent positive yards rate is the highest in the league for backs with at least 30 carries.
Cincinnati Bengals: There has been only one game this year where BenJarvus Green-Ellis has averaged more than 4 yards per carry, and that was in Week 1 against the Ravens.
Cleveland Browns: In the first three quarters of games, Trent Richardson has 550 yards on 137 carries for 4.0 yards per carry. In the fourth quarter, he had just 15 carries for 39 yards, or 2.6 yards per carry.
Pittsburgh Steelers: While Isaac Redman is stuck in a committee of backs in Pittsburgh, and runs behind a below-average run-blocking line, he has still found some success. He averages a tackle avoided every 0.21 carries, which is the third-highest rate in the league for backs with at least 30 carries.
Houston Texans: Arian Foster has 38 carries on third downs, which is by far the most in the league. The next most by any player is 23, and the next most by a back is 16.
Indianapolis Colts: While Donald Brown has 361 rushing yards, only 39 of them have come in the first quarter.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Rashad Jennings hasn’t quite filled the shoes of Maurice Jones-Drew in his opportunity. Only 18.9 percent of his carries have gone for 5 or more yards. Only eight of his 74 carries have gone beyond 5 yards.
Tennessee Titans: Only 35.4 percent of Chris Johnson’s 869 rushing yards have come after contact, the lowest for all running backs with at least 30 carries.
Denver Broncos: Last year, the most fumbles any back had was five. Willis McGahee already has five fumbles, which leads the league for running backs.
Kansas City Chiefs: There have been 38 plays where Jamaal Charles was contacted behind the line of scrimmage. On those plays he has gained -44 yards, which is the lowest in the league. On the plays he is first contacted at or beyond the line of scrimmage, he averages 6.7 yards per carry.
Oakland Raiders: On average, the Raiders have had their runners get contacted after just 1.3 yards, which is the third-lowest rate in the league.
San Diego Chargers: At one point it was Jackie Battle getting the carries in San Diego. Part of that might be his 46.6 percent Breakaway Percentage, which is the second-highest for backs with at least 30 carries, behind Adrian Peterson. On the other hand, Ryan Mathews has a Breakaway Percentage of just 10.3 percent.
Dallas Cowboys: There have been eight times where Felix Jones has run with the ball when the Cowboys needed 1 or 2 yards for a first down. He’s gotten the necessary yards for a first down all eight times.
New York Giants: Ahmad Bradshaw stays in to block on 42.9 percent of his pass plays, which is among the highest in the league. Part of the reason is because he is so good at it, with a Pass Blocking Efficiency of 97.5, which is the highest for backs with at least 50 pass blocks.
Philadelphia Eagles: Although LeSean McCoy has converted only 60.9 percent of his 2nd/3rd/4th-and-short situations, he has made 122 yards on his 23 attempts to lead the league.
Washington Redskins: Alfred Morris has 713 yards on 135 carries in the first three quarters, but just 80 yards on 29 carries in the fourth quarter.
Chicago Bears: Of Matt Forte’s 578 rushing yards, 260 have come in the first quarter. That is 45.0 percent of his rushing yards, which is the highest rate for starting running backs.
Detroit Lions: Mikel Leshoure has an Elusive Rating of 9.7, which is the lowest in the league. He averages 2.03 yards after contact per attempt, and has just six tackles avoided on his runs and receptions.
Green Bay Packers: Of Alex Green’s 85 carries, 64 of them have come between the tackles, or 75 percent. He has averaged 3.4 yards per carry between the tackles, which isn’t great, but still better than his 2.0 yards per carry running to the outside.
Minnesota Vikings: Although there have been 39 times where Adrian Peterson was first contacted behind the line of scrimmage, he has managed a league-leading 57 yards on those attempts.
Atlanta Falcons: Jacquizz Rodgers averages 3.7 yards per carry. He has one carry for 43 yards against the Eagles. On his other 44 carries, he has just 123 yards. That’s 2.8 yards per carry if you ignore his one big run.
Carolina Panthers: While Mike Tolbert has been given only 22 rushing opportunities on the year, he has yet to have a run for negative yards.
New Orleans Saints: Two-thirds of Mark Ingram’s 70 carries have come running to the right rather than the left, which is the highest in the league for players with at least 25 carries. However, he averages 3.5 yards regardless of if he runs to the right or left. Chris Ivory has had 71 percent of his carries go to the right rather than the left. He averages 8.8 yards per carry when going to the right, compared to 2.8 yards per carry to the left.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Unlike the Saints backs, Doug Martin is better running to the left rather than the right. Martin has 616 yards on 101 carries for a 6.1 average when running to the left compared to 246 yards on 72 yards running to the right for a 3.4 average.
Arizona Cardinals: Of LaRod Stephens-Howling’s 184 rushing yards, 164 (or 89.1 percent) have come after contact. That is the highest amount for rushers with at least 30 carries.
St. Louis Rams: Daryl Richardson has nearly the same amount of carries outside the tackles as inside (35 to 34). However, Richardson has played significantly better outside the tackles with a 7.9 rushing average outside, and a 3.4 rushing average inside.
San Francisco 49ers: On average, the 49ers have averaged 3.2 yards before their runner is contacted, thanks to a great run-blocking line. That is the highest rate in the league.
Seattle Seahawks: Marshawn Lynch has eight carries with two or more players missing tackles on him, which is the most in the league.
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