Facing Eight in the Box: With One Wideout

Khaled Elsayed continues his look at the rushing attacks that attracted the most attention from NFL defenses by examining who faced eight in the box in sets with one or ...

| 4 years ago
facing 8 peterson

Facing Eight in the Box: With One Wideout

In case you missed it, yesterday we brought you some looks at which running backs were facing the most stacked boxes. The results were hardly surprising (to us), as Frank Gore led the way, with Adrian Peterson in third sandwiched between a couple of Jets running backs.

Now while a lot can be inferred from which backs (and teams) are contending with the highest percentage of eight men in the box, you need to delve a bit deeper to understand why it is happening.

Take the 49ers and Frank Gore. When he rushed the ball, 42.25% of the time he faced eight men in the box. However, the 49ers invited this on themselves because on 53.49% of the time he rushed the ball they lined up with one or zero receivers split out (this refers to not how many receivers were on the field, but classes a tight end split out wide or in the slot, as “split out” because logically a defensive player will follow them).

So today we’re going to bring you even more data that sets about evening things up. We’re going to start by showing you the numbers when you simply look at the single- or zero-receiver split out sets, and then follow that up by looking at when they faced two receivers split out.

The League Average      

To start off, it should be noted that on average NFL teams rush the ball with a single (or fewer) receiver sets on 21.74% of their rushes. Now you might think that this would be heavily skewed by short yardage (3 yards or less needed for a first down or touchdown), but the reality is that only 17.62% of these short yardage runs featured one or fewer offensive players split out as a wide receiver, though defenses were more likely (26.54% of the time) to stack the box regardless of how many guys were split out wide.

As mentioned, Frank Gore ran from a single (or zero) split out receiver set 53.49% of the time, which was comfortably the highest in the league. Shonn Greene was second and Adrian Peterson was third. The full table can be seen below.


RankNameTeamTotal1 Split Out Carries1 Split Out %
1Frank GoreSF25813853.49%
2Shonn GreeneNYJ27612244.20%
3Adrian L. PetersonMIN34813137.64%
4Donald BrownIND1083835.19%
5Bilal PowellNYJ1103834.55%
6DeMarco MurrayDAL1615433.54%
7Mark IngramNO1565132.69%
8Felix JonesDAL1113531.53%
9Isaac RedmanPIT1103430.91%
10Michael BushCHI1143530.70%
11Jonathan DwyerPIT1564730.13%
12Vick BallardIND2115827.49%
13Ryan MathewsSD1845027.17%
14Rashad JenningsJAX1012726.73%
*LEAGUE AVGNFL13199287021.74%
15Marshawn LynchSEA3156219.68%
16Ahmad BradshawNYG2214319.46%
17Michael TurnerATL2224319.37%
18Steven JacksonSL2584718.22%
19LaRod Stephens-HowlingARZ1102018.18%
20DeAngelo WilliamsCAR1733117.92%
21Arian FosterHST3516017.09%
22Doug MartinTB3195416.93%
23BenJarvus Green-EllisCIN2784616.55%
24Stevan RidleyNE2904515.52%
25Trent RichardsonCLE2674014.98%
26Matt ForteCHI2483714.92%
27Alex GreenGB1352014.81%
28Chris D. JohnsonTEN2763813.77%
29Fred JacksonBUF1151513.04%
30Alfred MorrisWAS3354212.54%
31Darren McFaddenOAK2162712.50%
32Ray RiceBAL2572810.89%
33C.J. SpillerBUF2072210.63%
34Bernard PierceBAL1081110.19%
35Reggie BushMIA227219.25%
36Jamaal CharlesKC285258.77%
37Knowshon MorenoDEN138117.97%
38Pierre ThomasNO10587.62%
39LeSean McCoyPHI200126.00%
40Willis McGaheeDEN167105.99%
41Bryce BrownPHI11521.74%
42Mikel LeshoureDET21510.47%


Dealing with Eight Men the Most Per Rush

So that will help to explain why Frank Gore was the runaway leader in the overall stakes. However, to level the playing field let’s give you the percentage of times a running back faced a stacked box relative to when they had no more than one receiver lined up. Now, near the top of this list you’ll see guys who benefit massively from a small sample size, so remember that when you’re looking at the table.


RankNameTeam1 Split Out Carries1 Split Out, 8 in Box Carries1 Split Out, 8 in Box %
1Willis McGaheeDEN1010100.00%
2Knowshon MorenoDEN111090.91%
3BenJarvus Green-EllisCIN464189.13%
4Michael TurnerATL433888.37%
5Pierre ThomasNO8787.50%
6Steven JacksonSL474187.23%
7Fred JacksonBUF151386.67%
8Reggie BushMIA211885.71%
9DeMarco MurrayDAL544685.19%
10Darren McFaddenOAK272385.19%
11Jamaal CharlesKC252184.00%
12LeSean McCoyPHI121083.33%
13Ryan MathewsSD504182.00%
14Ahmad BradshawNYG433581.40%
15Adrian L. PetersonMIN13110580.15%
16Trent RichardsonCLE403280.00%
17Marshawn LynchSEA624979.03%
18Bilal PowellNYJ383078.95%
*LEAGUE AVGNFL2870226478.89%
19Alfred MorrisWAS423378.57%
20Shonn GreeneNYJ1229477.05%
21LaRod Stephens-HowlingARZ201575.00%
22Ray RiceBAL282175.00%
23Matt ForteCHI372772.97%
24Bernard PierceBAL11872.73%
25Michael BushCHI352571.43%
26DeAngelo WilliamsCAR312270.97%
27Isaac RedmanPIT342470.59%
28Vick BallardIND584068.97%
29Frank GoreSF1389568.84%
30C.J. SpillerBUF221568.18%
31Jonathan DwyerPIT473268.09%
32Mark IngramNO513466.67%
33Arian FosterHST604066.67%
34Stevan RidleyNE453066.67%
35Doug MartinTB543564.81%
36Rashad JenningsJAX271762.96%
37Donald BrownIND382360.53%
38Chris D. JohnsonTEN382360.53%
39Alex GreenGB201260.00%
40Felix JonesDAL352057.14%
41Bryce BrownPHI2150.00%
42Mikel LeshoureDET100.00%


Later on today we’re going to move onto what is, in my mind, a more interesting study looking at two split out receiver sets. There, because those formations force defenses to respect the passing option as well, we’ll get a better idea of which teams are really attracting more defenders into the box.

Stay tuned and that will be out later.


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled


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