Facing 8 in the Box: With 2 or More Wideouts

The third piece in this series looks at a telling set of data. Khaled Elsayed shows which defenses stacked the box most often when faced with two or more receivers ...

| 4 years ago

Facing 8 in the Box: With 2 or More Wideouts

Earlier today, to add some context to which running backs were facing the most stacked boxes, we looked at which teams were doing so with a single receiver split out.

That was something of a starter and what we’re about to do now is more of a main course in adding context to the piece we released yesterday. Because now we’re going to look at which rushers had to face eight men (or more) in the box when their offense lined up with two or more receivers split away from the formation.

Logically, that is the real determining test. When defenses are adjusting to just one receiver split out wide, it gives them an extra defender to put in the box. When there are two then it becomes about whether a safety comes into the box to be the extra and form an eight-man front.

So let’s start by seeing which defenses used the most stacked boxes.

Bears and Bills

At one end of the spectrum stands a team, the Buffalo Bills, that showed eight men in the box against run plays with two-plus split receivers a league-high 23.85% of the time. At the other end, the Chicago Bears responded the same way on just 5.19% of runs. That gives you an idea of how aggressive both teams were in shutting down the opposing run game, or, if you like, how confident they were in their front seven handling business.

Here’s the full list:

RankTeamvs. 2 Split Out8 in the Box8 in the Box %
*LEAGUE AVG543468612.62%

Rushers Dealing with Stacked Boxes

But which running backs dealt with the biggest stacked fronts when their teams had two receivers split out? Well, DeAngelo Williams is the man to lead the way — he faced eight or more men in the box on 25% of his rushes in this scenario. Still, his relatively low sample size makes the 24.78% of Stevan Ridley stand out all the more, making a mockery of the idea that a top quarterback prevents teams from loading up in the box.

Again, the full list:

RankNameTeam7 or Fewer in the Box8 or More in the BoxStacked %
1DeAngelo WilliamsCAR361225.00%
2Stevan RidleyNE852824.78%
3Arian FosterHST1494221.99%
4Vick BallardIND541319.40%
5Alex GreenGB27618.18%
6Frank GoreSF651417.72%
7Donald BrownIND22415.38%
8Alfred MorrisWAS1933414.98%
9Steven JacksonSL1051814.63%
10Ray RiceBAL1252114.38%
11Rashad JenningsJAX24414.29%
12Bryce BrownPHI36614.29%
13Willis McGaheeDEN37613.95%
14Mikel LeshoureDET751112.79%
* LEAGUE AVG474868612.62%
15Jonathan DwyerPIT42612.50%
16C.J. SpillerBUF52711.86%
17Shonn GreeneNYJ981311.71%
18Chris D. JohnsonTEN1511911.18%
19BenJarvus Green-EllisCIN1121411.11%
20Trent RichardsonCLE1201511.11%
21Michael TurnerATL971211.01%
22LeSean McCoyPHI57710.94%
23Bernard PierceBAL66810.81%
24LaRod Stephens-HowlingARZ43510.42%
25Isaac RedmanPIT35410.26%
26Adrian L. PetersonMIN1161310.08%
27Marshawn LynchSEA1251410.07%
28Doug MartinTB148169.76%
29Fred JacksonBUF3039.09%
30Bilal PowellNYJ4049.09%
31Reggie BushMIA136138.72%
32Ryan MathewsSD7778.33%
33Pierre ThomasNO4648.00%
34Knowshon MorenoDEN2527.41%
35Darren McFaddenOAK9876.67%
36Mark IngramNO8466.67%
37Jamaal CharlesKC175126.42%
38Ahmad BradshawNYG9066.25%
39DeMarco MurrayDAL6146.15%
40Matt ForteCHI14196.00%
41Felix JonesDAL3325.71%
42Michael BushCHI5223.70%

Tomorrow we’ll be moving on to something a little different with these numbers. Looking not just at who faced what, but starting to look at the success teams and runners had depending on how many men were in the box.


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled


  • e

    Am i missing a qualifying condition? first article, LeShoure 215 total carries, next article 1 carry against 8 in box and only one split out, here with two or more split out, 75 carries against 7-or-fewer, 11 with 8 in box.

    • http://twitter.com/dinolovesbunni ALBTB

      7 or fewer in the box with 2 splitouts. Doesn’t count 8 or more, or more or less than 2 split outs.

      And also, shame on you PFF for ruining all of our well thought of football conventions. LT not important? Jamaal Charles not facing 28 players in the box? Teams afraid to load the box against elite QBs? My world is shattered.

      • Jeff

        Left tackle is important, but not for the reason you think. Most quarterbacks are right handed and throw better running right than running left. If you can run off left tackle you can better set up the play action bootleg.

        Granted this only matters if your quarterback is good at throwing on designed rollouts

  • LightsOut85

    I may have missed something, but shouldn’t these new numbers just be a subtraction of the last 2 articles? That is, taking the total carries & total 8-in-box #s, and subtracting the “1 or less split wide” carries & 8-in-boxes? Although quickly, I did this on Excel & got different numbers (the highest “8-in-box”% for 2+ was around 15% with Arian Foster).

  • Paul K

    Perhaps Stevan Ridley saw 8 in the box whenever his team was 21 points ahead in the fourth quarter (often), and everyone in the stadium knew that the Patriots were playing a prevent offense.

    Perhaps the Patriots stacked 8 in the box because the three other teams in the AFC East all had poor quarterbacks, so that the Pats only feared the run.