Facing Eight in the Box

Khaled Elsayed opens a multi-day look at runners and the defensive fronts they faced in 2012.

| 4 years ago

Facing Eight in the Box

Sometimes you get an idea in your head. Whether it be commentators telling you something or whether it’s you looking to make some logical assumptions, ideas and theories stick.

On Tuesday, the PFF twitter feed was inundated with messages telling us that the Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles (who had himself a very good year) constantly faced eight men in the box. Now I’ll be honest in that I watched a fair few Chiefs games and did differing types of analysis on them, but it didn’t strike me as right that Charles faced any more than the league average.

So I decided to look at what the numbers said, and while it started off as more of a rebuttal to some criticism, it developed into an interesting look at which players faced the most defenders in the box.

With that in mind, I bring to you what I think is the first real look at players facing eight or more men in the box to see which players truly had to overcome it.

The 49er Way

If you’ve missed our tweeting on it, there really was only one contender to this crown and his name was Frank Gore. An astonishing 42.25% of his runs saw him face at least eight defenders in the box, although we’ll explain why some of this isn’t down to the schemes and offensive formations used by the 49ers.

But for now here’s the entire list of rushers with at least 100 designed carries. The league average came out at 23.25%. Stay tuned because tomorrow we’re going to add some more data to the mix when we look at how the use of offensive personnel impacts this.

RankNameTeam7 or Fewer in Box8 or More in BoxTotal
1Frank GoreSF14910942.25%
2Shonn GreeneNYJ16810839.13%
3Adrian L. PetersonMIN22812034.48%
4Bilal PowellNYJ743632.73%
5DeMarco MurrayDAL1115031.06%
6Ryan MathewsSD1364826.09%
7Vick BallardIND1565526.07%
8Mark IngramNO1164025.64%
9Isaac RedmanPIT822825.45%
10Michael TurnerATL1665625.23%
11Donald BrownIND812725.00%
12Jonathan DwyerPIT1173925.00%
13Rashad JenningsJAX762524.75%
14Michael BushCHI862824.56%
15Arian FosterHST2678423.93%
16Steven JacksonSL1976123.64%
* LEAGUE10130306923.25%
17Stevan RidleyNE2266422.07%
18DeAngelo WilliamsCAR1363721.39%
19Marshawn LynchSEA2486721.27%
20BenJarvus Green-EllisCIN2205820.86%
21Alfred MorrisWAS2676820.30%
22Ahmad BradshawNYG1774419.91%
23Felix JonesDAL892219.82%
24LaRod Stephens-HowlingARZ902018.18%
25Trent RichardsonCLE2194817.98%
26Ray RiceBAL2154216.34%
27Doug MartinTB2675216.30%
28Chris D. JohnsonTEN2334315.58%
29Darren McFaddenOAK1833315.28%
30Bernard PierceBAL921614.81%
31Fred JacksonBUF981714.78%
32Matt ForteCHI2123614.52%
33Alex GreenGB1161914.07%
34Reggie BushMIA1963113.66%
35Willis McGaheeDEN1462112.57%
36Pierre ThomasNO921312.38%
37Jamaal CharlesKC2523311.58%
38C.J. SpillerBUF1842311.11%
39Knowshon MorenoDEN1241410.14%
40LeSean McCoyPHI1802010.00%
41Bryce BrownPHI105108.70%
42Mikel LeshoureDET202136.05%


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled


  • http://twitter.com/adamcohen15 Adam Cohen

    What about performance against 8 in the box?

    • http://twitter.com/MHR_Topher Topher Doll

      Agreed, I don’t really cared who faced the most 8-men boxes, I care how they played in those situations.

    • http://www.theforeclosuresinfo.com/foreclosure-list.html What is Foreclosure

      well niners went to the SB, do some creative thinking …

  • LightsOut85

    Now this is what I like to see (…no if only more of this stuff went to the premium stats)

    Probably too much to ask for now, but semi-recently ESPN reported a stat that MIN faced the most 8+ over the past few years (IDK how long they said) & I’d be curious if your #s agree

  • dorkus

    It should be noted that AD stopped facing as many 8 man fronts at the end of the year, as teams realized that they were left without a safety net once he hit the second level. If you look through the later games you will see teams backing off, even though there was not much threat from the passing game.

  • [email protected]

    Interesting that 2 of the top 4 are NYJets, i guess thats the Mark Sanchez effect. I expected Marshawn to be higher, is that a sign of respect for Russell WIlson?

  • Brandon

    The niners used the power run game more often than any team. And with no WRs outside of crabtree that are given due respect and vernon davis being the only other receiving threat on the team for the longest time, why else would you not try to contain the solitary true threat on the niners? It would be interesting to see the difference in 8 man fronts when Kaep took over and when Smith was QB.

  • Mikel Leshoure

    I suck

    • Jim Schwartz

      You’re the best!

  • steve

    Look at me I’m PFF – Jamaal Charles didn’t face 8 in the box, his offensive line did!

  • Mike

    Wait I think you messed up. Jamaal Charles faced 11 in the box on every single play uphill 20 miles through the snow and is amazing.

  • Mike

    I have a hard time believing these stats. How can Chris Johnson and Jamaal Charles be so low?

  • Petitfour

    I think that there are some factors that have not been taken into consideration. For instance how many of the carries was in the redzone? In 2012, 25 % of M. Turners carries was in the RZ (55 of 222), compared to S. Jacksons 12.5 % (32 of 257). Furthermore 12 % of Turners carries was RZ with goal to go, compared to Jacksons 5.5 %. In both of these situations the likelyhood of 8 in the box is far greater than in your own territory, or a midfield. Add to that the fact that defences knew that having Turner on the field meant a high likelyhood of a runningplay – and therefore lined up accordingly. Generally I would think that something like this will be the case of all 1. and 2. down backs on explosive offences, and therefore you will get a mixed statistic. It would be more interesting to see a stat based on plays outside the RZ or at least outside the 10.