Running Back Breakdown: Forcing Missed Tackles

Who is the NFL's undisputed broken tackle king? Beastmode of course, but take a look at who else features.

| 2 years ago
RB Week 3

Running Back Breakdown: Forcing Missed Tackles

RB Week 3We have broken down quarterback play and our receiver route data over the last several weeks, and now we are going to give running backs a similar treatment by taking a closer look at their success and usage from a statistical standpoint. Naturally, there is a correlation between running back statistical performance and offensive line blocking, but we believe our grading still provides the best overall picture of a player’s success beyond their blocking.

Beyond traditional rushing data, we gather a whole host of extra information on each rushing play. From the specific gap of the point of attack to run concepts and blocking schemes to first contact defender and location, all of which is utilized by NFL teams. Which player has the most success running ‘power’ concept plays? Who really faces eight defenders in the box the most often? Do players see a benefit from running behind a lead backfield blocker?

-To qualify, a running back must have had a minimum of 70 rush attempts, with 62 players meeting the qualification.

-Post-season data is included.

Forcing Missed Tackles

There is a lot more to carrying the ball than just forcing missed tackles, but it is undoubtedly an important factor and can really separate the level of play among running backs. Missed tackles will come in different forms, Whether it is a juke move that avoids contact all together, breaking an arm tackle, or a ‘truck stick’ that bowls over a defender, all are considered missed tackles. The one type of player that can occasionally be at a disadvantage are pure speed backs because there just is not a number to track for beating a defender to space with speed to gain additional yardage in terms of Elusive Rating.

Elusive Rating – Rushing Only


— In a modified version of our normal Elusive Rating, receiving was excluded to look solely at elusiveness on running plays.

— While most players’ Elusive Rating decreased when excluding receptions, Carlos Hyde had a 10.7 increase, the largest of the group.

Lowest Attempts Per Missed Tackle Forced


— Even though Marshawn Lynch’s lead in total missed tackles forced is helped by the large number of attempts, he still was the best. His 2.9 rush attempts per missed tackle forced was more than twice as often as the league average of 6.6.

— With the addition of Reggie Bush, the 49ers could still have a formidable pair of tough running backs to bring down.

— Green Bay is known for their passing game, but its pair of running backs is among the best at forcing missed tackles.

Highest Attempts Per Missed Tackle Forced


— After an impressive rookie campaign in which Andre Ellington ranked fifth in Elusive Rating, his sophomore year was disappointing as he struggled through injuries. He had 82 more carries in 2014 compared to 2013, but eight fewer missed tackles forced.

— Similarly, Doug Martin’s Attempts per Missed Tackle is down from his 2012 rookie year of 6.0, and has forced just 19 missed tackles over the last two seasons.

Highest Percentage of Attempts with a Missed Tackle


— Because it’s possible to force multiple missed tackles on any given play, we can also look at each individual play and see how often players are forcing missed tackles on a per-play basis.

— Not a lot of change at the top, but the league leaders force a missed tackle on nearly one out of four carries.

Most Runs with Multiple Missed Tackles Forced


— This one doesn’t take rate into account, but regardless it shows the level at which Lynch played at last season.

| Analyst

Matt has been an analyst for PFF since 2013. He is also a contributor to 120 Sports and a former NCAA Division-III football player.

  • lightsout85

    I really like “attempts with a MT”, it provides a more straightforward answer as to how frequently a player is forcing MT (even if Lynch is the only who really gets multiple-MT on a play enough for it to affect his overall rating much).

    However, in an upcoming one of these RB pieces, could we see something that doesn’t include plays where the RB was never tackled (or forced a MT on an attempt), ie: runs in space that went out of bounds or right into the endzone. Something like, “% of time going down(/not going down) on 1st contact”. (So we would already be eliminating attempts that were entirely clean). Legarrette Blount strikes me as a guy who’d rate well in this metric.