Running Back Breakdown: Run Lengths – Part 2

Which running backs were stopped for short runs the most? Which the fewest? We dive into the numbers.

| 2 years ago
RB Week 5

Running Back Breakdown: Run Lengths – Part 2

RB Week 5We 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.

Run Lengths

Earlier today we looked at players who posted a high percentage of big plays and longer runs, so now it is time to look at which players were stopped for short runs the least and most often.

Lowest Percentage of Runs for Two Yards or Shorter


— Maybe the most notable stat here is that only one qualifying player was stopped for 2 or fewer yards less than one-third of the time.

— Despite having the 31st-ranked run-blocking offensive line in front of him, Lamar Miller was stopped for two or fewer yards less often than all but three other running backs.

Highest Percentage of Runs for Two Yards or Shorter


— It didn’t seem to matter who Ben Tate ran behind last year, as he had at least 46 percent of his carries with each team go for 2 yards or fewer.

— Doug Martin wasn’t the only Buccaneers back to have a high percentage of short runs. Tampa Bay as a whole gained 2 or fewer yards on 51.4 percent of their runs, the highest in the league.

— Despite running behind our third-ranked offensive line in run blocking, Alfred Blue was stopped for 2 or fewer yards over half of the time, and 10 percent more often than teammate Arian Foster.

Lowest Percentage of Runs for No Gain or Loss


— The Chiefs’ offensive line ranked in the bottom six in run blocking, but that didn’t keep Jamaal Charles from getting past the line of scrimmage on nearly nine out of ten runs.

— Jonas Gray rarely failed to gain yards during his brief playing time while teammate Shane Vereen was stopped for no gain or a loss more than any other running back.

Highest Percentage of Runs for No Gain or Loss


— One of the most fascinating stats I came across in this series is that while Jamaal Charles was stopped for no gain or a loss less often than any other running back, teammate Knile Davis was similarly stopped over twice as often and just off of the highest percentage in the league.

— Interestingly, Isaiah Crowell ranked ninth in the highest percentage of 10-plus yard runs, but also was stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage on one-quarter of his carries.


Follow Matt on Twitter: @PFF_Matt



| 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

    Charles’ marks here jive with his spot as the RB who was hit least in the backfield. Could any of the staff comment on observations they’ve had? That is, is his OL just not-dominant past the LoS, but was very good at not letting guys into the backfield? Or is he just THAT good behind the LoS (in terms of speed & vision, he knows where to go & gets to the LoS fast before anyone can get him for a loss or even a hit)?