3 Years of PBE: Running Backs

| 5 years ago

3 Years of PBE: Running Backs

Over the past three days we’ve been looking at three years worth of signature stat data focusing on the members of the offensive line whose default role is pass blocking. Well today we’re going to move in a different direction as we instead turn our collective eye to tight ends, and first, running backs to see which ones are the most (and least efficient) pass blockers in the league.

The Pass Blocking Efficiency is found when you add sacks to three quarters the value of the total number of hits and hurries, divide it by pass blocking snaps and then multiply by 100. You then take that number away from 100 and the closer the number to 100 the better. For a running back to be considered a pass blocker he cannot at any time make himself an eligible receiver and must engage or look to engage with a pass rusher.

With that little definition out of the way, let’s get to the findings.


Total Pressure

Let’s start off by looking at which running back has given up the most pressure… something that doesn’t make good reading for Philadelphia Eagles fans. That does, of course, mean that LeSean McCoy leads the way with 32 combined sacks, hits, and hurries given up. That’s four more than the men in second spot, Matt Forte and Frank Gore. The Top 5 is filled with feature backs who rarely come off the field, rounded out with Chris Johnson and Steven Jackson as players who have more of an opportunity to give up pressure.


RankNameCurrent TeamTotal Pressure
1LeSean McCoyPHI32
2Matt ForteCHI28
3Frank GoreSF28
4Chris D. JohnsonTEN27
5Steven JacksonSL26
6Jonathan StewartCAR25
7Ray RiceBLT24
8Cadillac WilliamsFA23
9LaDainian TomlinsonRET21
10Adrian L. PetersonMIN21


Staying into help

Indeed, that opportunity to give up pressure is the next area we’re going to look into, seeing which backs have spent the most time in pass protection over the past three years. The most trusted back in that regard is Ahmad Bradshaw who has been left into pass block on 347 occasions over the past three years. All the more impressive when you consider Bradshaw wasn’t an every-down back as he split time with Brandon Jacobs (who himself spent 175 plays in pass protection), showing just how much the Giants like to leave their back in to help.

After Bradshaw, you end up looking at Matt Forte and Frank Gore who, ironically, have both stayed into pass protect on 334 occasions after allowing the same number of quarterback disruptions. After the Bear and the 49er, you’ve got two other players who are in the Top 5 for total pressure allowed with the Rams’ Jackson in fourth and McCoy of the Eagles in fifth.


RankNameCurrent TeamPass Protects
1Ahmad BradshawNYG347
2Matt ForteCHI334
3Frank GoreSF334
4Steven JacksonSL330
5LeSean McCoyPHI329
6Michael BushCHI318
7Fred JacksonBUF305
8Ray RiceBLT293
9Maurice Jones-DrewJAX288
10Cadillac WilliamsFA282


Get these guys out of there

Numbers such as total pressure and most pass blocks aren’t why you’re here. No, you came to see which running backs were the most and least efficient pass blockers. Well looking at those who spent at least 100 snaps in pass protection over the past three years we can give you that answer, so let’s start with the least.

Step forward Jonathan Stewart, who may have been the most elusive back over the past three years, but is, statistically speaking, the worst in pass protection. On 182 situations the Panthers have asked him to stay in, he’s given up six sacks, five hits, and 14 hurries to give him the lowest rating of all backs by some distance.

His poor performance let players like Jerome Harrison and Reggie Bush off the hook, with both men posting low scores as they struggled when asked to block. Behind them we have Maurice Morris and more evidence that Knowshon Moreno has been something of a wasted pick for the Broncos.


RankNameCurrent TeamPass ProtectsSacksHitsHurriesTotal PressurePBE
1Jonathan StewartCAR18265142588.87
2Jerome HarrisonDET1054161191.19
3Reggie BushMIA1303471491.35
4Maurice MorrisFA1214081291.74
5Knowshon MorenoDEN14322111591.78
6Chris D. JohnsonTEN25112242791.83
7Toby GerhartMIN1081191192.13
8Adrian L. PetersonMIN21236122192.22
9Rashard MendenhallPIT1484371492.23
10Beanie WellsARZ1493381492.45


Beating the blitz

At the other end of the spectrum you get an idea why Brandon Jackson should be in line to spell Trent Richardson, especially on third downs. The former Packer is rarely caught out of position and has surrendered just four quarterback disruptions on 156 pass blocks. That’s marginally better than the ever-excellent Bradshaw who himself was just ahead of Packer John Kuhn. We haven’t always said the nicest things about Thomas Jones, but he finishes fourth overall, while Maurice Jones-Drew lives up to his every-down back perception, finishing in the Top 5.


RankNameCurrent TeamPass ProtectsTotal PressurePBE
1Brandon JacksonCLV156497.92
2Ahmad BradshawNYG3471097.84
3John KuhnGB166597.74
4Thomas JonesFA139597.30
5Maurice Jones-DrewJAX2881097.22
6Michael TurnerATL172697.09
7Brian LeonardCIN160896.25
8Jason SnellingATL2231196.19
9Marshawn LynchSEA142796.13
10Felix JonesDAL2101195.95


We can’t say it enough, but you won’t get more accurate than looking at our grading when it comes to pass blocking as it goes into more detail than any number ever could. But for those of you who love statistics, you won’t find anything better when it comes to breaking down pass protection for running backs. Tune in later today when we run through tight ends.



Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled … and our main feed too: @ProFootbalFocus



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