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Chargers backfield can be most explosive in 2011

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wow_junky
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Post by Thickfreakness Fri 24 Jun 2011, 3:29 pm

Thanks to Mike Tolbert’s better-than-expected ability to break big runs, San Diego’s backfield can compete with league powers Kansas City and Oakland and is a threat to rush for 20 yards no matter who gets the ball.

SAN DIEGO – The AFC West is a run-dominated league.

Sure, receivers Brandon Lloyd (Denver) and Dwayne Bowe (Kansas City) each made the Pro Bowl, as did Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

But Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles had one of the most efficient seasons ever, averaging 6.38 yards per carry – two-tenths shy of Jim Brown’s all-time record. By contrast, Chris Johnson averaged just 5.6 yards per carry during his historic ’09 season.

Oakland’s Darren McFadden settled for second fiddle despite averaging 5.2 yards per carry himself, topping 100 rushing yards six times in spite of missing time due to injury.

Kansas City (164.2 rushing yards per game) and Oakland (155.9) finished No. 1 and No. 2 in the NFL.

Even Denver’s first-round rookie quarterback Tim Tebow got most of his playing time as a ball-carrier, and Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell is an above-average scrambler.

With first-round pick Ryan Mathews hampered by an ankle injury most of the season, converted fullback Mike Tolbert getting the most carries of any Chargers player and Rivers tugging the entire offense along with 4,710 passing yards, circumstances seemed to dictate runs of 20 yards or longer would be rare.

That wasn’t the case. Tolbert, 5-foot-9, 243 pounds, seems destined by nature to be a short-yardage, between-the-tackles back. He did excel in that area last season, notching 11 touchdowns. But as often as he plowed through a linebacker for a two-yard score, he stiff-armed a safety after bouncing through the rest of the defense.

McFadden and Charles are known for explosive runs that put points on the board fast. It’s no surprise they led the AFC West with their rate of explosive runs (one per 21.8 carries for McFadden and one per 22.1 carries for Charles).

But who do you think finished third? San Diego’s jitterbug Darren Sproles? Perhaps the Chiefs’ Thomas Jones or the Raiders’ Michael Bush, each part of successful tandems with solid offensive lines?

No, no and no. The answer is Tolbert, who earned a dash of at least 20 yards once every 25.9 carries. He gets into the secondary almost as often as the division’s best. That’s quite a coup: everyone remembers Johnson’s jaw-dropping 4.24-second 40-yard dash at the 2008 NFL Combine, but McFadden (4.33 seconds) and Charles (4.38 seconds) also were among the fastest times.

Mathews finished behind Tolbert and Sproles (one per 28.6 carries), but shook off his ankle problem to reel off three runs of longer than 20 yards in his final 30 carries of the season.

Thicker than McFadden or Charles at 6-foot, 218 pounds, Mathews also possesses solid speed. His most productive runs came when he bounced outside. Many times early in the season he’d build up steam only to be knocked off his feet the instant before ripping off a huge gain.

Add in rookie Jordan Todman from Connecticut and defensive coordinators will have to guard against big runs no matter whom the Bolts hand the ball to this season. Though NFL defenses will present a stiffer test, Todman collected at least one run of 20 yards or longer in nine of the 11 regular-season games he played last year and then ran a 4.40-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.

Source: Chargers site

AFC West RBs, 2010 Season

Rate of explosive runs (20 or more yards, min. 50 carries)

1. McFadden, OAK – One per 21.8 carries
2. Charles, KC – One per 22.1 carries
3. Tolbert, SD – One per 25.9 carries
4. Sproles, SD – One per 28.6 carries
5. Mathews, SD – One per 39.5 carries
6. Bush, OAK – One per 39.5 carries
7. Jones, KC – One per 81.7 carries
8. Moreno, DEN – One per 85.8 carries

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Post by wow_junky Fri 24 Jun 2011, 3:34 pm

Interesting stuff.

On the NFL website do you know if the 40+ yard carry stat is included in the 20+ yard carry stat?

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Post by Pr4wn Fri 24 Jun 2011, 3:38 pm

A big part of being an explosive running back is breaking tackles.

Football outsiders have compiled a list of broken tackles by RBs in 2010 and some of it can make interesting reading:

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2011/broken-tackles-2010-part-ii

I swear most of Marshawn Lynch's broken tackles were on that one miracle run against the Saints.

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Post by wow_junky Fri 24 Jun 2011, 3:42 pm

Chris Ivory 20% broken takles percentage Shocked

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Post by Thickfreakness Fri 24 Jun 2011, 3:45 pm

I'm not sure wow_junky. I should think it is though, don't see why it shouldn't be.

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Post by Pr4wn Fri 24 Jun 2011, 3:46 pm

Big percentage, but he had a very small number of caries compared to everyone else.

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Post by wow_junky Fri 24 Jun 2011, 3:47 pm

Hmm, I've just taken the stats off the NFL website and I can't get them to add up to yours!

Charles, 230 carries, 10 attempts of 20+, 3 attempts of 40+

So it's either 1 explosive run per 23 attempts or 17.7 per attempt?

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Post by wow_junky Fri 24 Jun 2011, 3:50 pm

Pr4wn wrote:Big percentage, but he had a very small number of caries compared to everyone else.

Is it something that suffers diminishing returns though? Perhaps at a low number of attempts, but anything after 100-150 won't go down by that much surely?

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Post by Thickfreakness Fri 24 Jun 2011, 3:57 pm

wow_junky wrote:Hmm, I've just taken the stats off the NFL website and I can't get them to add up to yours!

Charles, 230 carries, 10 attempts of 20+, 3 attempts of 40+

So it's either 1 explosive run per 23 attempts or 17.7 per attempt?

The stats I posted were from the article I posted from the Chargers site. I'm still trying to figure it out too.

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Post by twelve283 Fri 24 Jun 2011, 4:01 pm

Pr4wn wrote:I swear most of Marshawn Lynch's broken tackles were on that one miracle run against the Saints.

That group of undrafted players is broken only by Marshawn Lynch, who apparently was already in Beast Mode before the playoffs even started. Remember, these are regular season numbers only, and don't include the big run against New Orleans. By the way, Lynch is a great example of how the ability to break tackles is very different from the ability to push through the line in short-yardage situations. As Doug Farrar pointed out on Yahoo! a few days ago, Lynch was one of the worst running backs in the NFL on third downs last season, despite all these broken tackles.


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Post by wow_junky Fri 24 Jun 2011, 4:01 pm

Using the NFL stats, and assuming 20+ and 40+ carries are separate, I came up with these figures in excel -

p.s sorry for the awful formatting and the mini-hijacking of the original article!!

Rank Player Team Att Total 20+ Attempts per 20+
1 Darren McFadden OAK 223 18 12.39
2 Michael Vick PHI 100 8 12.50
3 Brandon Jacobs NYG 147 11 13.36
4 Tim Hightower ARI 153 10 15.30
5 LeGarrette Blount TB 201 13 15.46
6 LeSean McCoy PHI 207 12 17.25
7 Jamaal Charles KC 230 13 17.69
8 Ahmad Bradshaw NYG 276 15 18.40
9 Chris Johnson TEN 316 17 18.59
10 Ryan Torain WAS 164 8 20.50
11 Donald Brown IND 129 6 21.50
12 Matt Forte CHI 237 11 21.55
13 DeAngelo Williams CAR 87 4 21.75
14 Arian Foster HOU 327 15 21.80
15 Chris Ivory NO 137 6 22.83
16 Justin Forsett SEA 118 5 23.60
17 Jonathan Stewart CAR 178 7 25.43
18 Adrian Peterson MIN 283 11 25.73
19 Mike Goodson CAR 103 4 25.75
20 Rashard Mendenhall PIT 324 12 27.00
21 Frank Gore SF 203 7 29.00
22 Mike Tolbert SD 182 6 30.33
23 Cadillac Williams TB 125 4 31.25
24 Michael Bush OAK 158 5 31.60
25 Danny Woodhead NE 97 3 32.33
26 Marshawn Lynch SEA 165 5 33.00
27 Willis McGahee BAL 100 3 33.33
28 Michael Turner ATL 334 10 33.40
29 Josh Freeman TB 68 2 34.00
30 Fred Jackson BUF 222 6 37.00
31 Maurice Jones-Drew JAC 299 8 37.38
32 Marion Barber DAL 113 3 37.67
33 Ryan Mathews SD 158 4 39.50
34 Ricky Williams MIA 159 4 39.75
35 Steven Jackson STL 330 8 41.25
36 Rashad Jennings JAC 84 2 42.00
37 Jahvid Best DET 171 4 42.75
38 LaDainian Tomlinson NYJ 219 5 43.80
39 Peyton Hillis CLE 270 6 45.00
40 BenJarvus Green-Ellis NE 229 4 57.25
41 Joseph Addai IND 116 2 58.00
42 Knowshon Moreno DEN 182 3 60.67
43 Thomas Jones KC 245 4 61.25
44 Ray Rice BAL 307 5 61.40
45 Felix Jones DAL 185 3 61.67
46 Brandon Jackson GB 190 3 63.33
47 Ronnie Brown MIA 200 2 100.00
48 Beanie Wells ARI 116 1 116.00
49 Cedric Benson CIN 321 2 160.50
50 Shonn Greene NYJ 185 1 185.00

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Post by Thickfreakness Fri 24 Jun 2011, 4:02 pm

Pr4wn wrote:A big part of being an explosive running back is breaking tackles.

Football outsiders have compiled a list of broken tackles by RBs in 2010 and some of it can make interesting reading:

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2011/broken-tackles-2010-part-ii

I swear most of Marshawn Lynch's broken tackles were on that one miracle run against the Saints.

Broken tackles help. But what about the players that are fast enough that they have no tackles to break?

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Post by wow_junky Fri 24 Jun 2011, 4:06 pm

wow_junky wrote:
Pr4wn wrote:Big percentage, but he had a very small number of caries compared to everyone else.

Is it something that suffers diminishing returns though? Perhaps at a low number of attempts, but anything after 100-150 won't go down by that much surely?

To answer my own question.... there Prawn is right, there seems to be a direct correlation between touches and broken tackles. Still, Ivory's numbers are impressive!

Player Team Touches BT/Touch
29-C.Ivory NO 138 19.60%
24-M.Lynch BUF/SEA 223 16.10%
27-L.Blount TB 206 16.00%
39-D.Woodhead NE 131 15.30%
20-J.Forsett SEA 151 13.90%
20-D.McFadden OAK 270 13.70%
22-F.Jackson BUF 253 13.40%
28-J.Stewart CAR 186 13.40%
25-L.McCoy PHI 285 13.30%
28-F.Jones DAL 233 12.90%
24-C.Williams TB 171 12.30%
46-R.Torain WAS 182 12.10%
44-A.Bradshaw NYG 323 11.80%
23-A.Foster HOU 393 11.50%
28-C.Johnson TEN 360 11.40%
27-K.Moreno DEN 220 11.40%
33-M.Turner ATL 346 11.00%
28-A.Peterson MIN 320 10.90%
40-P.Hillis CLE 331 10.60%
35-M.Tolbert SD 207 10.10%
25-J.Charles KC 276 9.80%
34-R.Mendenhall PIT 347 9.50%
32-M.Jones-Drew JAC 334 9.00%
32-C.Benson CIN 349 8.60%
39-S.Jackson STL 376 7.40%
27-R.Rice BAL 370 5.90%

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Post by Pr4wn Fri 24 Jun 2011, 4:07 pm

I still think YPC is the most important stat for any running back.

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Post by Thickfreakness Fri 24 Jun 2011, 4:13 pm

What does "1st" mean on the NFL.com stats?

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Post by wow_junky Fri 24 Jun 2011, 4:15 pm

Thickfreakness wrote:What does "1st" mean on the NFL.com stats?

1st downs gained?

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Post by Thickfreakness Fri 24 Jun 2011, 4:22 pm

wow_junky wrote:
Thickfreakness wrote:What does "1st" mean on the NFL.com stats?

1st downs gained?

That makes sense.

I'm still trying to see how the guy who wrote the article got his figures. Maybe it's against AFC West teams only?

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Post by CFCNick Sat 25 Jun 2011, 12:59 pm

I think the top Chargers RB will be 2nd in the division at best behind McFadden.

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Post by GSC Sat 25 Jun 2011, 2:07 pm

The Chargers have the best QB by a large margin though, so they shouldn't need to be as dependent on the run game as the other teams.
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Post by CFCNick Sat 25 Jun 2011, 2:41 pm

I agree - as much as the Chiefs and Raiders rely on the running game San Diego can sling it if need be.

As for most explosive, no way. Teams with less star RBs will most likely finish the year with better numbers.

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