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A Closer Look At Explosive Running Plays By Running Backs In 2010


I have seen the term explosive plays by a running back on the ground being used a little bit more in articles as of late so I wanted to do a study of both running backs and teams last season in relation to the stat.

An explosive rushing play on the ground by a running back is one that goes for 10 yards or more. In the first table below I compiled the running backs from last season with 75 or more carries and how many times per carry they produced an explosive play on average. To be fair, I pulled out all carries from inside the 10 yard line as a running back can not get a 10 yard carry from the 9 yard line on in.

You can see that backs like Jamaal Charles, LeGarrette Blount, Arian Foster and Adrian Peterson all produced explosive plays at a pretty good average based on the amount of times they carried the ball last year. It is a testament to how good of backs both Blount and Peterson are in this stat though as both the Buccaneers and Vikings run blocking numbers were not good last year according to the Pro Football Focus grading system.

Titans running back Chris Johnson really deserves some credit too as he averaged an explosive run every 8 carries even though the Titans run blocking ranked the worst of the 32 teams last year according to PFF grading system. Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall on the other hand only produced an explosive carry once every 10 carries based on the numbers and the Steelers run blocking was just a hair worse than the Buccaneers last year. Mendenhall is just not a big play back as we all know and the Ravens Ray Rice was even worse last year in this stat. He does however contribute more in the passing game though and that increases his worth to Baltimore.

Exploring further though, explosive plays on the ground by a running back is not that big of deal based on the 2010 numbers and it is an overrated stat in my opinion. I totaled up all of the teams running backs that had at least 1 explosive play or more last season and once again subtracted the carries inside the 10 yard line to come up with a team total. Now these numbers do not include all of the running back and fullback carries, but I bet it includes about 98% of them so the numbers will not be too far off from actual.

6 of the teams that only produced a big explosive running play by a running back or fullback every 9.5 plays or more made the playoffs and the Packers went on to win the Super Bowl with a league worst 13.5 running plays per explosive play. Both the Redskins and the Texans produced one explosive running play by a back less than every 7 plays, but neither team made the playoffs.

While explosive plays of 10 yards or more can surely help an offense move the ball, it only seems to help a fantasy team owner more than anything. It still comes down to running the ball well when you have to run well and the play of the quarterback more than anything else in today’s brand of football. A good running game and a great defense will only take you so far these days; just ask the Jets and the Bears from last year. Explosive running plays by a back are great, but not a good measurement stick by any means.

Adjusted Player Explosive Running Play Stats

PLAYER TEAM RUSH 10 PLUS 20 PLUS 40 PLUS AVG 10 PLUS
Rashad Jennings JAC 80 14 1 1 5.7
Jamaal Charles KC 220 38 10 3 5.8
Ryan Torain WAS 150 26 7 1 5.8
Chris Ivory NO 122 21 5 1 5.8
LeGarrette Blount TB 189 32 10 3 5.9
Brandon Jacobs NYG 132 21 10 1 6.3
Justin Forsett SEA 107 17 5 0 6.3
Mike Goodson CAR 98 15 3 1 6.5
Arian Foster HOU 288 42 12 3 6.9
LeSean McCoy PHI 193 28 7 5 6.9
Felix Jones DAL 174 25 3 0 7
Adrian Peterson MIN 260 36 9 2 7.2
Tim Hightower ARI 145 20 8 2 7.3
BenJarvus Green-Ellis NE 206 28 4 0 7.4
Matt Forte CHI 217 29 9 2 7.5
Knowshon Moreno DEN 166 22 3 0 7.5
Darren McFadden OAK 214 28 14 4 7.6
DeAngelo Williams CAR 84 11 4 0 7.6
Ahmad Bradshaw NYG 255 33 13 2 7.7
Chris Johnson TEN 293 37 13 4 7.9
Maurice Jones-Drew JAC 275 34 8 0 8.1
Marshawn Lynch SEA 146 18 5 0 8.1
Mike Tolbert SD 153 18 6 0 8.5
Danny Woodhead NE 93 11 3 0 8.5
Ryan Mathews SD 151 17 4 0 8.9
Jonathan Stewart CAR 172 19 5 2 9.1
Michael Turner ATL 293 32 9 1 9.2
Steven Jackson STL 309 33 7 1 9.4
Frank Gore SF 189 20 6 1 9.5
LaDainian Tomlinson NYJ 208 21 5 0 9.9
Rashard Mendenhall PIT 298 29 11 1 10.3
Thomas Jones KC 221 21 3 1 10.5
Joseph Addai IND 105 10 1 1 10.5
Michael Bush OAK 138 13 5 0 10.6
Cadillac Williams TB 118 11 3 1 10.7
Cedric Benson CIN 293 27 2 0 10.9
Peyton Hillis CLE 252 23 5 1 11
Brandon Jackson GB 177 16 2 1 11.1
Ronnie Brown MIA 191 17 1 1 11.2
Beanie Wells ARI 104 9 1 0 11.6
Marion Barber DAL 93 8 3 0 11.6
Fred Jackson BUF 210 18 6 0 11.7
Maurice Morris DET 84 7 1 0 12
Willis McGahee BAL 86 7 3 0 12.3
Jahvid Best DET 163 13 3 1 12.5
Ray Rice BAL 293 23 4 1 12.7
Jason Snelling ATL 80 6 1 0 13.3
Ricky Williams MIA 154 11 3 1 14
Chester Taylor CHI 99 7 1 0 14.1
Donald Brown IND 119 8 4 2 14.9
Shonn Greene NYJ 181 12 1 0 15.1
Toby Gerhart MIN 76 5 1 0 15.2
John Kuhn GB 75 4 0 0 18.8

Adjusted Team Explosive Running Play Stats

TEAM RUSH 10 PLUS 20 PLUS 40 PLUS AVG 10 PLUS
WAS 268 42 10 1 6.4
HOU 350 53 16 3 6.6
PHI 252 36 10 6 7
JAC 390 55 9 1 7.1
SEA 291 41 11 0 7.1
NYG 406 55 23 3 7.4
TB 327 44 14 5 7.4
KC 441 59 13 4 7.5
CAR 373 48 13 3 7.8
NO 310 40 7 2 7.8
TEN 341 43 14 5 7.9
MIN 336 41 10 2 8.2
SD 351 43 13 0 8.2
NE 350 42 8 0 8.3
ARI 276 33 11 2 8.4
DAL 321 37 8 0 8.7
CHI 316 36 10 2 8.8
OAK 391 44 20 4 8.9
DEN 299 33 3 0 9.1
PIT 376 39 12 1 9.6
CIN 359 37 3 1 9.7
ATL 383 39 11 1 9.8
STL 358 36 7 1 9.9
BUF 293 27 7 0 10.9
DET 279 25 4 1 11.2
SF 323 28 8 1 11.5
IND 335 29 6 3 11.6
CLE 281 24 5 1 11.7
NYJ 436 37 6 0 11.8
MIA 345 28 4 2 12.3
BAL 407 32 7 1 12.7
GB 324 24 2 1 13.5

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