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|
Adjusted Team Explosive Running Play Stats
|TEAM||RUSH||10 PLUS||20 PLUS||40 PLUS||AVG 10 PLUS|