Todd Haley Likes Using Running Backs In The Passing Game

Since the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Florida running back Chris Rainey in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL draft, one really can\’t help but to think that new offensive coordinator Todd Haley plans to use him the same way that he used Dexter McCluster when he was the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. It got me wondering just how much Haley used his running backs in the passing game dating back to his time as the offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals so I pulled the stats for all 32 teams dating back to 2007. I have included the running back targets and receptions in the numbers to go along with total plays, attempts and a few more stats as you can see in the sortable table below.

What is interesting is that in the last five years that Haley has coached, running backs have been targeted 21.40% of the time in attempted passes. That resulted in 24.20% of all passes completed that were thrown in total to wide receivers, tight ends and running backs. In his nearly three full years with Chiefs, Haley threw to the running backs no less than 20.1% of the time. The most was nearly 30% in 2010. Even dating back to his time with the Cardinals, running backs were thrown to right around 18% of the time when passes were attempted.

One of the biggest knocks on former Steelers offensive coordinator was that he did not use the running backs enough in the passing game and the stats support that claim. Dating back to 2007 the Steelers averaged throwing to the backs 14.40% of the time of all pass attempts. 2011 was the least of all five years Arians was in Pittsburgh as the backs were targeted just 11.9% of the time. So basically judging by the last five years of stats, offenses under Haley threw to the running backs 7% more than Arians coached offenses did. The average for the league over that span of time was 19.6% and Haley is clearly over that number.

One thing the data also shows us is that Haley has a higher pass/run ratio overall than Arians did during that span. Now of course playing from behind could play a large part in that, but Haley did have Kurt Warner as his quarterback while with Arizona. Over the last five years Haley offenses have passed 56.60% of the time compares to 54.30% for Arians. Another thing that the data shows us that quarterbacks have only been sacked 5.60% of the time they have dropped back in Haley offenses, compared to 8.50% for the Steelers under Arians. The league average during that span was 6.1% and I do not need to tell you how big of a beating that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has taken over that span of five seasons.

While both Haley and Arians both had pretty comparable yards per reception and yards per attempt numbers when throwing to the running backs over those years, you can see that in 2010 the Chiefs running backs had a nice 6.2 yards per attempt and a 9.3 yards per reception that season. That was thanks to both Jamaal Charles and McCluster as the Chiefs entire group of running backs combined for nearly 100 receptions that season.

Now these stats do not tell you everything and they certainly do not rival anything like what DVOA type stats do as they are raw numbers and percentages and do not take into account down and distance, field position and score. One thing that I think we take away from these stats is that Haley will have Roethlisberger using the running backs more in the passing game. This will be good news for players like Rainey and that is probably exactly why they drafted him. Do not forget that second year running back Baron Batch also played in a spread offense at Texas Tech and he too is a pretty nifty receiver out of the backfield. Batch also showed a knack in college for being able to pick up the blitz as well, something that Rainey likely will not be asked to do very much. Using the running backs more in the passing game should help keep Roethlisberger off his back more than usual in addition and that is always a good thing.

Have some fun with these stats and post your own observations below.

TMYRPLSRSHSCKATTCMPRB ATTRB CMPYDSYPCYPARB ATT %RB COC %SCK %PASS %
ARI2007101640224590356105655208.004.9517.8%18.3%3.9%60.4%
ARI200899834028630418118816047.465.1218.7%19.4%4.3%65.9%
ARI200998536526594392131987277.425.5522.1%25.0%4.2%62.9%
ARI20109313205056128589503637.264.0815.9%17.5%8.2%65.6%
ARI20119933895455030772494829.846.6913.1%16.0%8.9%60.8%
ATL200798738547555336108715517.765.1019.5%21.1%7.8%61.0%
ATL200810115601743426583585259.056.3319.1%21.9%3.8%44.6%
ATL200910484512757033287695858.486.7215.3%20.8%4.5%57.0%
ATL201010974972357736198735307.265.4117.0%20.2%3.8%54.7%
ATL201110734532659436597705688.115.8616.3%19.2%4.2%57.8%
BAL2007104244639557341102855206.125.1018.3%24.9%6.5%57.2%
BAL2008105859233433261120836047.285.0327.7%31.8%7.1%44.0%
BAL20091014468365103211511159328.106.1729.6%35.8%6.6%53.8%
BAL2010101848740491308125977297.525.8325.5%31.5%7.5%52.2%
BAL20111036459335443141511048568.235.6727.8%33.1%5.7%55.7%
BUF20079194482644526378574878.546.2417.5%21.7%5.5%51.3%
BUF200895643938479309116876517.485.6124.2%28.2%7.4%54.1%
BUF200991142446441256105806047.555.7523.8%31.3%9.4%53.5%
BUF20109544013451929699624206.774.2419.1%20.9%6.1%58.0%
BUF201199239123578356123887638.676.2021.3%24.7%3.8%60.6%
CAR20079894513350528590614156.804.6117.8%21.4%6.1%54.4%
CAR20089385042041424661392085.333.4114.7%15.9%4.6%46.3%
CAR200910235253346526491584888.415.3619.6%22.0%6.6%48.7%
CAR201096242850484256104745727.735.5021.5%28.9%9.4%55.5%
CAR20119994453551931293665768.736.1917.9%21.2%6.3%55.5%
CHI2007103542343569327120866938.065.7821.1%26.3%7.0%59.1%
CHI200899143429528304106846107.265.7520.1%27.6%5.2%56.2%
CHI20099713733556334090675117.635.6816.0%19.7%5.9%61.6%
CHI20109364145646627695706769.667.1220.4%25.4%10.7%55.8%
CHI201197845649473268118837218.696.1124.9%31.0%9.4%53.4%
CIN200710084161757537396755347.125.5616.7%20.1%2.9%58.7%
CIN20089844205151330379523616.944.5715.4%17.2%9.0%57.3%
CIN200910115052947728681614427.255.4617.0%21.3%5.7%50.0%
CIN201010464282859036580613926.434.9013.6%16.7%4.5%59.1%
CIN201110154552553530876533496.584.5914.2%17.2%4.5%55.2%
CLE2007100444019545305102695908.555.7818.7%22.6%3.4%56.2%
CLE200892140924488238108715407.615.0022.1%29.8%4.7%55.6%
CLE20099714983044321997633966.294.0821.9%28.8%6.3%48.7%
CLE20109274133647829697756008.006.1920.3%25.3%7.0%55.4%
CLE201110244153957032094654516.944.8016.5%20.3%6.4%59.5%
DAL20079754192553134286735407.406.2816.2%21.3%4.5%57.0%
DAL20089794013154732896776198.046.4517.6%23.5%5.4%59.0%
DAL200910204363455034783614777.825.7515.1%17.6%5.8%57.3%
DAL2010103542831576379102826297.676.1717.7%21.6%5.1%58.6%
DAL2011101740839570376111835786.965.2119.5%22.1%6.4%59.9%
DEN20079764293251532681594237.175.2215.7%18.1%5.9%56.0%
DEN200810193871262038661434139.606.779.8%11.1%1.9%62.0%
DEN200910324403455834189634727.495.3015.9%18.5%5.7%57.4%
DEN2010101839840580334100726789.426.7817.2%21.6%6.5%60.9%
DEN201110175464242921784544237.835.0419.6%24.9%8.9%46.3%
DET20079653245458736894704786.835.0916.0%19.0%8.4%66.4%
DET20089133525250928188684706.915.3417.3%24.2%9.3%61.4%
DET2009103740943585316130908439.376.4822.2%28.5%6.8%60.6%
DET20101064404276333831561108797.995.6324.6%28.7%4.1%62.0%
DET2011105835636666423116877989.176.8817.4%20.6%5.1%66.4%
GB200798538819578383115875566.394.8319.9%22.7%3.2%60.6%
GB200810124373454134381644056.335.0015.0%18.7%5.9%56.8%
GB200910424385155335786655147.915.9815.6%18.2%8.4%58.0%
GB201010004213854135281675197.756.4115.0%19.0%6.6%57.9%
GB20119883954155237692746368.596.9116.7%19.7%6.9%60.0%
HOU200796841722529346111875346.144.8121.0%25.1%4.0%56.9%
HOU200810194323255536796765387.085.6017.3%20.7%5.5%57.6%
HOU20091043425255933991251008388.386.7021.1%25.1%4.0%59.3%
HOU2010102942332574365114847679.136.7319.9%23.0%5.3%58.9%
HOU20111046546334672881027175010.567.3521.8%24.7%6.6%47.8%
IND200710204462355135584604848.075.7615.2%16.9%4.0%56.3%
IND200896937014585393107786107.825.7018.3%19.8%2.3%61.8%
IND20099803661360140289705608.006.2914.8%17.4%2.1%62.7%
IND201010883931667945078574277.495.4711.5%12.7%2.3%63.9%
IND20119513823553430252392185.594.199.7%12.9%6.2%59.8%
JAX200710225223146928889615689.316.3819.0%21.2%6.2%48.9%
JAX2008100542642537335114948088.607.0921.2%28.1%7.3%57.6%
JAX2009101044744519315103744896.614.7519.8%23.5%7.8%55.7%
JAX201010195123846929199756118.156.1721.1%25.8%7.5%49.8%
JAX2011100248944469240102665257.955.1521.7%27.5%8.6%51.2%
KC2007100138355563335102704406.294.3118.1%20.9%8.9%61.7%
KC20089573793754131084614176.844.9615.5%19.7%6.4%60.4%
KC2009101943845536296108775467.095.0620.1%26.0%7.7%57.0%
KC2010106355632475274141948749.306.2029.7%34.3%6.3%47.7%
KC2011102148734500299113805366.704.7422.6%26.8%6.4%52.3%
MIA2007989389425583181321028598.426.5123.7%32.1%7.0%60.7%
MIA200896544826491330118887748.806.5624.0%26.7%5.0%53.6%
MIA2009108850934545331120835947.164.9522.0%25.1%5.9%53.2%
MIA2010104044538557335109725367.444.9219.6%21.5%6.4%57.2%
MIA20119904695246928077624146.685.3816.4%22.1%10.0%52.6%
MIN200796449438432249966669110.477.2022.2%26.5%8.1%48.8%
MIN2008101451943452267118835706.874.8326.1%31.1%8.7%48.8%
MIN2009105446734553377128978929.206.9723.1%25.7%5.8%55.7%
MIN20109824413650530593705908.436.3418.4%23.0%6.7%55.1%
MIN201110074484951028665494038.226.2012.7%17.1%8.8%55.5%
NE200710584512158640384625839.406.9414.3%15.4%3.5%57.4%
NE2008109551348534339107807349.186.8620.0%23.6%8.2%53.2%
NE2009107646618592390105746088.225.7917.7%19.0%3.0%56.7%
NE20109864542550733185616099.987.1616.8%18.4%4.7%54.0%
NE201110824383261240258373639.816.269.5%9.2%5.0%59.5%
NO20071060392166524401891468776.014.6429.0%33.2%2.4%63.0%
NO20081047398136364131661229447.745.6926.1%29.5%2.0%62.0%
NO20091032468205443781391067737.295.5625.6%28.0%3.5%54.7%
NO20101067380266614501351116676.014.9420.4%24.7%3.8%64.4%
NO201111174312466247218014311417.986.3427.2%30.3%3.5%61.4%
NYG2007104146928544302109634507.144.1320.0%20.9%4.9%54.9%
NYG200810215022849129887595138.695.9017.7%19.8%5.4%50.8%
NYG200910174433254233875464299.335.7213.8%13.6%5.6%56.4%
NYG201010354801653933982634487.115.4615.2%18.6%2.9%53.6%
NYG2011102841128589359121906617.345.4620.5%25.1%4.5%60.0%
NYJ200710114465351231086644306.725.0016.8%20.6%9.4%55.9%
NYJ200898142230529347110845636.705.1220.8%24.2%5.4%57.0%
NYJ200910306073039321067362867.944.2717.0%17.1%7.1%41.1%
NYJ2010108753428525288116785487.034.7222.1%27.1%5.1%50.9%
NYJ2011103044340547310125888159.266.5222.9%28.4%6.8%57.0%
OAK2007100050841451260120886707.615.5826.6%33.8%8.3%49.2%
OAK200891945939421222108746188.355.7225.7%33.3%8.5%50.1%
OAK200994441049485255105766108.035.8121.6%29.8%9.2%56.6%
OAK201010395044449127913293105311.327.9826.9%33.3%8.2%51.5%
OAK20111015466255243151189293910.217.9622.5%29.2%4.6%54.1%
PHI20071047421495773501531119198.286.0126.5%31.7%7.8%59.8%
PHI2008105642723606362121927798.476.4420.0%25.4%3.7%59.6%
PHI200997538438553335115806297.865.4720.8%23.9%6.4%60.6%
PHI20101038428495613481281077777.266.0722.8%30.7%8.0%58.8%
PHI201110364503255433079523446.624.3514.3%15.8%5.5%56.6%
PIT200710005114744228277554247.715.5117.4%19.5%9.6%48.9%
PIT200810154604950630375523787.275.0414.8%17.2%8.8%54.7%
PIT200910144285053635171534839.116.8013.2%15.1%8.5%57.8%
PIT20109934714347929873564327.715.9215.2%18.8%8.2%52.6%
PIT201110154344253934164473337.095.2011.9%13.8%7.2%57.2%
SD200798048524471281120835506.634.5825.5%29.5%4.8%50.5%
SD20089244212547831213810510219.727.4028.9%33.7%5.0%54.4%
SD200997242726519338127979329.617.3424.5%28.7%4.8%56.1%
SD20101039457385443591541279987.866.4828.3%35.4%6.5%56.0%
SD20111048436305823661651239777.945.9228.4%33.6%4.9%58.4%
SEA2007105643036590371122866757.855.5320.7%23.2%5.8%59.3%
SEA20089274173647426293594537.684.8719.6%22.5%7.1%55.0%
SEA20091045395416093721471097737.095.2624.1%29.3%6.3%62.2%
SEA201096438535544324102715127.215.0218.8%21.9%6.0%60.1%
SEA2011100344450509299104714796.754.6120.4%23.7%8.9%55.7%
SF200792535755513274108846337.545.8621.1%30.7%9.7%61.4%
SF200896139755509309111797339.286.6021.8%25.6%9.8%58.7%
SF200993937140528312115765377.074.6721.8%24.4%7.0%60.5%
SF201094540144500282110716338.925.7522.0%25.2%8.1%57.6%
SF20119934984445127762383238.505.2113.7%13.7%8.9%49.8%
STL2007102640448574333118845626.694.7620.6%25.2%7.7%60.6%
STL200898241745520292122837258.735.9423.5%28.4%8.0%57.5%
STL200999841144543312112784706.034.2020.6%25.0%7.5%58.8%
STL201010534293459035482644877.615.9413.9%18.1%5.4%59.3%
STL201110134095554929286594607.805.3515.7%20.2%9.1%59.6%
TB2007975449364903161471037777.545.2930.0%32.6%6.8%53.9%
TB2008104545132562355137986636.774.8424.4%27.6%5.4%56.8%
TB20099614043352427994684877.165.1817.9%24.4%5.9%58.0%
TB20109554313049430692695187.515.6318.6%22.5%5.7%54.9%
TB201196634632588365121936707.205.5420.6%25.5%5.2%64.2%
TEN200710375433046428874553626.584.8915.9%19.1%6.1%47.6%
TEN20089735081245326596674576.824.7621.2%25.3%2.6%47.8%
TEN20099904991547627192655969.176.4819.3%24.0%3.1%49.6%
TEN20109074062747427383653865.944.6517.5%23.8%5.4%55.2%
TEN2011984376245843531381017137.065.1723.6%28.6%3.9%61.8%
WAS2007105249829525319116856808.005.8622.1%26.6%5.2%52.7%
WAS200810264783851031888645188.095.8917.3%20.1%6.9%53.4%
WAS200997039146533340106847679.137.2419.9%24.7%7.9%59.7%
WAS2010100235146605349139877528.645.4123.0%24.9%7.1%65.0%
WAS2011103240041591346120917137.845.9420.3%26.3%6.5%61.2%
NFL07-1116092470084555785283518331674312153951817.835.6819.6%23.4%6.1%56.4%