Elusiveness A Hidden Skill In Isaac Redman\’s Repertoire

By Matthew Marczi

While he may not have had an opportunity to demonstrate the full breadth of his skills on Saturday night, carrying the ball just twice, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Isaac Redman has hidden away a secret skill that has helped him throughout his career despite less than ideal athleticism: with the ball in his hands, he is an elusive runner.

In response to the drafting of running back Le’Veon Bell in the second round of this past draft, and as a means of helping him adapt to the new zone blocking scheme the Steelers intend to incorporate this season, Redman has stated that he has lost weight and worked with a speed trainer.

According to the fourth-year back, he has dropped about 20 pounds from a season ago, and he sees the results on tape, telling the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “it shows on film that I am a couple steps quicker than I was”. He also said that he believes “being a little quicker would actually help my power”.

The thought of Redman becoming an even more difficult back to bring down should be worrisome to opposing defenses, despite averaging just 3.7 yards per carry a season ago. Looking deeper into the statistics reveals a more nuanced understanding of Redman’s 2012 showing, which was bogged down by injuries.

Last year, Redman carried the ball 110 times and caught 18 passes. On those 128 touches, he forced a total of 38 missed tackles, with 28 coming on rushes and 10 on receptions. His 28 misses tackles on carries is impressive when you consider that the 13 backs with more missed tackles on carries all had at least 90 more carries than he did.

Adrian Peterson led the league with 64 missed tackles, but he ran the ball 348 times, which comes out to a missed tackle on 18.4 percent of his carries. Redman forced a missed tackle on more than 25 percent of his carries (LaRod Stephens-Howling also had 110 carries and forced 24 missed tackles).

In fact, Redman averaged 3.02 yards after contact on his 128 total touches, which ranked him seventh in the league out of backs who played 25 percent of the team’s snaps (Jonathan Dwyer ranked ninth with 2.78 yards after contact).

Redman’s yards after contact may be slightly inflated due to his one exceptional game in receiving, but when you consider that he averaged just 3.7 yards per carry, that is a substantial percentage of his yardage gained after being touched, a reflection of the team’s run-blocking woes.

Pro Football Focus attempts to quantify blocking-independent running back success, and to do so, they created a metric that they call Elusiveness Rating. The Elusiveness Rating divides missed tackles by touches and multiplies that by yards after contact per attempt, and multiplies by 100 to get a more workable figure.

At the end of the season, Redman was second only to Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller in the Elusiveness Rating. Spiller’s rating was 94.6, and Redman’s was 89.6. Bernard Pierce of the Baltimore Ravens was a distant third with a rating of 75.7, followed by Peterson at 72 and Jacquizz Rodgers at 61.1.

Consider also the fact that Redman had just four carries of 15 yards or more, and on those four carries, he gained 91 of his 410 total yards on the ground. The fact that the vast majority of his missed tackles forced did not lead to much of a large gain gives an even greater appreciation for the frequency with which he was able to make would-be tacklers miss close to or behind the line of scrimmage.

Yes, many of those missed tackles were a result of Redman being able to overpower defenders; however, his mental acuity as a ball carrier often goes overlooked, given his typecasting as a short yardage back. Redman also combines strong footwork, quick decision-making, and field vision to make the most of his carries.

His aptitude for staying on his feet, consistently giving a second or third effort, and chronically falling forward when he is brought down are all instinctive qualities in a running back that coaches covet. It is why Redman is being shown the respect of being named co-starter with Bell, who will inevitably be named the starter by the time the regular season begins.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Jake Marion

    Matt, Do you realize how you and Dave timed your articles a bit awkwardly?


  • walter mason

    You want to see some missed tackles lol, go to you tube and watch the Isaac Redman Show part 1 and 2 highlights from Bowie State. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jixyYRkaC-k

  • Jake Marion

    Wow, when you consider those stats on Redman and LA S-H that is pretty cool. Now go watch some L. Bell video from Michigan State and see what he did to tacklers (after getting past a weak O-Line).
    It just gives me a lot of hope for the run game this season.

  • dgh57

    I remember Redmans’ 1st year when he was used in the preseason on short yardage and goal line plays and how everybody thought he was the best at doing that and ever since then he’s been stereotyped as a power back. He was called upon at the time and since then to be a power back because he was running in a Power Scheme so he fulfilled his job as asked. Now with this move to a ZBS Redman will adapt himself to that scheme and again fulfill his job as asked. He has already shown his willingness to do that as he has lost weight and consulted a speed coach things needed to accomplish this. The above writeup also shows he has the needed elusiveness and quickness to do well in this new ZBS. Arian Foster is a big back and doesn’t have the greatest speed as a RB but he gets the job done in both the in and outside ZBS!

  • Shannon Stephenson

    If you consider running through a guy elusive…I’m on board. 🙂

  • Milliken Steeler

    On a funny note, he wasn’t to elusive when Foote just nailed him in practice.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Plaxico Burress got injured on the same day that I wrote about him finding a niche in the offense…

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I will always remember Redman for his heroic run in the greatest regular season game I’ve ever seen.

    Dec. 6, 2009. Steelers vs Ravens. Slug-fest. Heath Miller out cold after a launching spear hit to the head. No penalty called of course. Haloti Ngata breaks Ben’s nose with a punch to the face. No penalty called. The medic snaps the bones back into place. Ben goes back into the game. Somehow battling through the pain enough to keep us close.

    Baltimore was ahead 10-6 with 3:13 left to go. The fearless Joe Flacco leading his band of thugs to a game winning drive. Only for the wrong team.

    Troy tomahawk strips Flacco. Woodley scoops it up. Returns it to the 19. The Ravens dig in. 3rd and goal from the 9. Ben dumps a short pass to…

    Isaac Redman at the 6. He spins. Weaving his way through would be tacklers. Juwann Landry misses. Jarret Johnson misses. Ray-Ray slams into his own guy and misses. Redman scores. Steelers win. I will always love him for that.

  • AndyR34

    Matthew – I appreciate your writing, but maybe you should write about…oh…Flacco, Weeden, Dalton, Green, Suggs, Brady…you know…some folks that we could really use some of your special magic on…LOL!

  • AndyR34

    ^THIS…is exactly what Matthew is writing about! A wonderful play…at a very important moment…and exemplifies Redman’s desire and skill. Thank you SSS for the reminder.

  • walter mason

    Redman was our secret weapon. I like Redman.

  • Douglas Andrews

    A Foster has great vision and shifftyness for a big back with pretty good not great speed. Hope your right about Red, haven’t seen enough of him in the current ZB to assess although I think the scheme fits Dwyer more so but who ever wins the #2RB it would be nice to have a 1-2 punch

  • Douglas Andrews

    Agreed… He really did some damage running the football with that O Line.

  • dgh57

    It helps that Redman has the right attitude in wanting to succeed in this new ZBS by losing weight and hiring this speed coach. Dwyer, on the other hand, shows up at the OTAs overweight, probably gets a butt chewing to motivate him back in the OTAs, so not the attitude I would want on my team and may end up costing him his job if we only keep 4 RBs!

  • Douglas Andrews

    Yeah i been hoping Dwyer would get his act together! He’s young i think 23 and shown alot of immaturity. Don’t think he’s got a bad attitude just a poor work ethic. Maybe Redman showing up in great shape finally motivated him to do the same not sure but it’s gonna be a good battle to watch.

  • dgh57

    Yes, it’s to bad we aren’t talking about Dwyer losing weight and hiring a speed coach. Mix that in with his youth and we would have a 1-2 punch for years to come!

  • Douglas Andrews

    Too bad we didnt get J Dwyer the “B” back from GT. Dude was a beast I watched all his games. Not sure what happened since then it’s a real head scratcher!

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    My pleasure. I still remember screaming my lungs out when we pulled out that win. Might be my favorite game ever.

  • Pete

    Love Redman. Looking forward to a great season by the Steeler backs.