Pro Football Focus published some of their 2010 Elusive Ratings in an in an interesting read today. What is an "Elusive Rating" you ask? It's basically their attempt to separate running back performance from offensive line play, FB play, et cetera. The calculation is somewhat complicated.
The Elusive Rating formula begins by combining carries and receptions to give a ‘ball-handling opportunities’ figure. We then combine forced missed tackles in both the run and pass game to find a total number for forced missed tackles, which is then divided by the ball-handling opportunities. This number is then multiplied by a player’s yards per carry after first contact figure (x100) to get our final number. Confused yet?
The magic formula: (MTrush+MTrec)/(Rec+Att)*(YCo/Att*100)
Our boy Burner wasn't in the top or bottom ten last year, though he tied for first (with Minnesota's Adrian Peterson) in forced missed tackles (46).
Interestingly, if you break that figure down by rushing attempts (i.e., forced missed tackles per touch), then he's not even in the top ten. He wasn't in the top ten for yards after contact percentage either. 68.7 percent of his yards came after contact; and Mike Tolbert ranked tenth in yards after contact percentage at 71.8 percent. To be fair, the only RB in the top ten for yards after contact percentage with 200 carries was TB's LeGarrette Blount.
So what does it all mean? Basically that Burner breaks a lot of tackles, but not because he's particularly elusive. No real surprise there, I think we all assumed his ability to run people over had something to do with the tree trunk legs he's rocking. The troubling tid-bit is that he broke so many tackles last year because he had a ridiculous amount of rushing attempts.
Would he still be near the top of the pack in forced missed tackles with less attempts? Maybe. But it's not likely. And to that effect, he wasn't all that efficient according to other metrics as well. He ranked 23/45 (-1.5%) out of the ranked RBs in DVOA and 17/45 (99 yards above replacement) out of the ranked RBs in DYAR (minimum 100 carries). Some of that inefficiency arguably can be attributed to MM's inept play calling. But that's speculation really.
He's still a valuable asset, and our success over the last three years would not have been possible without him, but regression is bound to set in sooner or later. With that said, don't be surprised if TD and company take a RB in the first four rounds of next month's draft.
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