Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Broken tackles: Lynch, Forsett lead the way
By Mike Sando
Football Outsiders' stats for broken tackles raise all sorts of questions regarding NFC West running backs.
Why did the Seattle Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett rank among the NFL's top six players in broken tackles per touch (minimum 80 touches)?
Why did the St. Louis Rams' Steven Jackson's totals drop so sharply from 2009 to 2010?
Why didn't the San Francisco 49ers' Frank Gore rank very high in either year?
There's even a Beanie Wells reference for those following the Arizona Cardinals.
The chart breaks out the NFL's top six, as charted by Football Outsiders. The above-linked item features much more information. My quick thoughts on NFC West totals:
- The Seahawks' run blocking wasn't very good on the whole last season. The stats for Lynch and Forsett suffered as a result, but the numbers for broken tackles suggest both men maximized their opportunities. Lynch is a physical runner. He even took out the 49ers' Patrick Willis in one memorable encounter last season. Stats for broken tackles were for the regular season only. Lynch broke eight tackles during a single run against New Orleans in the playoffs. Forsett is shiftier and makes defenders miss.
- Jackson's totals fell from 49 broken tackles in 2009 to 28 last season. Was Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. correct when he said Jackson had lost a step? Did Jackson run less physically while playing with a broken finger and injured groin? He wasn't exactly healthy in 2009, however. His back injury required surgery. Looks like Jackson will be under quite a bit of scrutiny for such an excellent, proven player.
- Wells and Gore ranked among the bottom six players in the NFL for broken tackles per touch last season. Gore is obviously a physical runner. When I envision him colliding with defenders, I see him plowing ahead for another yard or two, not necessarily breaking the tackle altogether. But I would still expect Gore to rank higher.
- Football Outsiders singled out two wide receivers from the NFC West. The 49ers' Josh Morgan and the Rams' Brandon Gibson ranked among the top five receivers and tight ends for broken tackles per touch. Former Seahawks receiver Nate Burleson, now with Detroit, ranked higher.
These stats are admittedly subjective. Different people charted different teams while trying to meet the same standard. I might chart this category next season to see how the numbers match up.