Breaking down James' playoff production

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

TAMPA, Fla. -- We know the Cardinals are running the ball more effectively in the playoffs than they ran it during the regular season.

Edgerrin James' resurgence has certainly been key.

The first chart breaks down James' playoff rushing production by quarters.

Some backs pound away all game, then get cheap yardage late. James has not been one of those backs in the playoffs. His per-carry average diminishes from quarter to quarter. Six of his seven runs longer than 6 yards were first-half runs.

The second chart shows James' production running the ball by how many wide receivers the Cardinals had on the field.

The more receivers the Cardinals put on the field, the more defenses have to respect the pass. The more defenses have to respect the pass, the more effective James becomes on the ground. His per-carry average shrinks as the Car
dinals shift to more run-oriented personnel groups, alerting teams to watch out for the run.
The third chart shows James' production by down. He has carried the ball exclusively on first and second downs during the playoffs, with most of those carries on first down.

James has been most effective early in games, on early downs and with at least two receivers on the field.

Two final notes, which are related to the number of receivers on the field:

  • James has 19 carries for 109 yards and a 5.7-yard average when he is the only running back on the field.

  • He has 33 carries for 94 yards and a 2.8-yard average from personnel groupings with two running backs.

Available for download: an Excel file with each of James' playoff carries, sortable by opponent, quarter, drive number, down, distance, yard line, personnel grouping, yards gained, number of running backs, number of tight ends and number of receivers. The file is initially sorted from longest runs to shortest runs. The personnel-group names in Column L reflect my own adaptations of West Coast terminology. You will be best served sorting the columns for backs, tight ends and receivers instead.