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Friday, May 7, 2010
Running backs and yards after contact

By Paul Kuharsky

Here’s an interesting piece on running backs that seeks to produce an Elusive Rating.

No AFC South backs are in the top 10 or bottom 10 of the ratings, however, which makes me skeptical. It's hard to name 10 backs more elusive than Chris Johnson.

There is AFC South stuff in the yards after contact section, though.

Pro Football Focus says Houston’s Chris Brown got 77.53 percent of his 267 rushing yards, after contact. No other AFC South backs are in the ultimate top 10 or bottom five put together here. It’s of note that of the 20 backs listed, only two had more than 600 yards rushing.

By PFF’s count, Chris Johnson had a 1,000-yard season after contact:
"Everybody knows what a fantastic season Chris Johnson had, topping 2,000 yards rushing, but how many people know that he notched 1,071 of those rushing yards after contact? Only 12 other rushers in the NFL surpassed that mark with their rushing totals. Johnson gained more yards after contact in 2009 than 50 other runners on this list gained in total rushing yards. While Johnson topped the league in [yards after contact, or YCo] -- as well as rushing yards -- last season, it wasn't by nearly the same distance from the chasing pack. Three other rushers were able to record more than 900 yards after contact, and not one of them came within 500 yards of Johnson's league-leading 2,006-yard rushing total. Steven Jackson, Maurice Jones-Drew and Adrian Peterson all recorded more than 65 percent of their rushing yards after first contact."

I tend to have something like this as a standard disclaimer when talking PFF: It looks at a lot of offbeat stuff, and in a case like this there is a large subjective element. I can’t tell you how consistent they are in that subjectivity or whether they can compute what they are looking to compute. I can tell you they are great for generating discussion.