Stats & Info: BenJarvus Green-Ellis

Foles could struggle vs Bengals pass D

December, 13, 2012
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireNick Foles earned his first career victory last week against the Buccaneers.
Bengals Matchup to Watch: BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs Eagles run defense
Over the last four games, Green-Ellis has had five rushes for at least 20 yards (tied for the most in the NFL with the Eagles' Bryce Brown). Prior to that, he had only six such rushes combined in his previous 62 games.

Green-Ellis has pinballed off defenders with much success recently. His 197 yards after contact over the last four games rank second in the NFL behind Adrian Peterson’s standard-setting 288.

It’s hard to tell which way the Eagles will go in stopping Green-Ellis.

The Eagles defense has allowed an average of two yards after contact per running play. That’s the fifth-highest rate in the NFL. However, they’ve been much better the last four games, yielding only 1.4 yards per carry.

Eagles Matchup to Watch: Nick Foles vs Bengals pass rush
The Bengals have been able to do a lot against opposing quarterbacks recently without sending a massive pass rush.

The chart on the right compares the Bengals pass rush through their first eight games to their last five games.

The Bengals had success against one NFC East quarterback with this rush, sitting back and picking off New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning twice while still managing to sack him three times.

But Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo did a good job against them last week, completing 18-of-25 throws for 178 yards and a touchdown.

The touchdown is the only one the Bengals have given up with four or fewer pass rushers in the last five games.

Foles has been alright against that sort of pass rush, completing a modest 64 percent of his passes, with three touchdowns and only one interception in 132 attempts.

Stats of the Game
The first quarter could be key for the Eagles defense. The Bengals have scored a touchdown during the first quarter in each of their last five games, tying a franchise record. Cincinnati had two previous streaks of five straight games with an opening-quarter touchdown (in 1988 and 1990), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Foles notched the first victory of his career on Sunday when he led the Eagles over the Buccaneers. With another triumph, Foles would become the sixth rookie quarterback to win at least two games this season. That would be the most rookie quarterbacks with at least two wins in a season over the last 60 years, according to Elias.

The Bengals are 7-3-1 all-time against the Eagles. Their .682 winning percentage is the best by any team that has played the Eagles at least five times.

But keep in mind that the Eagles almost always finish strong.

Under Andy Reid (who became coach in 1999), the Eagles are 39-16 in December. That is the second-best December record in the NFL during that span behind the Patriots’ 46-10 mark.

Digging in to the AFC North draft strategy

April, 12, 2012
Stats & Information gets you ready for the NFL Draft at the end of the month with a look at the biggest need for each team. Today, we switch conferences to the AFC North.

Baltimore Ravens
Need: Secondary

The departure of Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura in the offseason makes finding an heir-apparent to aging safety Ed Reed a priority.

From 2008-2010, the Ravens ranked third among NFL defenses in lowest Total QBR allowed on passes that traveled at least 10 yards downfield. In 2011, the Ravens finished 23rd in the league.

While the Ravens finished second in the NFL with 72 passes defended last season, only 31 percent of those were on attempts thrown at least 10 yards downfield, 27th among NFL defenses.

Baltimore needs a safety to match up in coverage against the evolving NFL tight end. The Ravens allowed 2.4 yards after contact on passes to a tight end last season, ranking 30th in the NFL.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame

Cincinnati Bengals
Needs: Offensive line, secondary

Drafting a solid guard will complement young quarterback Andy Dalton and new running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The Bengals lost starting guards Mike McGlynn and Nate Livings to free agency in the offseason. Livings was one of two players on offense to play every snap last year.

The Bengals struggled to get any push from interior linemen in the run game last year, averaging only 2.0 yards before initial contact on runs inside the tackles, second-worst in the NFL.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: David DeCastro, G, Stanford and Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: David DeCastro, G, Stanford and Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

Cleveland Browns
Needs: Wide receiver, running back, offensive line

With Robert Griffin III likely off the board already, the Browns can still bolster their quarterback position by drafting a playmaker at wideout.

Colt McCoy finished right at the NFL average with 5.0 attempts per off-target throw last year -- better than Cam Newton, Matt Schaub and Tom Brady -- but got very little help from receivers on catchable passes.

The Browns were largely ineffective on the ground last year, finishing 31st in the NFL with 3.7 yards per rush. A replacement for Peyton Hillis would help, as would better run blocking up the middle and to the right. The Browns averaged just 3.4 yards when running to the right, worst in the NFL.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama and Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State and Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

Pittsburgh Steelers
Needs: Linebacker, Defensive Line

With the departure of key defensive players including Chris Hoke, William Gay, Aaron Smith and James Farrior, it’s time for the Steelers to replenish what has been a top defensive unit in football since 2008.

Pittsburgh linebackers tallied 15 tackles for loss in 2011, less than one per game, second-worst among NFL defenses at the linebacker position.

Defensive starters Casey Hampton, Brett Keisel and James Harrison will all be age 34 or older by mid-September.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
The New England Patriots exacted some revenge on the New York Jets with a 30-21 victory Sunday at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots have now won 19 straight regular-season home games, the longest active streak in the NFL and tied for the fifth-longest streak in NFL history.

Tom Brady extended his regular-season home winning streak to 30 games, but did see his streak of 13-straight games with multiple touchdown passes come to an end. The 13 leave him tied with Peyton Manning for the longest such streak in NFL history.

Brady and crew outgained the Jets 446-to-255 in total yardage, while making it three straight games in which a team has scored 30 or more points against the Jets. That is the longest such streak for the Jets since Week 1-3 of the 2002 season.

Wes Welker
Wes Welker continued his stellar start to the 2011 campaign by gaining 124 yards on five receptions. He now has 740 yards receiving on the season, the most ever by a player in his team's first five games.

It's even more impressive when you consider that Jets wide receivers as a whole have a total of 573 receiving yards.

Welker gained 43 yards after the catch on the opening play of the second half and finished the game with a 12.8 average yards after catch. In his 50th regular season game since 2008, Sunday was only the fourth time Welker has averaged double-digit YAC.

The Jets entered the game saying they would be more dedicated to the ground -- and they were rushing the ball on 47-percent of plays, up from 37-percent earlier this season -- but were outgained on the ground by their opponent for the fifth straight game to start the season, thanks to a career-best 136 rushing yards by BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

With so much concentration on stopping the pass, the Jets couldn't figure out how to stop Green-Ellis. Out of respect for Brady's arm, the Jets defense put six or fewer defenders in the box on 58 of 79 snaps.

Green-Ellis excelled with six or fewer Jets in the box, rushing for 99 yards and a touchdown against that formation. Entering Sunday 35 of Green-Ellis's 50 season carries had come with at least seven in the box, so he enjoyed the extra room.

He finished with two touchdowns on the ground against the Jets, their eighth rushing touchdown allowed through five games this season. In each of the previous two season the Jets allowed 11 rush touchdowns.

Shonn Greene did rush for 83 yards and a touchdown, however New York was held to fewer than 100 yards rushing for the third time in five games this season.

In Rex Ryan's first two seasons as head coach, the Jets had been held to fewer than 100 yards rushing a total of three times.
When the New England Patriots drafted Oklahoma State quarterback Zac Robinson in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft, one fact rang out.

Since Tom Brady led the Pats to their first Super Bowl title in 2001, they have used more draft picks on quarterbacks (5) than running backs (4).

That's not to say the Patriots haven't had the need to invest in a backup for Brady -- in fact, one of those QBs drafted was Matt Cassel. All he did was lead the Patriots to an 11-5 record when Brady was injured in the first game of the 2008 season.

The point is this: New England has not had someone who has been able to run the ball, at least with any sort of consistency, since Corey Dillon.

The Patriots are on the road against the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football (8:30 ET, ESPN). Given the way they have played outside the state of Massachusetts lately, there is no reason to think the Patriots will win.

Minus a "road game" against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that was played on the other side of the Atlantic, the Patriots are 1-7 on the road since the start of 2009. These are just a few of the teams that have more road wins than the Patriots since last season: Kansas City Chiefs (4), Oakland Raiders (3), Buccaneers (3) and Cleveland Browns (2).

The Patriots' last two road wins have come against the Buffalo Bills (Week 17 of 2008; Week 15 of 2009). In those two wins, one statistic jumps off the page: running backs who carried the ball at least 20 times. Last year it was Laurence Maroney (23 rushes, 81 yards). In 2008, they had LaMont Jordan (20 rushes, 64 yards) and Sammy Morris (24-85). Now, I know what you are going to say: The Patriots and Bills had to run the ball in that 2008 game because it was so windy. That's correct. Cassel threw the ball just eight times and the Patriots had 47 rushes in their 13-0 win.

It's no coincidence that the last two times the Patriots have had a running back carry the ball 20 times in a road game that they won each time.

Still not buying the argument?

Then how about 42-1?

That's the Patriots' record in games since 2001 when they have a running back carry the ball at least 20 times. Not only is that the best win percentage (.977) in the NFL over that span, but they're the only team over .900. (Tampa Bay is next at .857, 36-6). The Patriots are 22-0 at home and 20-1 on the road in such games. (The one loss was, oddly enough, in 2004 at Miami on Monday Night Football.)

The Patriots aren't a running team, and they aren’t going to change their stripes overnight. But these are the facts: Bill Belichick and company have lost seven of their last eight true road games and have been outscored in the second half in each contest. Of the seven losses, five were by seven points or fewer, so it wasn't as if there was a need to abandon the run because of the score. Tom Brady has thrown seven second-half interceptions while the New England defense has picked off just three. The defense has been on the field almost 26 minutes more than their opponents after halftime in those games (132:58 to 107:02).

This isn't to say that the Patriots are going to win on Monday if BenJarvus Green-Ellis carries the ball 20 times.

Although the one game in Green-Ellis’ career in which he had at least 20 carries, the Patriots won.