OrW tracks both teams and players and evaluates one thing—the frequency with which the subject can win the play by running the ball. How do we define this? An offensive run-game win is any run play (excluding kneel-downs) that keeps an offense on track to pick up a first down, or a touchdown if it’s a goal to go situation. For example, on a standard 1st down, the offense has 3 plays (assuming a punt on 4th) to gain 10 yards. To “win” first down, a run would need to pick up 4 yards. If the offense starts from 1st and 10 and picks up 4 yards every play, the series will result in a touchdown every time. This logic extends to any down and distance needed. On 2nd down the team has 2 plays to gain the necessary yardage, so they need to pick up half of it to “win” the down, while on third and fourth down they need to gain the yardage necessary for the first to be labeled a win.
This stat, on a team level, will show who has the most efficient and reliable running games. On a player level, while it shouldn’t be viewed as a be-all end-all stat to evaluate running backs, combining it with a stat like Justis’ that tracks what RB’s do past the line of scrimmage, or Ryan Jackson’s ANRY/A that adjusts running backs yardage for efficiency, it can paint a pretty good picture.
Over the season, I will be posting the weekly results here on settingedge.com, and every four weeks I will be giving a big-picture, season long look at how teams and players are faring. With all the introductory stuff out of the way, let’s take a look at Week Sixteen.
In the penultimate week of the regular season, the two powerhouse rushing attacks in terms of efficiency maintained their place at the top. The Cowboys were far and away the most valuable rushing attack in Ezekiel Elliots return, while Dion Lewis’ career day helped to lock up a bye for the Patriots. Behind them, the Lions (??) had a nice week, while the Panthers continue to lean on the ground game and the Broncos somehow continue to maintain their efficiency. This was another really ugly week for running the ball. As the season has worn on the average success % has gradually decreased, a trend that continued this week.
Looking at the players, it’s clear Ezekiel Elliot didn’t miss much of a beat. While he lacked explosive plays and didn’t find the end zone, Elliot was extremely efficient after missing 6 games. Outside of Elliot, no one had a standout game, with only 6 more rushers finishing above 1 for OrWV, and only 3 of those 6 finished above 2. There isn’t much to say about this week, so let’s just wrap it up here and go out with a bang in week 17.
This was the final weekly update folks. Next week we’ll take a look at the season as a whole and speculate how the run game could impact the playoffs.