Can Patriots backs make ’em miss?


The guys at Pro Football Focus have done it again, this time coming up with a metric called “Elusive Rating” for running backs.

They measure “missed tackles forced” and “yards after contact,” and use those in a formula against ball-handling opportunities. The math on this is a little confusing. The concept isn’t … it’s an attempt to figure which backs are best beating defenders one-on-one.

The PFF folks were nice enough to pass along the full spreadsheet, and two Patriots were among the 63 qualifiers. Might surprise you to see that Laurence Maroney (29th) outranked Kevin Faulk (35th). For perspective, here’s how 25-40 looked …

25. Correll Buckhalter, Broncos
26. Tim Hightower, Cardinals
27. Darren McFadden, Raiders
28. Ryan Grant, Packers
29. Laurence Maroney, Patriots
30. Justin Fargas, Raiders
31. Brandon Jacobs, Giants
32. Matt Forte, Bears
33. Chris Brown, Texans
34. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
35. Kevin Faulk, Patriots
36. Frank Gore, 49ers
37. Rock Cartwright, Redskins
38. Marion Barber, Cowboys
39. Reggie Bush, Saints
40. LeSean McCoy, Eagles

The Patriots backs were down near the bottom of the list in percentage of yards after contact, with Maroney ranking 42d (60.24) and Faulk 55th (54.63). They were a little higher in the missed-tackle metrics — Maroney was 24th in the running game and 25th in the passing game, and Faulk was 43d and 45th, respectively.

Surprised? I was, a bit, by Faulk’s rankings, because the eye test says he makes plenty of defenders miss.

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