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Superman

Evidence that RBs benefit from the passing game, not the other way around

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The common refrain is 'we need a good RB to take pressure off the QB,' 'you have to have a good rushing attack to establish play action,' etc. There was a lot of that here during the offseason, leading up to the draft (because Barkley was so popular), and since then (because Bell is so coveted). 

 

Well take a look at this:

 

Simply put, defenses only put eight defenders in the box against the Rams on 8.2% of their rushing attempts. Todd Gurley was a legitimate MVP candidate most of the season, finishing with 1,251 yards, 4.9 yards/attempt, and 17 rushing TDs.

 

It's also important to note that the Rams used at least three receivers on a league high 96% of their offensive snaps. It's hard to stack the box against 11 personnel.

 

The correlation suggests that Gurley benefits from playing in an offense that's efficient at throwing the ball and will spread the defense out, which runs counter to the traditional thinking that the RB takes pressure off of the QB. I believe it's actually the other way around, and this data is just one indication of why.

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The Seahawks are actually misleading because they use 6 OL the most in the league and thus get good protection for their QB which leaves a lot of 1-on-1s for their 2 or 3 WRs they use.

 

But I do get your point about stacked boxes. 

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8 minutes ago, chad72 said:

The Seahawks are actually misleading because they use 6 OL the most in the league and thus get good protection for their QB which leaves a lot of 1-on-1s for their 2 or 3 WRs they use.

 

But I do get your point about stacked boxes. 

 

Interesting that Seattle uses more 6OL than anyone else, but has the 9th lowest rate of stacked boxes. Just to account for every gap requires 8 players.

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18 minutes ago, Superman said:

 

Interesting that Seattle uses more 6OL than anyone else, but has the 9th lowest rate of stacked boxes. Just to account for every gap requires 8 players.

 

It is probably because they have a spy for Russell Wilson due to which 1 or 2 defenders play 2 gaps, maybe???

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3 hours ago, Finball said:

 

Great stuff there.

 

Quote

This also illustrates another important point: passing success generally acts independent of rushing success. Since 2016, the correlation between a teams Positive% on the ground and their Positive% through the air is close to zero, and this correlation even holds true when looking at play action. On average, success rate on play action passes tended to stay around 50 percent, with some noise on either side, regardless of a team’s success on the ground.

 

I've been banging this drum for a while. Play action success doesn't require a great rushing attack. Play action is a weapon on its own, and teams generally don't use it enough.

 

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17 hours ago, chad72 said:

 

It is probably because they have a spy for Russell Wilson due to which 1 or 2 defenders play 2 gaps, maybe???

 

That's true, if you two-gap anywhere, the math changes.

 

I don't know if teams spy RW as much as they used to. I'll have to look for numbers on that.

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https://amp.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000996948/article/running-the-football-still-works-plus-the-amari-cooper-effect?networkId=4595&site=.news&zone=story&zoneUrl=url%3Dstory&zoneKeys=s1%3Dstory&env&pageKeyValues=prtnr%3Dscouts-notebook%3Bplyr%3Dphillip_lindsay&p.ct=Scout's Notebook&p.adsm=true&p.tcm=%23666&p.bgc1m=%23EAEAEA&sr=amp#referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&amp_tf=From %1%24s

 

This topic was discussed last offseason. But mostly from pov on elite rb's not necessarily just strong running games.

 

Regardless of the reported stats are on 8 men in the box, a elite runner will help the passing game. It's just logical. Just like a great passer will help a rb rush better. The Defense will look to stop/slow down your strength and in doing so will be more vulnerable elsewhere. It's Logical. It's Football.

 

Seattle I don't feel is a good example of small % pf stacked defenses because they lack a elite back. 

 

Let's use Zeke as a example. Regardless of the said % of defensive players lined up in the imaginary box can we honestly think that Zeke IS NOT the main focal point of the defense? Are we really suppose to beleive Zeke doesn't help open the defense up for Dak in the passing game? With playaction and safetties/lb's looking and cheating a bit to help in run support naturally opens receivers up.

Dak is a average passer at best. His success is dependent on Zeke, score, down and distance.

I heard some teams use Nickel as their Base Defense on 1st down in todays passing league. I doubt teams do that vs Cowboys.

 

Lets talk briefly about Jacksonville. Their passing game totally sucks. Teams focus on Fournette, who is nowhere as talented as a back like Zeke. But he's the best weapon they have and make him their priority on offense. He's the reason why Bortles can do some PA and complete safe short passes and maybe take a shot downfield once in a while.

Fournette had a injury riddled season and the Jags correspondingly had a miserable season. 

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19 hours ago, Superman said:

It's also important to note that the Rams used at least three receivers on a league high 96% of their offensive snaps. It's hard to stack the box against 11 personnel.

 

12 minutes ago, LJpalmbeacher2 said:

Regardless of the reported stats are on 8 men in the box, a elite runner will help the passing game. It's just logical. Just like a great passer will help a rb rush better. The Defense will look to stop/slow down your strength and in doing so will be more vulnerable elsewhere. It's Logical. It's Football.

 

It's about balance.  An effective passing game opens up opportunities for the running game and vice versa.  Peyton used to exploit defenses using 3 WR sets with Harrison, Wayne, Stokely, and Clark as receiving threats, then hand it off to Edge on a draw for an 8-yd gain.  Then he could play-action to Edge to great effect.

 

The Rams show a passing look with 3 WRs, then Goff play-actions to an elite RB in Gurley, then hits a WR downfield.  The LBs are between a rock and a hard place because it looks like a pass, then it looks like a run, then it ends up being a pass.

 

The Cowboys had a great rushing attack that was effective because of the threat of Witten and Dez, so they could do the same thing with play-action to Murray or Zeke, then find a wide-open Witten or Dez.  Their rushing attack wasn't as effective without a receiving threat until they got Cooper this year, and restored balance to their offense.

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20 minutes ago, LJpalmbeacher2 said:

With playaction and safetties/lb's looking and cheating a bit to help in run support naturally opens receivers up.

 

So despite studies that show that success on play action isn't dependent on success in the run game, people continue to make this claim.

 

Quote

I heard some teams use Nickel as their Base Defense on 1st down in todays passing league. I doubt teams do that vs Cowboys.

 

Yet defenses play nickel against the Rams, extensively. They have a great, highly productive RB. The difference is that the Rams spread teams out with 11 personnel, rather than trying to use the run to set up play action, which has no impact on the success of play action.

 

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11 minutes ago, Lucky Colts Fan said:

It's about balance.  An effective passing game opens up opportunities for the running game and vice versa.  Peyton used to exploit defenses using 3 WR sets with Harrison, Wayne, Stokely, and Clark as receiving threats, then hand it off to Edge on a draw for an 8-yd gain.  Then he could play-action to Edge to great effect.

 

The Rams show a passing look with 3 WRs, then Goff play-actions to an elite RB in Gurley, then hits a WR downfield.  The LBs are between a rock and a hard place because it looks like a pass, then it looks like a run, then it ends up being a pass.

 

The Cowboys had a great rushing attack that was effective because of the threat of Witten and Dez, so they could do the same thing with play-action to Murray or Zeke, then find a wide-open Witten or Dez.  Their rushing attack wasn't as effective without a receiving threat until they got Cooper this year, and restored balance to their offense.

 

Balance is the key, and there's a clearly symbiotic relationship between the rushing attack and the passing game.

 

The problem is the myth that you have to run to set up the pass, and the related myths that an offense needs an elite RB to take pressure off the QB (or that it even works), or that you have to establish the run for play action to be effective.

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2 minutes ago, Superman said:

They have a great, highly productive RB. The difference is that the Rams spread teams out with 11 personnel, rather than trying to use the run to set up play action, which has no impact on the success of play action.

 

This is a pretty good read on McVay and the 11 personnel:

 

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000001011448/article/keys-to-sean-mcvays-sean-paytons-differing-offensive-methods

 

It allows the offense to run hurry-up more effectively, which is what Peyton used to do as well.

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17 minutes ago, Lucky Colts Fan said:

 

 

It's about balance.  An effective passing game opens up opportunities for the running game and vice versa.  Peyton used to exploit defenses using 3 WR sets with Harrison, Wayne, Stokely, and Clark as receiving threats, then hand it off to Edge on a draw for an 8-yd gain.  Then he could play-action to Edge to great effect.

 

The Rams show a passing look with 3 WRs, then Goff play-actions to an elite RB in Gurley, then hits a WR downfield.  The LBs are between a rock and a hard place because it looks like a pass, then it looks like a run, then it ends up being a pass.

 

The Cowboys had a great rushing attack that was effective because of the threat of Witten and Dez, so they could do the same thing with play-action to Murray or Zeke, then find a wide-open Witten or Dez.  Their rushing attack wasn't as effective without a receiving threat until they got Cooper this year, and restored balance to their offense.

 

Exactly. 

A elite passing attack will help a rb and vice versa.

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6 minutes ago, Superman said:

Yet defenses play nickel against the Rams, extensively. They have a great, highly productive RB. The difference is that the Rams spread teams out with 11 personnel, rather than trying to use the run to set up play action, which has no impact on the success of play action.

 

Like you said, it's symbiotic.

 

Spread out the defense with 11 personnel making it easier for Gurley to run against a nickel defense.  Then Goff can play-action with more success.

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2 minutes ago, Lucky Colts Fan said:

 

This is a pretty good read on McVay and the 11 personnel:

 

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000001011448/article/keys-to-sean-mcvays-sean-paytons-differing-offensive-methods

 

It allows the offense to run hurry-up more effectively, which is what Peyton used to do as well.

 

A good point in that article is that they have good blocking receivers, especially Woods and Reynolds, which helps them run effectively from 11 personnel.

 

In general, I'm a fan of fewer personnel groupings and formations. A big part of that is the evolution of the Manning/Moore offense in Indy. They could do pretty much everything they wanted out of 11 or 12 personnel, and with no subs they could stay in no-huddle and keep the defense on its heels. If the offense runs everything out of the same looks, it's harder for the defense to key on tendencies.

 

The Rams have taken that a step further by adding a lot of motion -- something Manning's offenses didn't use. 

 

Reich uses a lot of groupings, which works because he usually has a good feel for how to call plays and get the offense in a rhythm (with a few exceptions this season, and hopefully he self-scouts and gets some things figured out; he was bad in the Chiefs game, IMO, and a couple others). Payton and the Saints use a ton of groupings and formations, and it works for them. I don't know if I'd say one is better than the other, but I definitely have a preference.

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2 minutes ago, Superman said:

The Rams have taken that a step further by adding a lot of motion -- something Manning's offenses didn't use. 

 

Payton and the Saints use a ton of groupings and formations, and it works for them. I don't know if I'd say one is better than the other, but I definitely have a preference.

 

That was interesting to me.  It's about exploiting the defense, but they do it in two different ways.

 

I agree with you, though.  I loved watching Peyton Manning work the hurry-up with that 11 personnel.

 

I feel like Sean Payton might outsmart himself once in a while with those crazy personnel groupings.

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6 minutes ago, Lucky Colts Fan said:

Then Goff can play-action with more success.

 

This is the part that I don't agree with. Play action doesn't require a good rushing attack or even a good back to be successful.

 

I think people have this idea burned in of a QB drawing a defender out of position with a play action fake, then hitting a big pass play over the top of the defense. The majority of successful play action passes aren't for big plays, and the majority of play action passes are successful in getting defenders out of position, which is the entire point of play action. And there's no correlation between successful rushing and successful play action.

 

If you want to go tumbling down the rabbit hole on this:

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2018/further-research-play-action-passing

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2018/rushing-success-and-play-action-passing

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2018/situational-play-action-passing-nfl

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/can-nfl-coaches-overuse-play-action-they-havent-yet/

 

This type of research supports the conclusion that play action is under-used across the board, including situationally. It also supports the conclusion that play action success isn't dependent on rushing success.

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3 minutes ago, Superman said:

This is the part that I don't agree with. Play action doesn't require a good rushing attack or even a good back to be successful.

 

I think people have this idea burned in of a QB drawing a defender out of position with a play action fake, then hitting a big pass play over the top of the defense. The majority of successful play action passes aren't for big plays, and the majority of play action passes are successful in getting defenders out of position, which is the entire point of play action. And there's no correlation between successful rushing and successful play action.

 

If you want to go tumbling down the rabbit hole on this:

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2018/further-research-play-action-passing

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2018/rushing-success-and-play-action-passing

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2018/situational-play-action-passing-nfl

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/can-nfl-coaches-overuse-play-action-they-havent-yet/

 

This type of research supports the conclusion that play action is under-used across the board, including situationally. It also supports the conclusion that play action success isn't dependent on rushing success.

 

I think it shows that there has to at least be the threat of an effective rushing attack for play-action to be effective.

 

And if the defense doesn't fear the RB because he's nowhere near elite, play-action won't be as effective.  I can remember stretches where the Colts were having to start 3rd-string RBs due to injury, and Peyton couldn't buy a play-action pass.  Teams just played the pass and dared us to run with backup RBs.

 

Play-action isn't anymore effective on 3rd and long than non-play-action throws, but it's more effective on 1st down, 2nd down, and 3rd down and <3 where there's the threat of a run.  But that has more to do with situational football than how good the RB is, so you may be right.  :dunno:

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Completely agree with @Superman here and the data supports everything he's preaching here. The process of "establishing the run" is a myth. The run has been established on snap 1 of every single game. Do you know why? Because for a 100 years coaches have been hammering into players heads - "STOP THE RUN, STOP THE RUN, STOP THE RUN". You don't need 3-5-10-20 snaps more to establish it anymore. On snap 1 defenders are already trying to stop the run. 

 

Also... the playaction passing success has NO correlation whatsoever with the ability of teams to run the football. Do you know why? Because defenders read in-snap keys to defend the run. They don't defend the run on playaction plays because you've ran the ball on the previous 3 plays. The only factor that has big impact pre-snap is the alignment and responsibilities(i.e. how stacked your box is). At this point I have no idea why you would ever run a non-playaction passing play from under center. The success is so much higher on those precisely because defenders sell out to defend the run. I think there probably is a huge need for a completely new system for teaching players how to defend that type of plays(like never reading the running keys and always playing the pass first or something of the sort, I'm not smart enough to devise it but I bet smart football people are already thinking about it or if they are not they should be). 

 

I can't wait for the time when phrases like "establish the run" will be looked at by the football community the same way "you need more midrange jumpers and more post-ups" is looked at in today's basketball. 

 

BTW all 4 of the remaining teams in the playoffs are in the bottom 7 of stopping the run in the NFL. Stopping the run should be the LAST priority of teams. 

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We do spread the ball a lot.  A whole lot.  We have a pro bowl QB who had a great year throwing.  We have receivers that are good blockers and we had a great OL this year.  Yet we can't run the ball effectively.  A handful of games maybe.  Yet our RB's should have benefited from our passing attack.   So what's the problem?  Could it be we still need to find a No.1 RB?  Next year we will be playing a tougher schedule.  Better teams than this year supposedly.   Do we stand pat with Mack being the main man?   I guess we will find out in due time. 

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45 minutes ago, Lucky Colts Fan said:

 

I think it shows that there has to at least be the threat of an effective rushing attack for play-action to be effective.

 

And if the defense doesn't fear the RB because he's nowhere near elite, play-action won't be as effective.  I can remember stretches where the Colts were having to start 3rd-string RBs due to injury, and Peyton couldn't buy a play-action pass.  Teams just played the pass and dared us to run with backup RBs.

 

Play-action isn't anymore effective on 3rd and long than non-play-action throws, but it's more effective on 1st down, 2nd down, and 3rd down and <3 where there's the threat of a run.  But that has more to do with situational football than how good the RB is, so you may be right.  :dunno:

 

Rams playaction has been effective with CJ Anderson. Motion and threat of run, not necessearily the RB makes the D bite and overplay the run. Rams run game has been effective with CJ too, the guy who has been cut from 3 teams this past calendar year.

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1 hour ago, Lucky Colts Fan said:

 

I think it shows that there has to at least be the threat of an effective rushing attack for play-action to be effective.

 

And if the defense doesn't fear the RB because he's nowhere near elite, play-action won't be as effective.  I can remember stretches where the Colts were having to start 3rd-string RBs due to injury, and Peyton couldn't buy a play-action pass.  Teams just played the pass and dared us to run with backup RBs.

 

Play-action isn't anymore effective on 3rd and long than non-play-action throws, but it's more effective on 1st down, 2nd down, and 3rd down and <3 where there's the threat of a run.  But that has more to do with situational football than how good the RB is, so you may be right.  :dunno:

 

To the bolded, I don't get that, at all. Definitely not from those articles I linked (which are very data heavy, and I'm still trying to digest it all, but the writer's conclusions are spelled out very simply). 

 

To the italicized, anecdotally, we can find a lot of variables and anomalies. But when the Colts were playing bad RBs, they were also playing bad linemen. And Manning might have had more impact on how defenses were coached than any QB in NFL history -- from the no-huddle, to his pre-snap demonstrations, adjustments and * calls, to his mastery of play action. 

 

And I don't have numbers, but I'm willing to bet that even when the Colts had issues at RB and OL, they were still more effective on play action passes than on non-play action passes. Inefficiencies in the offense would have applied to every aspect of the offense, but the relationship between play action and the rushing attack would most likely have been consistent with the more recent historical data.

 

I'd also like to note that the wide-reaching move away away from the ground-and-pound NFL to the more pass-happy NFL wasn't embraced during Manning's Indy tenure; maybe he was one of the pioneers of it, but the effectiveness of the passing game and it's relationship to a dominant rushing attack has changed in the last decade-plus.

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1 hour ago, stitches said:

BTW all 4 of the remaining teams in the playoffs are in the bottom 7 of stopping the run in the NFL. Stopping the run should be the LAST priority of teams. 

 

I'm not as far down the road on this as you are, and a lot of blogger-analysts have gone down that road as well. 

 

I still think that situationally, being good on the ground and against the run is critically important. Being able to get a short yardage stop would have helped us against the Chiefs, for instance. Being able to run would have helped keep their offense off the field. 

 

And because NFL coaches are still largely too conservative -- see: Mike Zimmer; Chuck Pagano; etc. -- teams will still try to run the ball down your throat. I would; if you can't stop my run game and I'm scoring points, I'm going to keep running it.

 

But that's different from 'establish the run game early, set up the pass and play action,' which is fallacious, according to the data. If anything, it works the other way around.

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9 minutes ago, Superman said:

 

I'm not as far down the road on this as you are, and a lot of blogger-analysts have gone down that road as well. 

 

I still think that situationally, being good on the ground and against the run is critically important. Being able to get a short yardage stop would have helped us against the Chiefs, for instance. Being able to run would have helped keep their offense off the field. 

 

And because NFL coaches are still largely too conservative -- see: Mike Zimmer; Chuck Pagano; etc. -- teams will still try to run the ball down your throat. I would; if you can't stop my run game and I'm scoring points, I'm going to keep running it.

 

But that's different from 'establish the run game early, set up the pass and play action,' which is fallacious, according to the data. If anything, it works the other way around.

I agree situationally... on 3d/4th and short, goalline situations, draining the clock situations, etc. I'm talking about game-flow neutral situations(1st/2nd/3d and 5+ on the 5-to-95 for example) and anything that's not 3d/4th and short/goalline. 

 

BTW notice - I still don't say "don't pay any attention to it whatsoever". I say prioritize everything else before you get to that one. When your pass-rush and your secondary pass-defense and your linebackers pass-coverage is all sorted out, sure... make sure you also be as good as possible in the run defense. But do not sacrifice ANY of the  previously listed in order to stop the run. 

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1 hour ago, Superman said:

 

This is the part that I don't agree with. Play action doesn't require a good rushing attack or even a good back to be successful.

 

I think people have this idea burned in of a QB drawing a defender out of position with a play action fake, then hitting a big pass play over the top of the defense. The majority of successful play action passes aren't for big plays, and the majority of play action passes are successful in getting defenders out of position, which is the entire point of play action. And there's no correlation between successful rushing and successful play action.

 

If you want to go tumbling down the rabbit hole on this:

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2018/further-research-play-action-passing

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2018/rushing-success-and-play-action-passing

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2018/situational-play-action-passing-nfl

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/can-nfl-coaches-overuse-play-action-they-havent-yet/

 

This type of research supports the conclusion that play action is under-used across the board, including situationally. It also supports the conclusion that play action success isn't dependent on rushing success.

I totally get your point on play action is a weapon unto itself and doesn't require the run game to be competent to do so.  I can buy into that, my opinion would be, by the numbers I can agree.  However, if you play defense against a team where you have no concern or respect for that run threat and it can be handled by the front four/five then your passing lanes get real tight because I'm slow to commit, as a backer I start to I cheat the pass, this becomes pick city!  So, the offense will find itself in a chokehold, passing lanes get tight, can't run, game over.  Death by gridlock!  The same holds true in reverse by the way which is why people always talk about making teams one dimensional which is why all the Baltimore Raven hype is just that until the guy can throw...no matter.  So,  it's kinda like you can drown in a puddle of averages if that's all you look at but I would agree on balance the argument has merit and makes sense, I would just caution to leave room for exceptions, I'm not sure I would view it as a universal truth.  Great stuff as always, man, good to see you delivering content again!

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3 minutes ago, Rally5 said:

However, if you play defense against a team where you have no concern or respect for that run threat and it can be handled by the front four/five then your passing lanes get real tight because I'm slow to commit, as a backer I start to I cheat the pass, this becomes pick city!

 

So here's one of the areas of offensive balance and efficiency that I think is critical: Can you run effectively out of 11 personnel against nickel and dime defenses? The Rams can, and that's probably the crux of their offensive efficiency.

 

So if a defense has no respect for my run game and goes nickel or dime more than usual, my offense has to be effective at exploiting that advantage. (We have a big time receiving threat at TE, so we can even do this out of 12 personnel, theoretically.) If you can't run against a five or six man front, I think you have bigger problems than the RB.
 

Quote

 

So,  it's kinda like you can drown in a puddle of averages if that's all you look at but I would agree on balance the argument has merit and makes sense, I would just caution to leave room for exceptions, I'm not sure I would view it as a universal truth.

 

 

Absolutely, analytics can be useless without context. There are different kinds of play action, and I think people get wrapped up in the 'back to the defense, drawn out play fake' kind of play action, but now we have teams running RPOs, we see shotgun play action is effective in most situations, etc. Some play callers are better than others, some teams have better personnel at key positions, some teams have flawed fundamentals and tipped their play calls (the Chargers said they picked up on alignments and foot positions to figure out some of the Ravens plays), etc. 

 

But I do think the argument that you have to run the ball, and effectively, to be successful with play action, has been debunked.

 

Quote

Great stuff as always, man, good to see you delivering content again!

 

Much appreciated.

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OC from Reddit: https://old.reddit.com/r/nfl/comments/ahdksn/since_releasing_kareem_hunt_the_chiefs_have/

 

Quote

 

Kareem was released on November 30th. Since then, the run game for the Chiefs have put up...

12/2 Oakland - 174 team rushing yards and 1 touchdown.

12/9 Baltimore - 94 team rushing yards and 1 touchdown.

12/13 Los Angeles - 60 team rushing yards and 2 touchdowns.

12/23 Seattle - 154 team rushing yards.

12/30 Oakland - 99 team rushing yards and 2 touchdowns.

Divisional Colts - 180 team rushing yards and 4 touchdowns.

On top of this, Chiefs runningback have also put up 309 yards (51.5 ypg) and 4 touchdowns through the air.

 

 

Another element of this discussion is the replacement value of RBs.

 

But a variable to consider is that Andy Reid always has productive RBs. He's like the new Mike Shanahan.

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1 hour ago, stitches said:

At this point I have no idea why you would ever run a non-playaction passing play from under center.

 

Because the QB has to turn their head away from the defense on a play-action pass and can't see something like a blind-side nickel blitz.

 

I remember a coach or QB (don't recall exactly who) saying some QBs struggle with having to make an "instant-read" on the defense once they turn their head back around.

 

But that's more about the defense having a perfectly called and disguised play against a play-action pass.

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22 minutes ago, Superman said:

 

So here's one of the areas of offensive balance and efficiency that I think is critical: Can you run effectively out of 11 personnel against nickel and dime defenses? The Rams can, and that's probably the crux of their offensive efficiency.

 

So if a defense has no respect for my run game and goes nickel or dime more than usual, my offense has to be effective at exploiting that advantage. (We have a big time receiving threat at TE, so we can even do this out of 12 personnel, theoretically.) If you can't run against a five or six man front, I think you have bigger problems than the RB.
 

 

Absolutely, analytics can be useless without context. There are different kinds of play action, and I think people get wrapped up in the 'back to the defense, drawn out play fake' kind of play action, but now we have teams running RPOs, we see shotgun play action is effective in most situations, etc. Some play callers are better than others, some teams have better personnel at key positions, some teams have flawed fundamentals and tipped their play calls (the Chargers said they picked up on alignments and foot positions to figure out some of the Ravens plays), etc. 

 

But I do think the argument that you have to run the ball, and effectively, to be successful with play action, has been debunked.

 

 

Much appreciated.

You win!  Keep killing it!

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2 hours ago, stitches said:

Also... the playaction passing success has NO correlation whatsoever with the ability of teams to run the football. Do you know why? Because defenders read in-snap keys to defend the run. They don't defend the run on playaction plays because you've ran the ball on the previous 3 plays. The only factor that has big impact pre-snap is the alignment and responsibilities(i.e. how stacked your box is).

 

59 minutes ago, Superman said:

To the bolded, I don't get that, at all. Definitely not from those articles I linked (which are very data heavy, and I'm still trying to digest it all, but the writer's conclusions are spelled out very simply).

 

I'm gonna have to digest this concept.  The NFL is changing faster than I can keep up.  haha

 

I've been used to the old-school way of thinking:  run the ball til they bring an extra guy in the box, then hit 'em with a play-action over the top.

 

I've always thought of play-action as an effect, not a cause unto itself.

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53 minutes ago, stitches said:

BTW notice - I still don't say "don't pay any attention to it whatsoever". I say prioritize everything else before you get to that one. When your pass-rush and your secondary pass-defense and your linebackers pass-coverage is all sorted out, sure... make sure you also be as good as possible in the run defense. But do not sacrifice ANY of the  previously listed in order to stop the run. 

 

It's getting close to the status of having a great return specialist...

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The entirety if this thread is high quality.  Good job Colts forum!

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47 minutes ago, Lucky Colts Fan said:

 

Because the QB has to turn their head away from the defense on a play-action pass and can't see something like a blind-side nickel blitz.

 

I remember a coach or QB (don't recall exactly who) saying some QBs struggle with having to make an "instant-read" on the defense once they turn their head back around.

 

But that's more about the defense having a perfectly called and disguised play against a play-action pass.

 

Also the timing, some concepts need that QB sees the field all the time and can pull the trigger right away if necesseary.

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1 hour ago, Lucky Colts Fan said:

@Superman  How do you suppose the RPO factors into all this?

 

The RPO is a kind of play-action isn't it?

 

Usually, yes. I'm not sure anyone has singled out RPOs to analyze how defenses react. But there's a difference, for sure. Stitches mentioned that defenses are taught to read keys, not just the QB fake but the action of the blockers as well, and RPOs have different keys. 

 

An RPO might not have an actual play fake, it might just be a "smoke" route where the QB fires the ball to a receiver. They take several forms, but like read options, many of them wind up being run plays. They might even be hard to identify consistently.

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On 1/17/2019 at 12:59 PM, Superman said:

The common refrain is 'we need a good RB to take pressure off the QB,' 'you have to have a good rushing attack to establish play action,' etc. There was a lot of that here during the offseason, leading up to the draft (because Barkley was so popular), and since then (because Bell is so coveted). 

 

Well take a look at this:

 

Simply put, defenses only put eight defenders in the box against the Rams on 8.2% of their rushing attempts. Todd Gurley was a legitimate MVP candidate most of the season, finishing with 1,251 yards, 4.9 yards/attempt, and 17 rushing TDs.

 

It's also important to note that the Rams used at least three receivers on a league high 96% of their offensive snaps. It's hard to stack the box against 11 personnel.

 

The correlation suggests that Gurley benefits from playing in an offense that's efficient at throwing the ball and will spread the defense out, which runs counter to the traditional thinking that the RB takes pressure off of the QB. I believe it's actually the other way around, and this data is just one indication of why.

 

Sorry....   but a rare disagreement for you and me.

 

It's just two teams here.     And I think this is little more than a molehill and not a mountain.

 

And for me,  I'd want a MOUNTAIN of evidence before I'd flip on the viewpoint that has stood the test of time for how many years?    50?   60?    More?

 

I think you can make an argument that opposing team would rather the Seahawks and Rams try to beat them with the running game and are more fearful of getting beaten by the passing game.  The new rules make it much more likely to be carved up by passing than running.    

 

I think this is some level of over-analysis here.

 

I'm not closed to changing a viewpoint here....   I'm simply saying I'd like a much MUCH larger sample size before making a definitive statement.

 

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30 minutes ago, NewColtsFan said:

It's just two teams here.     And I think this is little more than a molehill and not a mountain.

 

And for me,  I'd want a MOUNTAIN of evidence before I'd flip on the viewpoint that has stood the test of time for how many years?    50?   60?    More?

 

...

 

I think this is some level of over-analysis here.

  

I'm not closed to changing a viewpoint here....   I'm simply saying I'd like a much MUCH larger sample size before making a definitive statement.

 

 

There's plenty of evidence about the correlation between wins and rushing. This was just one data point that I think speaks directly to the argument that's often made, usually with the Rams as an example of a team with a good offense, as if the reason they have good offense is because they have a good RB. And that's not the case.

 

Quote

I think you can make an argument that opposing team would rather the Seahawks and Rams try to beat them with the running game and are more fearful of getting beaten by the passing game. The new rules make it much more likely to be carved up by passing than running.    

 

But that's the point. Even with Gurley, defenses aren't stacking the box to stop the run. The conventional thinking is that adding an elite RB leads to stacked boxes which leads to more success in the passing game; that thinking is backward. It's more true that a good passing attack leads to a lighter box, which leads to more success in the run game. And that makes spending major resources on an elite RB superfluous.

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6 hours ago, Superman said:

 

There's plenty of evidence about the correlation between wins and rushing. This was just one data point that I think speaks directly to the argument that's often made, usually with the Rams as an example of a team with a good offense, as if the reason they have good offense is because they have a good RB. And that's not the case.

 

 

But that's the point. Even with Gurley, defenses aren't stacking the box to stop the run. The conventional thinking is that adding an elite RB leads to stacked boxes which leads to more success in the passing game; that thinking is backward. It's more true that a good passing attack leads to a lighter box, which leads to more success in the run game. And that makes spending major resources on an elite RB superfluous.

 

And yet the Rams spent a high first round pick on a RB .  10th overall.     And the Seahawks, who had a 1st round talent with Beastmode now added another 1st round RB this year.     So, if what you're saying is true,  why are successful teams spending top draft capital on a RB.    They shouldn't be.

 

Your argument is nearly saying that the Sun revolves around the earth and not the other way around.    Or that water flows up stream and not down.     Before I'm drinking any of that kookaid,  I'd like a much larger sample size.     This feels like a misread of information is leading to a false conclusion.  

 

The rules are favoring passing.   So opposing teams are not as worried about RB's beating them as they are about QB's.    But I don't think that means that a good RB doesn't help the passing game.

 

I see this differently.....

 

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On 1/17/2019 at 3:59 PM, Superman said:

The correlation suggests that Gurley benefits from playing in an offense that's efficient at throwing the ball and will spread the defense out, which runs counter to the traditional thinking that the RB takes pressure off of the QB. I believe it's actually the other way around, and this data is just one indication of why.

 

You don't need an elite RB, but you still need a RB at least good enough to take advantage of a defense playing the pass.  The Rams had no depth behind Gurley and we saw their offense suffer when he got hurt and no other RB was able to run as effectively until they signed CJ Anderson.

 

Maybe "taking pressure off the QB" and "establishing the run to setup play-action" are misnomers, but you still need a good RB to have an effective run game as part of a balanced offensive attack.

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22 minutes ago, Lucky Colts Fan said:

 

You don't need an elite RB, but you still need a RB at least good enough to take advantage of a defense playing the pass.  The Rams had no depth behind Gurley and we saw their offense suffer when he got hurt and no other RB was able to run as effectively until they signed CJ Anderson.

 

Maybe "taking pressure off the QB" and "establishing the run to setup play-action" are misnomers, but you still need a good RB to have an effective run game as part of a balanced offensive attack.

 

How good is CJ Anderson? He's been cut three times this year, already. I'm not saying he's bad, but he's the definition of a replacement level back, salvaged from the scrap heap in Week 15.

 

I have nothing against good or great RBs. I'm arguing about their impact, and the case of CJ Anderson speaks to the value of a good or great back, relative to an "okay" back like Anderson. 

 

James Conner is another case. Then Jaylen Samuels -- a converted hybrid TE -- took his place and was still able to produce. 

 

So how good of a back do you really need to have an effective run game? If you have a good passing game and a decent OL, there are examples around the league that suggest that an "okay" back is, well, okay. 

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