Colts, Eagles and 49ers taking different paths to success by going through all NFL defenses
Everyone knows that the NFL is increasingly becoming an overtaking league. Teams throw the ball in almost 60% of plays, and passes are more efficient than transfers. In recent weeks, however, a few teams have used the track in such a way that it is efficient enough to justify extremely heavy use.
This week, we’re going to use this space to take a look at the different ways three teams have used their racing game to good effect. We’ll start with the team that, at the moment, appear to have the best running back in the NFL.
Jonathan Taylor narrowly missed setting an NFL record with his ninth straight game with over 100 total yards and one touchdown, totaling 97 yards and one scoring against the Buccaneers last week. Yet since Week 6, Taylor has made his 136 carries for 878 yards, adding 12 touchdowns for good measure. His performance helped the Colts average 0.12 EPA per rush attempt over that span – better than all but eight. past offenses during this period.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this stretch is the speed at which the Colts create explosive gains. An incredible 11.4% of their rush attempts gained 12 yards or more during this time, per TruMedia. It’s not as if these wins only come from one type of game, however. The Colts use all kinds of trails and all the great games in all kinds of ways.
The offensive line is now back at full strength and absolutely dominates the opposing defenses up front. Taylor is a physical monster who entered as a 90th percentile athlete among NFL running backs based on his performance at the combine; so it doesn’t really need a huge hole to break a big gain. But he gets them anyway, thanks to the hard work of the big guys up front.
Sometimes the blocking is so good, opposing defensive linemen are pushed pass hole, and Taylor has a reduced lane that is even wider than the original precipitation lane. He sees those lanes as well as any comeback in the league, and he takes them every time they come up. Whether it’s one spread, two or more spreads, Taylor has the vision and the patience to get to where the hole really is, instead of where it was meant to be. He excels at using jumps to maintain his top speed when changing direction, allowing him to pick up as many yards as possible on these games.
Even when the block isn’t perfect, Taylor’s combination of vision and bursting puts him in a position to succeed. For such a big back (he weighs 226 pounds) he’s able to get incredibly small going through a hole and then hit the jets to get away from the top seven and enter the secondary. He has a rare talent and the ability to turn what should be small wins into much bigger wins.
Sometimes it all comes together. He gets an excellent block that provides him with a huge hole to go through and work his way up to the second level. Then this hole quickly closes. Taylor uses his vision to spot a path to the next hole, activates the afterburners and has a good run into an excellent that hits the end zone.
Taylor’s success as a runner almost eclipsed his contributions to the passing game. After largely relinquishing clichés transmitted to Nyheim Hines for most of his first season and a half in the NFL, Taylor has taken on an important receiving role as well. He’s had at least three receptions in seven of Indy’s last nine games, and he’s averaged over 9 yards per catch over the year. This type of versatility is very valuable and makes him the most dangerous player in the league right now.
No team has shown more commitment to the race in recent times than the Eagles. Philadelphia has called for a rush on 61% of its shots since Week 9, about 7 percentage points more often than the closest team. As a result, according to our friends at Establishing The Race, the Eagles have a -14.2% success rate compared to expectations, by far the lowest number in the NFL during this time. Having started the season with an extreme incline, this is a remarkable change of season.
The change was warranted, if only because it’s a much better use of Jalen Hurts’ skills. Hurts has looked horrible as a passer in the team’s most recent games, but he has 49 rushing attempts for 263 yards and three scores in the last four. His ability to take off and run on zonal play games turns ordinary games into multidimensional games, and the mere threat of him sneaking over the edge gives Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, and Boston Scott an advantage against players from Defensive line opponents who hesitate for just a fraction of a second before crashing into a transfer.
It helps Philadelphia’s offensive linemen destroy everything in front of them. There are so many games in the last few weeks where the guys up front are throwing multiple defenders to the ground and clearing the way for Hurts and full backs to reach second level completely intact. The Eagles have averaged 2.5 yards before contact per carry since Week 9, according to TruMedia, the third-best mark in the NFL. And it somehow seems weak.
Even when they’re not throwing defenders out of the club, the Eagles linemen perform to perfection. Philly didn’t do much other than pitch the ball last week against the Giants; but if you were looking for an educational tape for offensive linemen, you could do a lot worse than just shoot Philly against New York. These guys are performing so well that the Eagles passed the ball down the throats of some of the Saints League’s top defenses a few weeks ago. The blocking helped them gain 5 yards or more on 40% of their early runs during that four-week streak, according to TruMedia, an elite brand that actually makes running a fairly efficient option on the first and second. the second down.
With a game against the Jets and their top-ranked 30th defense this weekend, we might see fireworks from that Philly ground attack, assuming he can get at least one of his backs enough. good health to play.
We wrote a big article on the basics of the 49ers game before their Super Bowl appearance a few years ago, but the rushing attack might be even more interesting now than it was then. The main reason for this is the way Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel allow them to attack defense in very different ways, even though the 49ers still use their basic concepts with both players.
Samuel, honestly, is a player who makes absolutely no sense. In Week 8, Samuel placed second in the NFL in receiving yards behind only Cooper Kupp. He’s basically played as a running back for the past four weeks and he still ranks first in the NFL in yards per run among the 130 players who have run 200 or more runs. And yet, he could somehow be an even better rusher than a receiver. He’s got 25 carries for 203 yards and five touchdowns this season, with 19 for 181 and four in just the last three games.
The Niners will line him up (or bring him in) in the backfield and use him as a regular running back, running pitch, inside zone, power, split zone, and more. And it all works exactly as if they had Mitchell, Jeff Wilson Jr., Raheem Mostert, or one of their various full-backs behind Jimmy Garoppolo. The way Samuel’s move around the backfield allows them to move their other players from skill stance into different lineups throws the defenses into chaos and turns regular racing games into seemingly unstoppable games.
The Niners also spam a particular game with Samuel in the backfield, while also playing around with how they block him using shifts and moves and different skill and position lineups. Samuel will line up or move next to Garoppolo in the shotgun and take a transfer, but rather than performing an inside transfer like most pistol transfers, Garoppolo swings upside down like he would from the center. , and the game turns into an outside transfer instead. The defenses are completely taken aback by this action.
Mitchell, on the other hand, acts like an old-fashioned workaholic and crushes people. It has an average of 3.4 meters after contact per attempt over the past three weeks, the fourth best score in the league. He was particularly effective running to the edges of the formation, with 25 carries for 125 yards on runs to the tackle or the end, according to TruMedia. And it doesn’t even matter if the defenses load the box with defenders. Mitchell has gained nearly 6 yards per carry against 8-man boxes since returning from his injury earlier in the season.
With Samuel out this week against the Seahawks, Mitchell could play an even bigger role in the attacking game plan than he has been in his last two appearances, when he totaled 27 races in each game. His increased use as a wide receiver allows him to stay on the pitch even more often and in turn makes the 49ers’ offense even more dangerous.