So I spreadsheeted every main Running Back (the Back with the most rushing attempts on a team for the week 1 game), tracking rushes, rushing yards, receptions, and reception yards, and compared them against the total number of offensive plays and the total offensive yardage. I came up with some percentages and a final efficiency rating. So some notes:
The whole debate surrounding the effectiveness and use of Chris Johnson this last weekend got me pretty annoyed, to the point where I decided to crunch some numbers to try to determine which RBs best contributed to their teams offensive production, and which were the worst. Johnson and his peers after the jump.
Johnson was the 15th most used back relative to their team plays, touching the ball for 30.61% of the Titans' plays. The most used back was Gore for the 49ers, touching the ball a whopping 48.08% of plays. Other notables (from a contractual perspective), Peterson (Vikings) touched at 41.86%, Forte (Bears) touched at 32.81%, Williams (panthers) touched 19.12%, and Jones-Drew (Jaguars) touched at 32.88%. Johnson being in the middle of the road is likely not ideal, but he wasn't exactly grossly under-utilized given the performance of the rest of the team.
Johnson had the 26th best yardage as a function of team yardage, contributing 16.78% of the total effort. The top in this category was Peterson, contributing 55.61% of the Vikings offense. Of the other players above, Forte contributed 41.91%, Gore gave 37.32%, Jones-Drew was responsible for 30.03%, and Williams trailed the entire pack with 7.55% of total offensive contribution.
So the efficiency rating I generated out of this is Yard%/Touch%, which is essentially a ratio. At 1, you are contributing to the team effort on offense at the exact same rate as the rest of your teammates. Above 1, you are pulling the cart. Below 1, and you're weighing everyone else down. I'll have to do some crunching to determine how far away from 1 is your performance statistically good or bad, but my hunch is that anything below .8 is bad, and anything above 1.2 is good. 32 data points probably isn't great to construct a good benchmark standard deviation.
I honestly expected Johnson to be last in this category. Turns out he was 29th, coming in at .55. The top dog was Turner (Falcons), with a 1.84. Peterson was 1.33, Forte 1.28, Gore was .78, and Williams was an amazingly bad .39.
So to conclude, 15 touches for Johnson is worrisome, but compared to the number of plays (49), and the performance of the rest of the team, it doesn't look like Johnson was getting it done, which I think we can all agree on. I was especially surprised that Johnson was middle of the pack on touches given the low number, but it appears that many more players did more damage with a smaller percentage of the offensive pie. Hopefully next week will be a little more outstanding.
If there is enough demand, I'll put the worksheet up on Google Docs. I'll most certainly trace week 2 in relief, and maybe the rest of the season if people are interested.