FanPost

"Running on Empty" - a 2009 analysis of the run game (what's that smell?)

There has been recent discussion and posts regarding the state of Denver's running game last year and found out that my perceived notion that we were lacking in 3rd and short conversions was not too accurate.  BShrout wrote a post about this myth (or more accurately, not as huge of a problem as I thought). 

I decided to spend some time analyzing the running game from last year.  Jump with me, won't you?

 

I developed my own level of ineptitude to discern a running game.  Two yards...six feet...slightly longer than Alphonso Smith, was my baseline to determine a "poor" rush vs an acceptable rush.  I know people would view someone with a 3yd per carry back an atrocity, but bear with me.  I went with it to show how often (or not) a rush of 2yds or less was encountered by the Broncos.  When you think about it, if a team avgs 4 yds a carry, you would imagine that there would be a concentration of rushes in the 3-5 yds a carry.  However, after reviewing what we did, we had plenty of big runs (8+yds) but seemingly had way more poor runs.

 I went back thru each game and pilphered thru the gamebooks @ nfl.com (thanks for noting this vault of info, BShrout) to review every running play in 2009.

I broke out the 1st half and 2nd half results, as well as the rushes from the shotgun formation and from under center.

(NOTE: the % reflects the % of rushes which were 2 yds or less, therefore the higher the % the worse the run game did)

 

                          1 st half                        2nd half Game
< 2 yds > 2yds Total % < 2 < 2 yds > 2yds Total % < 2 % < 2
                   
@ Cincinnati 4 5 9 44% 6 4 10 60% 53%
Shotgun 1 1 2 50% 0 1 1 0% 33%
Under Center 3 4 7 43% 6 3 9 67% 56%
                 
Cleveland 5 8 13 38% 10 11 21 48% 44%
Shotgun 0 0 0 0% 1 0 1 100% 100%
Under Center 5 8 13 38% 9 11 20 45% 42%
                 
@ Oakland 7 10 17 41% 11 14 25 44% 43%
Shotgun 0 2 2 0% 5 5 10 50% 42%
Under Center 7 8 15 47% 6 9 15 40% 43%
                 
Dallas 0 5 5 0% 4 12 16 25% 19%
Shotgun 0 1 1 0% 0 4 4 0% 0%
Under Center 0 4 4 0% 4 8 12 33% 25%
                 
New England 3 7 10 30% 8 8 16 50% 42%
Shotgun 0 0 0 0% 1 4 5 20% 20%
Under Center 3 7 10 30% 7 4 11 64% 48%
                 
@ San Diego 3 7 10 30% 10 8 18 56% 46%
Shotgun 2 3 5 40% 3 2 5 60% 50%
Under Center 1 4 5 20% 7 6 13 54% 44%
                 
@ Baltimore 5 5 10 50% 5 2 7 71% 59%
Shotgun 0 1 1 0% 0 0 0 0% 0%
Under Center 5 4 9 56% 5 2 7 71% 63%
                 
Pitt 5 6 11 45% 3 0 3 100% 57%
Shotgun 0 1 1 0% 1 0 1 100% 50%
Under Center 5 5 10 50% 2 0 2 100% 58%
                 
@ Washington 6 6 12 50% 2 4 6 33% 44%
Shotgun 1 0 1 100% 0 0 0 0% 100%
Under Center 5 6 11 45% 2 4 6 33% 41%
                 
San Diego 3 7 10 30% 2 6 8 25% 28%
Shotgun 0 1 1 0% 2 1 3 67% 50%
Under Center 3 6 9 33% 0 5 5 0% 21%
                 
NYGiants 8 12 20 40% 12 9 21 57% 49%
Shotgun 1 1 2 50% 1 0 1 100% 67%
Under Center 7 11 18 39% 11 9 20 55% 47%
                 
KC 5 14 19 26% 8 14 22 36% 32%
Shotgun 0 3 3 0% 0 0 0 0% 0%
Under Center 5 11 16 31% 8 14 22 36% 34%
                 
@ Indy 8 8 16 50% 7 5 12 58% 54%
Shotgun 1 2 3 33% 2 1 3 67% 50%
Under Center 7 6 13 54% 5 4 9 56% 55%
                 
Oakland 3 9 12 25% 11 4 15 73% 52%
Shotgun 0 1 1 0% 0 1 1 0% 0%
Under Center 3 8 11 27% 11 3 14 79% 56%
                 
@ Philadelphia 5 3 8 63% 5 5 10 50% 56%
Shotgun 0 0 0 0% 2 2 4 50% 50%
Under Center 5 3 8 63% 3 3 6 50% 57%
                 
KC 8 6 14 57% 5 4 9 56% 57%
Shotgun 1 2 3 33% 0 1 1 0% 25%
Under Center 7 4 11 64% 5 3 8 63% 63%

 

The results for the season were:

                  1 st half                       2nd half Game
SEASON < 2 yds > 2yds Total % < 2 < 2 yds > 2yds Total % < 2 % < 2
HALF Totals 78 118 196 40% 109 110 219 50% 45%
Shotgun 7 19 26 27% 18 22 40 45% 38%
Under Center 71 99 170 42% 91 88 179 51% 46%

Lastly, the breakdown of each of the above in the wins and losses.

  

                    1 st half                    2nd half Game
< 2 yds > 2yds Total % < 2 < 2 yds > 2yds Total % < 2 % < 2
WINS 35 68 103 34% 69 80 149 46% 41%
Shotgun 4 11 15 27% 11 16 27 41% 36%
Under Center 31 57 88 35% 58 64 122 48% 42%
LOSSES 43 50 93 46% 40 30 70 57% 51%
Shotgun 3 8 11 27% 7 6 13 54% 42%
Under Center 40 42 82 49% 33 24 57 58% 53%

Final thoughts:

The amount of running plays when comparing the 1st half and 2nd half was not significantly different (for the season - 10% more in the 2nd half - and we did significantly more in wins, as one would expect). 

However, one item that jumps from the page to me is how in wins or losses we were around 25% worse in the 2nd half vs the 1st half (50% in the 2nd half vs 40% in the 1st half).

What can this attributed to? Playcalling, conditioning and possibly offensive line depth.  All of these things could have contributed to this decline.  But I will leave that up to you to ponder.

I did not plan on making any monumentous findings about our running game, especially since I can't compare these stats to other teams in the league, but it appears to me the overall frequency of the "poor" rush attempt greatly contributed to the struggles the offense faced last year.

Let's hope Zane, JD, Seth and Eric can help us with this.

 

BTW, from the data, I'm guessing we were in shotgun only about 30-35% of the time. It seemed to me we did more.

Oh well, for those who like stats, hopefully this is interesting.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on MileHighReport.com. The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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