Earlier this week I wrote this column stating the Dolphins intentions of remaining a run-first team and telling you how intriguing that is, considering the Dolphins don't have any proven starting caliber running backs on the roster.
Yes, the club can always re-sign Ricky Williams or Ronnie Brown or both. But I wrote that I wouldn't count on either being back.
This despite the fact coach Tony Sparano made very clear during his meeting with the media that he had no problems with the way Brown and Williams played last year. He actually said they played well.
Of course, I've reminded you time and again not to get too caught up in what the Dolphins say as much as what they do. If Williams and Brown played so well, how come the club opted not to re-sign either one before the labor agreement fell off the cliff into an abyss of pending legal challenges?
Well, the able folks at ProFootballFocus.com have crunched the numbers and they'll be happy to tell you why neither Williams nor Brown were priorities -- their numbers confirm what your eyes should have been telling you:
Neither Williams nor Brown were very good at gaining yardage on their own last season. Neither was good at breaking tackles or running away from tackles.
ProFootballFocus refers to this as its elusive rating. It measures a back's ability and performance independent of the blocking in front of him. This rating is a great equalizer in that it removes the advantages running backs that play behind great offensive lines have over those who do not.
PFF further states their elusive rating filters out coaching and playcalling, as well as the other 10 guys on the offense.
So where did Brown and Williams rate in 2010?
Bottom 20 of 58 rated backs.
Brown rated No. 48 of 58 with an elusive rating of 20.8. Keep in mind Ladell Betts had the worst elusive rating, according to PFF.com, with a 3.1. LeGarrette Blount led PFF's elusive ratings at 89.8.
Brown, the website said, gained 58.6 percent of his yards after contact or 2.2 yards per carry. That's bottom-third ordinary. Blount gained over 73 percent of his yards after contact and Oakland's Darren McFadden averaged 3.5 yards after contact.
For perspective, understand that Adrian Peterson gained 877 of his 1,298 after contact last season. Brown gained a total of 734 yards.
Ricky Williams fared better. But not much.
He ranked 40th of 58 backs, with an elusive rating of 26.7. He was in the same company with backs such as Willis McGahee and Michael Bush.
Williams averaged 2.5 yards per carry after contact, according to PFF. He had 404 yards after contact for the season -- meaning 60 percent of his yards came after contact.
The stats would suggest that if the Dolphins want to bring back the more effective back from last year, it would be Williams. The problem is no one can predict if Williams, who turns 34 in May, will simply fall of the table with wear because of his age or continue to provide semi-acceptable play.
The elusive rating article doesn't mention Brown or Williams except for one instance but it is interesting.
One more thing: DeAngelo Williams, the back many Dolphins fans are eyeing because he's scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent is not on the 2010 report because he was injured much of the season. Williams had an elusive rating of 42.61 in 2009, which was 15th best in the NFL.
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