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NFL Broken Tackle Stats -- Rashard Mendenhall Was Well Above Average at Shedding Defenders in 2010

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For the first two parts of our 2010 BrokenTackles Stats series we focused on the defensive side of the ball, specifically how the defensive backs and linebackers of the Pittsburgh Steelers fared. Now let's turn our attention to the other side of the ball and look at how Rashard Mendenhall stacked up against his RB peers in terms of breaking tacklers.

Broken Tackle Totals and Rates -- RBs 2010
Player Team BT Runs Rec Touches BT %
A. Foster HOU 45 325 68 393 11.5 %
C. Johnson TEN 41 316 44 360 11.4 %
L. McCoy PHI 38 207 78 285 13.3 %
A. Bradshaw NYG 38 275 48 323 11.8 %
M. Turner ATL 38 334 12 346 11.0 %
D. McFadden OAK 37 223 47 270 13.7 %
M. Lynch SEA 36 201 22 223 16.1 %
A. Peterson MIN 35 284 36 320 10.9 %
P. Hillis CLE 35 270 61 331 10.6 %
F. Jackson BUF 34 222 31 253 13.4 %
L. Blount TAM 33 201 5 206 16.0 %
R. Mendenhall PIT 33 324 23 347 9.5 %
F. Jones DAL 30 184 49 233 12.9 %
M. Jones-Drew JAC 30 300 34 334 9.0 %
C. Benson CIN 30 321 28 349 8.6 %



Not bad, not bad. 12th out of 26 RBs with at least 20 broken tackles in 2010. A few notes on the data:

  • Considering Rashard Mendenhall ran behind an improved but still just average offensive line, his broken tackles total and percentage is even more commendable. One game in particular sticks out as one in which Mendenhall's ability to shed tacklers paid huge dividends -- the Steelers victory over the New York Jets in the AFC Championship Game.
  • Whoever the offensive coordinator of Jacksonville is should have been fired after last season. Maybe he was, I don't know. But for Maurice Jones-Drew to catch only 34 passes is criminal. The dude has an amazing set of hands and is hard to handle when he gets his low, bulky frame going on the outside. 
  • It's slightly off topic here, but every time I see that high number of carries for Mendenhall last season, I cringe and begin to worry if it won't take its toll on him and the Steelers offense in 2011.
  • Park the Cadillac Tampa Bay and roll with the Blount.
  • Interesting to see the various types of runners on the list -- there's the bruisers (Peyton Hillis; Cedric Benson), and there's the shifty, speedsters (Chris Johnson; Felix Jones) all represented. More than one way to skin a cat for sure. 

How about those backs who failed to provide their offense with extra yardage and spark by breaking tackles? Here's the ten lowest broken tackle rates per touch amongst all RBs who had a minimum of 80 touches.

Fewest Broken Tackles -- RBs 2010
Player Team BT Runs Rec Touches BT/Touch %
T. Choice DAL 2 66 17 83 2.4 %
C. Wells ARI 4 116 5 121 3.3 %
L.Tomlinson NYJ 10 220 52 272 3.7 %
J, Kuhn GB 4 84 15 99 4.0 %
B. Green-Ellis NE 10 229 12 241 4.1 %
F. Gore SF 11 203 46 249 4.4 %
C. Taylor CHI 6 112 20 132 4.5 %
S. Greene NYJ 10 185 16 201 5.0 %
T. Jones KC 13 246 14 260 5.0 %
M. Forte CHI 15 236 51 287 5.2 %




  • I find it interesting that the Jets finished the year with the fourth most team rushing yards (2374) and the eighth best yards per carry mark (4.4) despite having their two primary RBs fail to break many tackles. Could be that Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson did a nice job falling forward for an extra half yard or so when being tackled, or it could be that their offensive line played much better than people realize opening up solid lanes for those two to pick up consistently solid yardage. But it definitely wasn't a product of their two primary ball carriers ripping off big plays after shedding a tackle.
  • God, no wonder Todd Haley wants to take control of the offensive play calling duties in Kansas City. I've said it for two years now, stop 'protecting' Jamaal Charles! Thomas Jones with 260 touches!!! Insane. Jones averaged just 3.7 yards per pop with his 246 carries whereas Charles averaged with a ridiculous average of 6.4 yards per carry. I understand that Charles shouldn't be worked too hard -- like, say, 320 carries -- but to give him just 230 carries compared to Jones' 246!!! Incredible. Truly incredible. Not sure how pissed off I would be if I were a Chiefs fan. Just doing some quick calculations, I discovered Charles could have posted one of the seven 2.000+ yard seasons in NFL history if he had averaged just 4.0 yards per carry on 134 more touches. That 4.0 yards per attempt is of course pretty conservative considering he's averaging 6.0 per attempt in his first 487 career rushes. He would have still finished under the mythical '370' total carries for the year and eclipsed the 2,000 yard marker. Anyway, just truly mind boggling that Thomas Jones finishes the year with more rushing attempts. 
  • When he's on, he's beastly, but I've always thought Frank Gore was overrated. He of course is hindered by the fact that the 49ers have been wholly incompetent throwing the football during his six years by the Bay. But the lack of broken tackles and the injury history make me wonder why he's always considered a top five back for fantasy football purposes. I'd take Ray Rice over him any day.
  • Absolutely incredible that Chester Taylor has gotten paid the way he has. The Bears already have $7 million dollars invested in Taylor! $7 million for that incredible 2.4 yards per carry productivity last year. His explosiveness was long gone at the end of his time in Minnesota, yet somehow the Bears front office thought it would be a solid investment to pay a 30-plus year old reserve back close to eight-figures. Brilliant.
  • The Bears offensive line was just atrocious last year, so some of the fault rests there, but Matt Forte also makes an appearance on the list. Not good. We'll see if they fare better collectively in 2011 after retooling their line in the draft and presumably in free agency in the forthcoming weeks or months.