Before Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy embarks on another season as the team's workhorse running back, let's review his 2016 season from an advanced stats perspective and pinpoint what those numbers tell us.
First the standard stats. McCoy averaged a career-high 5.4 yards per carry a season ago and found the end zone on the ground 13 times. He caught 50 passes, the most receptions he had since 2013, but averaged just 7.1 yards per catch, the fourth-lowest average of his career.
McCoy has run in a variety of different blocking schemes in the NFL, and will make the transition to a scheme that almost exclusively uses zone-blocking run plays.
Every week throughout the season, we will review the past game for McCoy with an advance stats angle.
What the advanced stats say
Among the 27 running backs who had 150-plus carries in 2016, McCoy finished sixth in Pro Football Focus' "Elusive Rating," which measures exactly what you would think – a running back's elusiveness.
From PFF: "Elusive rating is a PFF Signature Stat created to help determine a running back’s success beyond the point of being helped by his blockers. It takes into account not only missed tackles forced by the player, but also how much extra yardage is gained after contact on run plays."
The formula for Elusive Rating is (missed tackles forced) / (carries + receptions) x (yards after contact per attempt * 100)
Among those same 27 running backs, McCoy forced the third-most missed tackles (61). Only David Johnson (71) and Jay Ajayi (63) forced more, but they had 89 and three more touches than McCoy, respectively.
Though much younger, from 2009 to 2012, McCoy was successful running in Andy Reid's west coast offense that used a zone-blocking scheme similar to the one the Bills will employ this season.
These are his season averages during that four-year stretch:
- 209 carries
- 264 touches
- 4.6 yards per carry
- 5.16 yards per touch
- 1,363 yards from scrimmage
- 8 rushing touchdowns, 10 total touchdowns
It's worth noting that Anthony Lynn, who coordinated the Bills' offense for 14 games last year, is a Mike Shanahan disciple, just like Buffalo's current offensive coordinator Rick Dennison.
Per PFF, 127 of the Bills' rushes last season were either inside or outside zone plays, the staples of Dennison's ground attack. Buffalo led the league with a yards-per-carry average of 5.38 on inside zone runs and averaged 5.71 yards per carry on outside zone runs, also the top figure in football.
McCoy has proven to be a running back capable of production in a variety of offenses, and he had plenty of success in a zone-blocking scheme in Philadelphia, which bodes well for his 2017 season in Buffalo.
(Bills stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus.)