Pro Football Focus recently put out its list of most (and least) elusive running backs in the NFL. While some of the results are obvious, some other names on both lists are rather surprising. For the Kansas City Chiefs, none of the news is actually very good.
Thomas Jones has not enjoyed a productive 2011 season and it's clear (or it should be) that this is his last season for the Chiefs (and perhaps in the NFL). There's no doubting his greatness over the last several years and he will go down in NFL history as one of the most unheralded backs of his generation. Yet in a season where the Chiefs could have used a boost from the veteran in the absence of Jamaal Charles, Jones has taken a step backward with 70 carries for 204 yards for a 2.9 average. Those are just above pre-release-Larry-Johnson numbers.
"At the ugly end of the scale, Thomas Jones is saved from last place in yards per carry after contact by Jacksonville’s Deji Karim," writes PFF's Sam Monson. "Karim is averaging just 1.45 yards per carry after contact, a fraction worse than Jones’ 1.46. Karim has forced four missed tackles to Jones’ two so he does wind up with a better overall Elusive Rating. Jones finds himself spared from his regular spot as ‘least elusive back in football’ by Cadillac Williams. Though Jones is plumbing new depths with a rating of 6.0, Cadillac is outdoing that with a rating of just 3.2, having failed to force a single missed tackle on 60 attempts rushing the ball and forcing just a single missed tackle from his 14 receptions."
Just a bit higher on the list is a surprising name: Dexter McCluster. The Chiefs drafted the Ole Miss back in the second round in 2010 for his ability to break a game open with his athletiicsm, yet PFF has him listed among the least elusive backs in the NFL this season.
Jonathan Stewart, Fred Jackson and Darren Sproles are listed as the top three elusive backs in the NFL in 2011.