Comparing Jordan Howard to the best rushers in the NFL

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 18: Jordan Howard
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 18: Jordan Howard /

How does Jordan Howard fare against the best backs in the league with a certain number of people in the box?

Thanks to, Marcus Mosher, and Warren Sharp, a new analytic has been created to look at an individual running backs yard per attempt against a certain number of people in the box. Now, the old “he faces a stacked box or he would have better stats” excuse can be proven true or false.

With the Bears having rookie Jordan Howard finish second in the NFL in rushing yards, it feels like a great time to put this tool to use and compare Howard to the best runners in the NFL. It turns out, Jordan Howard came away extremely consistent and may have another point as to why he could be the best running back in the NFL next season. The rankings discussed will be how Jordan Howard stacks up to the 2016 top ten rushers. The other nine include Ezekiel Elliott, DeMarco Murray, Lamar Miller, Lesean McCoy, LeGarrette Blount, David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, Jay Ajayi and Devonta Freeman.

Three through Five in the box

Of the ten backs, only LeSean McCoy and Lamar Miller rushed against a three man box. McCoy averaged 22 yards per carry on a rush

Only Freeman, Howard, McCoy and David Johnson faced a four-man box. On two carries Howard ran better than Freeman but a bit lower than Johnson and McCoy.

Lamar Miller did not face a five-man box. Most of these snaps were as limited as the three and four men in the box snaps. Still, Howard’s four carries at 7.3 yards per rush clip led the ten.

Six in the box

Six through eight is where the bulk of most players carries come. Jordan Howard led the ten against six-man boxes with 6.1 yards per carry. The next closest was Blount at 5.8 yards per clip. Devonta Freeman averaged just four yards per carry in these situations.

Seven in the box

Howard led the ten with seven men in the box as well, putting up 6.1 yards per carry. Blount was close behind with six in the box but finished dead last of the ten with 3.8 yards per carry against the seven-man front. LeSean McCoy finished right behind Howard averaging six yards per carry.

Eight in the box

Eight is the big outlier for Howard. On 55 carries Howard averaged just three yards per carry. Devonta Freeman and LeSean McCoy led the group in this situation with Freeman racking up 6.4 yards per carry on 68 attempts.

Next: Comparing Leonard Floyd

Nine through Eleven in the box

Although it is on just six carries, Howard finished third with 3.7 yards per carry. However, Devonta Freeman had 11 carries with nine in the box and racked up 7.6 yards per carry.

Howard had two carries for one yard against a 10-man box and six carries for eight yards against 11 men in the box. He ranked seventh amongst the group against ten but led the group against 11 men in the box.

The fact of the matter is that Howard had 177 carries against a six and seven man box and he led the league in yards per carry in each situation. He is going to have to improve with those eight men boxes, but that could also have to do with some shifting that went on at the guard position last season.

Either way, it is scary what to think Howard could be if the team can improve those 55 carries against an eight-man box.