Thomas Rawls: The NFL's top big play threat RB
Thomas Rawls is more than just an above-average running back. He may be the NFL’s most dangerous rushing threat period.
Ever since Russell Wilson came on board the Seahawks offense has excelled at creating explosive plays (20+ yards passing or 15+ yards rushing on a single play.) Despite struggling in pass protection and on third downs, Seattle has become one of the league’s most efficient units because they can break off so many yards at once.
Carving up the field with intermediate and deep passes is essential to winning in today’s NFL, but explosive runs are a critical element as well. There’s no better way to break the will of a defense and Thomas Rawls did it better than anyone last year.
Last season Rawls averaged 5.65 yards per carry, which led the NFL. That number was boosted in large part by his big play ability, which is roughly twice as good as the league average.
Chase Stuart of Football Perspective explains.
“Thomas Rawls stands as excellent here… He gained 15+ yards on 15 of his 147 runs, or 10% of the time. That’s insane, and 5% above league average. But he wasn’t just a big play threat… He was consistent gaining yards: 88% of his carries went for positive yards, with 80% of those (compared to 68% for the average runner) gaining at least two yards.”
Stuart’s article included a heat map that showed how well each starting running back did gaining one yard, two yards, three yards, and so on. Thomas Rawls was one of only three backs (Le’Veon Bell and Darren McFadden being the others) who scored positively in every single category.
It’s an admittedly small sample, but the more we learn about Rawls’ 2015 campaign the more he looks like a real star.
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