April 13, 2009
Everyone talks about it. Running backs, quarterbacks, baseball players, basketball players, golfers, runners, swimmers, dart throwers, Xbox 360 players, seamstresses, Gil Thelander ... across all occupations and activities, people talk about getting into a rhythm. Data entry professionals, I know you do.
But this isn't a blog about data enterers, it's about the NFL. And when an NFL running back isn't getting the number of carries he wants, he loves to complain that he didn't get a chance to "get into a rhythm." Bill Barnwell wondered last week on Football Outsiders if such a rhythm even existed, and if a running back could get in it by getting repeated carries.
The answer? Nope. With each consecutive carry a running back gets, his DVOA tends to drop. It drops so quickly and spectacularly, in fact, that by the time the fourth carry in a row rolls around, you might as well hand the ball to a rusted out refrigerator. Or Rudi Johnson.
Of course, that's only one of the possible ways to think about rhythm. It might not be just consecutive carries, but a certain number of carries per quarter, or per game, or every so often in a game, or carries that are uninterrupted by subbing in another running back. I'd guess that all running backs had different ideas about what they need to get into a rhythm.
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