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Breaking Down the Numbers of New Jets Running Back Isaiah Crowell

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New York Jets v Cleveland Browns Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Jets scooped up 25-year old running back Isaiah Crowell, formerly of the Cleveland Browns, in the early stages of the free agency period. Let’s take a quick look at the good and bad of Crowell’s career from a statistical standpoint.

Positives

  • You can’t argue with his raw production. Since he entered the league, Crowell is 13th in rushing yards (3,118) and 14th in rushing touchdowns (21).
  • His yards per carry averages are respectable. League average in recent years has trended from 4.1-4.2 yards per carry, and he owns a career mark of 4.2. After falling below league average in each of his first two seasons (4.1 and 3.8), Crowell has been above and at league average in the last two seasons, respectively (4.8 and 4.1).
  • Crowell had 3 fumbles in his rookie year but has taken very good care of the football since. Over the last 3 seasons, Crowell has 3 fumbles on his 676 touches (0.44%). That’s the lowest rate among the 25 backs with at least 500 touches in that span.
  • Among those same 25 backs over the past three seasons, Crowell ranks 11th in yards per rush and 11th in yards per reception.
  • Despite looking to be a between-the-tackles runner, he is a big play threat, and this aspect of his game is what brings his overall numbers to average/above average levels. Crowell’s total of 23 runs of 20+ yards in his career is the 6th most in the league since his debut. That’s a rate of 3.1% of his carries, a tier above the league average of 2.4%.
  • Crowell has only gotten four games in his career with at least 18 carries, but he flashed dominant potential in those, averaging 137.8 yards per game on 7.3 yards per carry (with two of those games coming in 2017)
  • 64 of 64 games played in his career.

Negatives

  • Advanced stats were not on his side in 2017. PFF had him as their 47th-ranked running back, while Football Outsiders ranked him 25th of 47 qualifiers in DVOA.
  • As mentioned, Crowell is more of a downhill guy than an east-west runner. His power numbers aren’t good, though. He’s 8 for 19 over his career in converting touchdowns inside the 3 yard line; a 42.1% rate that falls short of the league average of 46.7%. In converting on 3rd or 4th down & 3 or less, he’s converted at 64.2% compared to a league average of 66.5% (though he’s improved to a 72.2% rate over the previous two seasons).
  • Football Outsiders tracks success rate (get the detailed description here, but it is basically a measure of the percentage of carries that yield a positive result). Crowell has ranked 38th, 40th, 40th, and 28th in that stat over the past few years.
  • To add to the “boom or bust” profile you’ve seen building throughout this piece, Crowell has had a very high rate of “bust” plays. It’s a slightly arbitrary measure, less scientific than FO’s Success Rate, but 341 of his 737 career carries (46.2%) have gone for 2 yards or less without resulting in a first down. That’s the 7th most carries of that variety in the league over that span. His 46.2% rate is above the league average of 41.9%, and the highest rate among the top 25 backs in total carries since 2014.
  • Not a lot of receiving production. Only one career touchdown with an average of less than two receptions per game.

The chart below compares Isaiah Crowell’s boom or bust rates over his career (since 2014) to a few other lead backs over that span, including Jets teammate Bilal Powell (criminally underused over his career).

Takeaway

Crowell is a young back who has provided an overall average body of work over a large volume early in his career. He has an above average knack for finding the big play, but also is below average in avoiding stuffs. His power game has trended towards average in recent seasons. His ball security has been good. Altogether, he’s a back who if you are willing to live with the losses and short runs will give you a healthy enough diet of big plays to balance it all out. He’s not a proven workhorse (only one career game with 20+ carries), but he has a unique tray of talents that will fit into any backfield committee. We’ll see how the Jets mix him in with Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire, if those two stick around, and if they add a rookie to the mix.

Poll

Where will Isaiah Crowell rank in rushing yards among Jets running backs in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    1st
    (437 votes)
  • 40%
    2nd
    (317 votes)
  • 2%
    3rd
    (21 votes)
  • 1%
    Lower than 3rd
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    He won’t get a carry
    (6 votes)
790 votes total Vote Now