Over the last few years I have come to believe the ability to produce big plays is the most important ability for a running back. We have seen a large degree of devaluation at the running back position in the last 25 years. Teams are hesitant to invest big money or high Draft picks. There is logic behind this. Running back rotations have proven to be effective.
Additionally, a lot of a running back’s production is based on the blocking in front of him. A competent back will likely be able to pick up 4 yards if 4 yards are blocked for him.
The deeper down the field we get, the more the running back’s own ability actually matters. I have started looking at running back production after 10 yards down the field as an important metric. From that point, yardage is mostly based on the ball carrier’s ability to make defenders miss or run away from them.
Last year I noted that the top backs in the NFL tend to produce at least 300 of these “homerun” yards in a season. In that article I included receiving yardage along with rushing yardage. Today I am going to focus exclusively on rushing yards.
While looking through some statistics from 2022, I noticed that 44 running backs had at least 10 rushes that went for 11 yards or more. Breece Hall was among them.
There was one major difference between Hall and the other running backs. Hall’s 14 big runs came on just 80 carries. The average for backs on this list was 193 rushing attempts. A full 17.5% of Hall’s rushes resulted in a gain of 11 yards or more. Nobody else on the list topped that.
Furthermore, Hall produced 131 “homerun” yards (yards between the 11th and 99th gained on a play) on his 80 carries. That 1.64 average again topped the league. Only eight backs averaged even 1.2 in this category.
It’s almost impossible to overstate how dangerous of a runner Hall was before he suffered a season ending injury in a win over the Broncos.
Had he played the full season, it’s probable his numbers would have come down a bit. That is simply because even a great back would have a difficult time sustaining that level of production over the long haul. Still, these numbers should offer an idea of the homerun threat Breece Hall brings to the table.
Coming off a major injury, it seems likely the Jets will limit Hall’s touches early in the season. Even if he is healthy enough to play, it could take him time to completely recover his old form.
But if Hall gets close to full health this season, he should give the Jets one of the biggest homerun rushing threats in the entire league.