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20 Aug 2013

FO 10th Anniversary: Worst Running Backs

by Danny Tuccitto

Welcome back for the latest installment of our 10th anniversary series on DVOA and DYAR records. If you're interested in the topics we've covered so far, here they are:

Today, we're moving on to the worst running back stats since 1991. I think that, when all is said and done, you'll come away from this piece believing one or more of the following three things:

  • Football Outsiders is not biased in favor of the New England Patriots.
  • Fullbacks and large running backs make for terrible receivers.
  • Really good running backs have had really bad performances.

And of course, before we begin, please take a guess as to which running back easily had the least valuable career since 1991. Here are a few hints. He played alongside one of our top 22 backs ever (so far). He played for four teams; on average, those teams acquired one of our top 10 backs within three years of his departure.

Leading off, below are the least efficient seasons since 1991 according to rush DVOA:

Worst Rush DVOA, Season, 1991-2012
(min. 100 rushes)
Year Player Team Runs Yards TD DVOA
2008 Chris Perry CIN 103 267 2 -41.8%
2002 Jonathan Wells HOU 197 536 3 -40.1%
1998 Lamar Smith NO 138 453 1 -36.3%
1992 Jon Vaughn NE 113 454 1 -35.1%
1991 Heath Sherman PHI 106 279 0 -35.1%
2005 Marcel Shipp ARI 157 459 0 -33.4%
2009 Steve Slaton HOU 131 448 3 -32.9%
2009 Darren McFadden OAK 104 366 1 -32.7%
1996 Tyrone Wheatley NYG 112 392 1 -32.5%
2012 Rashad Jennings JAC 101 285 2 -31.8%
Worst Rush DVOA, Season, 1991-2012
(min. 200 rushes)
Year Player Team Runs Yards TD DVOA
1993 Harold Green CIN 215 589 0 -29.5%
2001 Lamar Smith MIA 313 968 6 -26.8%
2012 Darren McFadden OAK 214 716 2 -26.7%
2001 Eddie George TEN 315 940 5 -25.0%
1993 Reggie Cobb TB 221 658 3 -23.0%
2005 Jamal Lewis BAL 270 903 3 -21.8%
1991 Leonard Russell NE 266 959 5 -21.8%
2001 Maurice Smith ATL 237 760 5 -21.5%
2008 Justin Fargas OAK 219 841 1 -20.3%
2002 William Green CLE 243 889 6 -20.1%

The past five years have been good to Lamar Smith. Back when Aaron Schatz presented worst running back DVOAs for FO's fifth anniversary in August 2008, Smith held the record regardless of carry minimum. Since then, Chris Perry broke the 100-carry record four months after Aaron's piece, Harold Green broke the 200-carry record two years later when we added 1993, and Jonathan Wells leapfrogged him when we came out with the latest iteration of DVOA.

Nevertheless, that shouldn't stop us from standing agape at the five years that went far worse for Smith. Each year from 1998 to 2002, he finished with a negative DVOA, ranking 38th or worse three times. In 1999, he only had 60 run plays, but his -14.6% DVOA ranked 37th out of 52 non-qualifiers. Even at the postseason walk-off zenith of his career, he still could only muster -0.7% DVOA in 2000 (ranked 17th). It's not hyperbolic to say that, for much of his time in Miami (especially during home games early in the season) Smith was the embodiment of "three yards and a cloud of dust."

One other observation I'll make about these tables is that, although I'm not shocked to see a Bengals running back at No. 1 on both lists, I am shocked that it's two different backs and more so that neither of them is named Ki-Jana Carter. (His only 100-carry season was in 1997, and he finished 25th with -3.2% DVOA.)

Historical ignominy according to rush DYAR and receiving DYAR is displayed below for all to see:

Worst Rush DYAR, Season, 1991-2012
(min. 100 Rushes)
Year Player Team Runs Yards TD DYAR
2002 Jonathan Wells HOU 197 536 3 -241
2001 Lamar Smith MIA 313 968 6 -233
2001 Eddie George TEN 315 940 5 -199
1993 Harold Green CIN 215 589 0 -191
2005 Marcel Shipp ARI 157 459 0 -166
2012 Darren McFadden OAK 214 716 2 -153
1991 Leonard Russell NE 266 959 5 -151
2008 Chris Perry CIN 103 267 2 -149
2005 Jamal Lewis BAL 270 903 3 -143
1998 Lamar Smith NO 138 453 1 -141
Worst Receiving DYAR, Season, 1991-2012
(min. 25 Passes)
Year Player Team Recs Yards TD DYAR
1992 Dave Meggett NYG 38 229 2 -114
2010 Tim Hightower ARI 21 136 0 -114
1997 Adrian Murrell NYJ 27 106 0 -104
1995 Rodney Thomas HOIL 39 204 2 -101
1996 Adrian Murrell NYJ 17 81 1 -98
1995 Dave Meggett NE 52 334 0 -91
1999 Aaron Craver NO 19 154 0 -89
2006 Mack Strong SEA 29 159 0 -84
2012 Darren McFadden OAK 44 259 1 -82
1991 Gaston Green DEN 13 78 0 -81

Dave Meggett: Scrappy return man, Super Bowl champion, Tunamandias favorite, owner of two of the least valuable receiving seasons by a running back ever (so far). To be fair, 1992 and 1995 were by far Meggett's worst two seasons catching the football; his other eight produced 249 DYAR. And really, Meggett's twin billing here seems more like a symptom of Jeff Hostetler and young Drew Bledsoe, both of whom barely completed 50 percent of their passes during the seasons in question. As with most of the backs on the list, Meggett got dinged for having a bad catch rate (58 percent in 1992, 62 percent in 1995) over a large volume of targets (65 and 84).

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With 94 more runs in 2002 than what Perry had in 2008, Wells moves into worst place when we move from DVOA to DYAR. Astute observers may recall that, when we presented worst quarterbacks last week, David Carr had the least valuable passing season ever (so far). Apparently, despite Rivers McCown's best efforts since joining the staff, Football Outsiders is still not biased in favor of the Houston Texans.

Rivers note: I actually began creating fantasy football leagues based on the basic tenets of the Loser League in the late 2000's. Those leagues were named the "Jonathan Wells Memorial League." It's true.

The running back who really caught my eye in these tables is Darren McFadden, whose 2012 season was in the all-time bottom 10 for both rushing value and receiving value. And with that statement, you're probably wondering how that season ranks in total DYAR. It turns out, McFadden's -235 total DYAR last year was the worst ever (so far) by a running back who had at least 100 runs and 25 targets. Of course, everyone deserves a mulligan or two in life, so what really surprised me is that 2012 was by no means an isolated occurrence: In five years, McFadden's finished 38th or worse in run DYAR three times. In the context of a career that also includes two top-20 finishes, McFadden seems to be this era's boom-or-bust running back.

And now, the 10 worst single-game performances since 1991 (box score linked in the "Week" column, asterisk means the team won):

Worst Total DYAR, Game, 1991-2012
Year Week Player Team Runs Run
Recs Rec
1998 5 Ricky Watters SEA 22 59 0 2 -6 0 -89
2001 17 Ricky Williams NO 11 33 0 5 -8 0 -89
1998 9* Curtis Martin NYJ 30 42 0 3 14 0 -87
1999 17 Ricky Williams NO 14 7 0 7 5 0 -84
1993 6* Neal Anderson CHI 20 29 0 3 0 0 -82
1999 10* Mike Alstott TB 16 33 0 1 7 0 -77
1991 13 Neal Anderson CHI 21 43 0 6 22 0 -74
2010 12* Steven Jackson STL 29 72 0 3 -6 0 -74
1995 7 Harvey Williams OAK 6 8 0 6 9 0 -74
2002 17* Travis Henry BUF 30 81 0 2 0 0 -74

I'm starting to sense a trend here: Every table has a running back or two who went to that dark, dark place more than once. In this case, both backs were selected in the first round by none other than the Chicago Chin. Before Ricky Williams replaced Lamar Smith in Miami, he replaced Smith in New Orleans; the former ended up being far more successful than the latter. Twice in three years with the Saints, he finished a season with one of the four worst games ever (so far). That Week 17 game in 1999, one of only 12 since the AFL-NFL merger to "feature" a running back that averaged 0.5 yards or less per carry on at least 14 carries, finished his Super Coach's career for good. Two years later, Williams' said goodbye to New Orleans by posting the fewest receiving yards in a five-catch game since the merger.

Meanwhile, back before Williams ended the Chicago Chin's second head-coaching gig, Neal Anderson ended his first. To this day, Anderson owns two of the lowest 84 rushing yardage totals in a game with 20 or more carries; the one in the table from 1993 is the current record-holder. Incidentally, the record for fewest yards in a 30-carry game belongs to another pupil of a Super Coach. That would be Curtis Martin, the second Tunamandias favorite of this piece, one of the top 22 backs of the past 22 years, and most notably a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Before moving onto the career lists, beyond the simple fact that several otherwise above-average running backs have posted games or seasons well below replacement level, I think these high-carry games are even more interesting. In the comments section of "Best Running Backs," there was some discussion of how DYAR has a hard time valuing clock-killing runs in the waning minutes of victories. I don't know that the games by Martin, Steven Jackson, and Travis Henry necessarily prove that to be true, but they're perhaps three data points in that direction.

Below are the worst careers since 1991 according to rush DYAR and receiving DYAR (asterisk means the running back's still active):

Worst Rush DYAR, Career
(Debuted 1991 or Later)
Player Years DYAR
Leonard Russell 6 -243
William Green 4 -198
Jonathan Wells 4 -193
Darnell Autry 2 -183
Nick Goings 7 -177
DeShaun Foster 6 -161
Troy Davis 3 -149
Lamar Smith 10 -141
Marcel Shipp 5 -140
Leroy Thompson 6 -137
Player Years DYAR
Jerald Moore 4 -135
Maurice Smith 2 -135
James Joseph 4 -132
LeShon Johnson 5 -130
Lamont Warren 8 -120
Daniel Thomas 2* -119
Montario Hardesty 2* -118
Amos Zereoue 7 -117
Earnest Hunter 2 -115
Lamar Gordon 5 -110
Chris Perry 4 -104
Quentin Griffin 2 -103
Worst Receiving DYAR, Career
(Debuted 1991 or Later)
Player Years DYAR
Adrian Murrell 9 -287
Leonard Russell 6 -173
Lorenzo Neal 16 -164
Tatum Bell 5 -141
Terrelle Smith 10 -112
Donnell Bennett 8 -104
Chris Rainey 1* -102
Clif Groce 4 -99
William Green 4 -97
Jason McKie 7 -94
Player Years DYAR
Chris Hetherington 9 -88
Lousaka Polite 7 -85
Lendale White 4 -84
LeGarrette Blount 3* -80
Troy Hambrick 5 -79
Cecil Martin 4 -77
Karim Abdul-Jabbar 5 -72
Robert Thomas 4 -71
Jon Vaughn 4 -71
Michael Wiley 3 -69
Ray Zellars 4 -68
Ki-Jana Carter 7 68

William Green doesn't just rank near the top of worst career rush DYARs; he ranks near the top of most ironic last names. As a rookie in 2002, he finished second to last with -106 rush DYAR; only Wells' aforementioned disaster was worse. The following season, his career was ascending to replacement level (-21 DYAR through seven games) before an arrest for DUI and marijuana possession made him a modern-day Sysiphus for his remaining two years in the league. (No word on whether the exchange went, "Are you a cop? No, I'm a plant.") Mr. Green tried to come back from suspension, but got stabbed by his fiancée. He then regained his starting job the following year, but got ejected from a Browns-Steelers match during pregame warmups, and knocked up his mistress. At that point, life probably had him down, so he just wanted to focus on football, but he got hurt in 2006, stayed hurt, and ended up unemployed by the end of the preseason.

Over on the receiving side of things, you will probably remember Adrian Murrell from two sections ago, where he owned two of the worst five seasons since 1991. It turns out that, among running backs who debuted after 1990, Murrell has four of the worst 20 seasons according to receiving DYAR; no other back shows up even twice. (Dave Meggett's career started in 1989.)

The other thing you'll notice is how many of the worst receiving careers were "accomplished" by the over-30 BMI crowd. By my count, five are/were gargantuan running backs (Leonard Russell, Donnell Bennett, LenDale White, LeGarrette Blount, and Troy Hambrick), while nine were bona-fide fullbacks (Neal, Groce, Smith, McKie, Hetherington, Polite, Martin, Thomas, Zellars). I guess the obvious conclusion here is "large men not good in space," but the question then becomes, "Why did these 14 backs average 102 targets over the course of their careers?" At least Jerome Bettis got 283 passes thrown his way because he was an above-replacement level receiver (55 receiving DYAR). Continuing to feed the ball to this group seems a bit odd from a play-calling perspective. On the other hand, it's likely that many of their targets were of the broken play, dumpoff variety, so perhaps their numbers weren't being called to begin with. I'm interested to hear your thoughts.

Finally, below are the worst career total DYARs according to a simple sum, a weighted sum, and an average of the back's six best seasons (asterisk means the running back's still active):

Worst Total DYAR, Career
(Debuted 1991 or Later)
Player Years DYAR
Leonard Russell 6 -416
William Green 4 -296
Adrian Murrell 9 -203
Troy Davis 3 -196
Chris Perry 4 -167
Jon Vaughn 4 -163
Terrelle Smith 10 -137
Jeremi Johnson 6 -132
Glen Coffee 1 -130
Ray Zellars 4 -121
Player Years DYAR
Chris Hetherington 9 -121
Jerald Moore 4 -118
J.R. Redmond 5 -116
Darnell Autry 2 -114
Leeland McElroy 2 -113
Tyrone Montgomery 2 -107
Dee Brown 3 -105
DeShaun Foster 6 -105
George Jones 3 -102
Vaughn Dunbar 3 -102
Sherman Williams 5 -102
Earnest Hunter 2 -102
Worst Total DYAR, Weighted Career
(Debuted 1991 or Later)
Player Years DYAR
Leonard Russell 6 -320
William Green 4 -262
Troy Davis 3 -186
Chris Perry 4 -136
Jon Vaughn 4 -134
Glen Coffee 1 -130
Darnell Autry 2 -109
Leeland McElroy 2 -109
Tyrone Montgomery 2 -103
Jerald Moore 4 -102
Player Years DYAR
Jeremi Johnson 6 -101
Ray Zellars 4 -100
Earnest Hunter 2 -99
J.R. Redmond 5 -95
Deji Karim 2* -95
George Jones 3 -95
Dee Brown 3 -94
Vaughn Dunbar 3 -94
Sherman Williams 5 -92
Montario Hardesty 2* -89
Adrian Murrell 9 -88
Ryan Williams 1* -85
Worst Total DYAR, Six-Year Average
(Debuted 1991 or Later)
Player Years DYAR
Leonard Russell 6 -69
William Green 4 -49
Troy Davis 3 -33
Chris Perry 4 -28
Jon Vaughn 4 -27
Jeremi Johnson 6 -22
Glen Coffee 1 -22
Ray Zellars 4 -20
Jerald Moore 4 -118
J.R. Redmond 5 -19
Player Years DYAR
Darnell Autry 2 -19
Leeland McElroy 2 -19
Tyrone Montgomery 2 -18
Dee Brown 3 -18
DeShaun Foster 6 -17
George Jones 3 -17
Vaughn Dunbar 3 -17
Sherman Williams 5 -17
Earnest Hunter 2 -17
Cecil Martin 4 -17
Deji Karim 2* -16
Jonathan Wells 4 -16

And now, the exciting climax of today's schadenfreude: Former New England Patriots running back Leonard Russell had the least valuable career of the past 22 years, and it's not even close. For all his troubles, even William Green wasn't Russell-level bad. Going back to our earlier trivia question, Russell was drafted 14th overall by the Patriots in 1991, and stuck around just long enough to get jettisoned by Tunamandias after his first season as head coach; within two years, New England had Curtis Martin. After his release, Russell signed with Denver, where he started 14 games in 1994 before joining the Rams the subsequent season; the Broncos drafted Terrell Davis in 1995. In St. Louis, he was the No. 2 running back during Bettis' last year there; Marshall Faulk arrived a few years later. Russell's last season in the NFL was with San Diego in 1996. As if having made a round trip through the nine circles of hell wasn't enough, he joined the Chargers to replace Natrone Means, who himself had replaced Marion Butts as San Diego's starter when Butts left to -- wait for it -- replace Russell in New England.

In six NFL seasons, Russell never averaged higher than 3.6 yards per carry, with the high point coming in his last season with New England. He ran for 1,088 yards on exactly 300 carries, which ranks as the 11th-lowest total since the merger among 300-carry seasons. Russell's 40 total DYAR that year was also the best of his career, but it wasn't nearly enough to overcome -198 in 1991, -131 in 1992, and -136 in 1995.

At this point, I would write about the likelihood that Russell's records will ever be broken, but I'd rather never need to know for whom the bell tolls. "Football Outsiders is biased in favor of the New England Patriots," it tolls for thee.

Posted by: Danny Tuccitto on 20 Aug 2013

56 comments, Last at 24 Aug 2013, 5:35am by RyeLeaf


by horn :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 10:27am

I remember Aaron Craver, but not Aaron Carver.

by Guido Merkens :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 11:52am

Was he the guy who carved up Aaron Craver?

by Parker (the first one) (not verified) :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 3:55pm

Pretty sure he was the detective that let Randy Wagstaff go back to the group home.

by wiesengrund :: Thu, 08/22/2013 - 9:18am

Ah, the son of Cheese. Good times, good times.

by Travis :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 10:41am

It doesn't excuse the fumbles, but Watters' and Martin's games were both played in heavy rain on a grass field in Kansas City just four weeks apart. (Conditions were so bad for Seahawks-Chiefs that the game was suspended for 54 minutes midway through the second quarter.) The regular standards for what an average running back should do probably don't apply to games played in mud and standing water.

by FrenchEagles :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 10:39am

Again a ranking where you find a way to have a Patriot as #1 overall...

by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 10:57am

This is apropos of nothing, and I know Chicago defense was great that year, but can I see the numbers for Edgerrin James' "We let 'Em off the hook!" game? In raw YAR that has to be a champ.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 11:46am

In terms of YAR, it was

-81 rush YAR, 2nd-worst.
-79 total YAR, 9th-worst.

After the D adjustment, it improved to

-67 rush DYAR, 6th-worst
-63 total DYAR, 31st-worst.

by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 6:15pm


As a Colts fan rooting for Edge in his new home, that whole year was painful. that game was terrifying.

by Thok :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 11:17am

That -130 for Glen Coffee in one season seems like a lot, given that he essentially played in 3 games.

I mean, yes, he played behind one of the worst offensive lines in recent memory, had a clueless coach, experienced the full Shaun Hill experience, and wasn't actually good. But that still seems like a lot of negative DYAR.

by CBPodge :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 11:39am

He was impressively bad it seems. Third last in Rushing DVOA for all players with more than 20 rushes (he had 83, the two that beat him had 22 and 21) and 6th last on receiving DVOA for everyone with 10 or more catches (he had 18, three of the people below him had 10 or 11, although the bottom two had 18 and 22).

I think its all the more impressive that he had these 101 plays and didn't have a single fumble. Still, those 101 plays only gained 302 yards, which ain't great.

Basically, not only was he good at accumulating negative DYAR, he was also extremely efficient at it. I imagine being simply bad must not have been enough - he must have taken advantage of failing at favourable game situations (like failing on 3rd-and-1).

Frank Gore, by the way, that year had 0.0% receiving DVOA and 2.9% rushing DVOA.

by Lance :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 11:30am

"At this point, I would write about the likelihood that Russell's records will ever be broken, but I'd rather never need to know for whom the bell tolls. "Football Outsiders is biased in favor of the New England Patriots," it tolls for thee."

Now it's not even Schatz who's hyper-sensitive!!

by CBPodge :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 11:31am

The words "DeShaun Foster" only appear three times in this article. Something is badly wrong.

by Guido Merkens :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 11:53am

He was a boom-and-bust RB. Most of the guys on this list were bust-and-bust RBs.

by Shattenjager :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 11:48am

I have to admit that "Clue" (Jonathan Lynn, USA 1985) would have been among the last things that I ever would have expected to be referenced in a Football Outsiders article.

by Guido Merkens :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 11:54am

In this age of distributed RB workloads and higher YPC averages, I suspect that we'll never again see a RB get 300+ carries without breaking 1000 yards, as we saw twice in 2001.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 12:03pm

All of the box score links, except the very first one, have an extra " at the end of the link causing them to break when clicked.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 12:09pm

Fixed. Thanks for the heads up.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 12:28pm

The BMI of the average starting NFL RB has been 30+ since 1992, and has rounded to 30 since 1987. This is mostly because they've gotten shorter since the 1960s.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 12:31pm

What was wrong w/ Vaughn and Fargas? Those don't seem like terrible averages, although there's almost no TDs there.

by ChrisS (not verified) :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 12:36pm

As a casual U of M fan I noticed that three (Vaughn, Perry, Wheatley) of the ten worse in the 100 min category played college ball for the Wolverines. Go Blue

by nat :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 12:43pm

Leonard Russell was 1991 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.

His DYAR was dead last among RBs running at least 100 times. My guess is that DYAR has it right. I wonder who he beat out for Offensive ROY.

by Rhombus (not verified) :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 1:22pm

Well, rookie quarterbacks that season combined for a 2-8 record, the most successful of whom was Neil O'Donnell, going 2-6 with 30 sacks and a 163-yard average.

Leonard was not the best rookie, but certainly the most impactful. He was one of the very few consistent starters, and led the league in yards from scrimmage among rookies.

For what its worth, looking over the stats Ricky Ervins seems so have been the most deserving of the award in 1991. He did not start a game, but played in 15, had a 4.7 rushing average on 145 carries and 4 touchdowns. He was also returning kicks by the end of the season.

However, there were very few standouts, and of the marginal standouts only Terry Allen seems to have made a truly productive career.

by Guido Merkens :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 1:31pm

1991 was a bad year for rookies. The two 1991 offensive draftees who had the most impressive careers were Brett Favre and Ricky Watters, but neither played any significant amount in the 1991 season. Here is a list of every single rookie who gained more than 500 yards from scrimmage in the 1991 season (no rookie QBs got significant playing time):

Mike Pritchard (Falcons WR): 624 yards, 2 TDs
Lawrence Dawsey (Bucs WR): 827 yards, 4 TDs
Ricky Ervins (Redskins RB): 861 yards, 4 TDs
Fred McAfee (Saints RB): 502 yards, 2 TDs

Russell had 1040 yards from scrimmage and 4 TDs, sadly leading the entire rookie class in both categories. Particularly considering the lack of advanced stats at the time, it's not surprising that he got it.

by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 1:35pm

Turns out that was a crappy year for rookies, at least at the fantasy positions. At QB, you've got half a season (and two wins) from Neil O'Donnell. At RB, you've got Russell, and nobody else who led his team in rushing. (Harvey Williams was actually third on the Chiefs.) The leading rookie WR was Lawrence Dawsey, who caught 55 passes for 818 yards (he never had that many yards again) for Tampa Bay.


by Scott Kacsmar :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 3:23pm

O'Donnell's rookie season was technically 1990, so he doesn't even count. Makes 1991 rookies look worse.

by Travis :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 3:54pm

Which makes 1991's rookie QB class:

Brad Goebel (undrafted): 2 starts, 30 of 56, 267 yards, 0 TD, 6 int
Donald Hollas: 1 start, 32 of 55, 310 yards, 1 TD, 4 int
Todd Marinovich: 1 start, 23 of 40, 243 yards, 3 TD, 0 int (plus 1 playoff start, 12 of 23, 140 yards, 0 TD, 4 int)
Dan McGwire: 3 of 7, 27 yards, 0 TD, 1 int
Bill Musgrave: 4 of 5, 33 yards, 1 TD, 0 int
Brett Favre: 0 of 4, 0 yards, 0 TD, 2 int
Browning Nagle: 1 of 2, 10 yards

by Dean :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 4:20pm

I wonder how the 2013 class will fare in comparison? At least '91 had Lord Favre. Otherwise, I wouldn't be at all surprised if this years crop reaches that depth.

by Travis :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 2:44pm

1991 Offensive Rookie of the Year voting:

Leonard Russell, 34 votes
Ricky Ervins, 14
Mike Pritchard, 12
Lawrence Dawsey, 11
Pat Harlow, 4
Ed King, 3
Harvey Williams, 3
John Kasay, 1

by nat :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 3:47pm

Cool. I couldn't find that in a quick search.

From what everyone is saying, I can see that DYAR and AP were both right. I thought it might be that. Thanks.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 4:02pm

1991 rookie QBs combined for 5 TD, 13 INT and 890 passing yards. Since 1970, only the 2000 rookie class produced fewer passing yards (720).

by Danny Tuccitto :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 4:26pm

What about NY/A or ANY/A?

by Scott Kacsmar :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 5:36pm

I can't seem to find the Excel file on rookie QBs, but I'm sure some of those brutal passing seasons in the 70s would rank lower there.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 8:31pm

So are we all in agreement that Russell probably wouldn't have the career total DYAR record (so far) without a) having such good standard stats as a rookie, and b) a lack of advanced stats in existence to provide a counterpoint to giving him over 1,000 more touches?

by Jerry :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 3:32am

You're assuming that everyone now pays at least some attention to advanced stats, which isn't necessarily the case.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 9:24am

Maybe. None of the teams he was on could rush well -- even the non-Russell backs. He played on a team with one of Bettis' worst seasons, too.

Let's get into really adjusted stats -- what were his ALY stats like? Maybe he just unlucked into a series of really poor offensive lines.

by Bobman :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 2:14pm

Lamar Smith, you say? The same immortal who ran roughshod for 200+ yards over the Colts in a playoff game? (In another playoff game that, cough, "Manning lost"). That more than makes up for the fact that there are so few Colt names up there.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 3:16pm

My pick for worst RB was Heath Evans, but I think I let "worst football analyst" seep into my reasoning.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 4:44pm

I'd nominate Heath 'weirdly passive aggressive all the time' Evans as Worst NFL Network Analyst and boy did he beat out some stiff competition.

by chris303@yahoo.com :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 9:10pm

I think you may be on to something when you pointed out, "Every table has a running back or two who went to that dark, dark place more than once. In this case, both backs were selected in the first round by none other than the Chicago Chin." I beleive it has less to do with where the backs were selected and who selected them than with the type of game planning and play calling that those teams employed. The "Chicago Chin" didn't care about imaginative game plans,plan "B", or passing the ball. In Ditka's mind, and other coaches like him, the running game would "come around" or "start to work" and always "gets better as the game goes on." Often they were right but sometimes they were wrong. Very, very, wrong.

by Jetspete :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 9:48pm

haha, i remember that day for Martin. The weather was horrid and they won on a last second field goal. It is worth noting that Martin, like Watters had to deal with the horrid Arrowhead turf whereas at least one of Williams' games was in a dome

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 6:04am

Saw gasme. Played jn monsoon. Hard for Martin to find any holes to run in

by Jerry :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 3:35am

I suspect that the "large men with terrible receiving numbers" problem is a mix of dumpoffs and playcallers who figure "They'll never expect a pass to the fullback." Unfortunately, even when it's unexpected, it's easily stoppable.

by Independent George :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 9:53am

Occasionally, though, you get a game where the opposing team is totally unprepared for the FB as a receiver, and he winds up converting four or five first-downs before the defense adjusts.

There were even a few years where Larry Centers was actually the best receiver on the Cardinals. I love Larry Centers, but that's really sad in so many ways.

by Sakic (not verified) :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 10:21am

In 1995 Centers set the NFL record for receptions by a running back with 101 catches...who else was on that team? Although I distinctly remember watching the Cardinals feed him the ball in garbage time in the last game of the season to get him the record (Buddy Ryan's final year as coach which ended with his infamous run to the locker room despite the fact that the game wasn't over yet as the Cardinals scored a last second touchdown.)

by Dean :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 3:03pm

Rob Moore and a young Frank Sanders were the WRs. Garrison Hearst was the RB. The QBs were, well, flotsam. Stoney Case. Dave Kreig's carcass. And someone or something named Mike Buck who is probably forgotten by even those who went to his alma mater, wherever that was.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 3:21pm

I dunno. Buck is still Maine's all-time leading passer, and led them to their first two I-AA playoff appearances.


by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 3:06pm

Hell, he's #3, too.

Rob Moore was on those teams. he was pretty good in 1997, although he might have just absorbed Centers' lost receptions.

by Jerry :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 6:35pm

The fullbacks who convert four or five first downs in a game aren't the ones with the awful DVOA/DYAR.

And since Centers' 1995 came up, his receiving DVOA was 43.3% and he had 354 DYAR. Only four WRs had more DYAR that year. (Rob Moore led the Cards with 186, which was 21st in the league.)

by Independent George :: Thu, 08/22/2013 - 11:46am

The fullbacks who convert four or five first downs in a game aren't the ones with the awful DVOA/DYAR.

I'm not saying they were the same; I'm saying that those games are the reason why the ones with awful DVOA/DYAR exist. It works just often enough that teams will keep trying it every now and again, usually with bad results.

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 6:06am

Drew Bkedose not rookie 1995.
Rookie season was 1993

by Danny Tuccitto :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 3:41pm

You are correct, sir. Brain thought "young," fingers typed "rookie." Fixed.

by Sakic (not verified) :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 10:08am

I had to look up Troy Davis as I had never heard of him before. Finished 2nd in the Heisman to Danny Wuerffel in 1996, was a 3rd round pick, and must've had 3 incredibly unremarkable years for the New Orleans Saints.

by nath :: Fri, 08/23/2013 - 1:12pm

Ditka sure loved his Heisman winners or runners-up. Wuerffel, Troy Davis, Ricky Williams... too bad he couldn't get Peyton Manning or Charles Woodson.

by nath :: Fri, 08/23/2013 - 1:14pm

oops, double post.

by RyeLeaf (not verified) :: Sat, 08/24/2013 - 5:35am

Michael Haddix. Look him up some time. Worst ever.