Long and Winding Rhodes

I continue wasting too much time on other sites, and I’m determined to recoup some of my temporal investment here.

To recap, the running argument in many places is about Joseph Addai.  Most sane people point out that Joe was hurt last year and that the O-line was terrible.  Others continue to live in delusion, and claim the line wasn’t that bad.  Their argument goes like this:

Addai and Rhodes posted the same numbers.  Rhodes was an undrafted veteran.  Joe was coming off a Pro Bowl.  Therefore Rhodes was better than Joe.

Clearly, that makes no sense.  If two guys perform the same, they perform the same, regardless of what scouts thought of them YEARS ago. Still, they continue the chain of ‘logic’.

Rhodes posted 3.5 YPC in 2006.  He posted the same numbers in 2008.  Therefore, the Colts O line must have played the same.  The problem was all Addai.

This is an interesting theory, but very wrong.  To begin with, Dom had one carry for 38 yards in a blowout against Baltimore.  Take away that one play, and Dom was actually worse in 2008 than in 2006.  But there are more reasons to question the supposition that Dom was had the same success.  Now for the numbers that I painstakingly researched, and didn’t want to just waste on a comment box.

We must consider Dom’s role in the 2006 offense.  He was the starting RB, and had most of his carries in the first quarter.  His carries were split evenly between the halves.  In both 2006 and 2008, the Colts ran the ball dramatically better in the second half.  In 2006, Colts RBs averaged over 4.5 YPC in the second half and just 3.74 YPC in the first half.  It was easier to run in the second half.  In 2008, the numbers are similar (though less extreme), in the first half, the backs rushed for less than 3.45 YPC.  In the second half, the number rises to better than 3.6 YPC.

Dom’s role changed dramatically at the end of 2006.  In the playoffs, he he had 13 first half carries (only 2 in the first quarter) for an average of 3.8 YPC.  In the second half of games, he had 48 carries for an average of 5.9 YPC.   Dom was made the 2nd half back, and was very successful, as one would expect. It was easier to run in the second half.

Flash forward to 2008.  Dom’s role switches from starting RB with the bulk of his carries in the first quarter, to the second RB with most his carries coming later in the game.  Dom’s 2008 role was EASIER than his 2006 role.  He should have posted BETTER numbers.  If the O line was really adequate, we should have seen Dom increase his YPC to reflect his new role. More second half carries should mean more success.

Yet, Dom posted the same overall YPC (even with the one Baltimore run) as in 2006.  He should have improved.  He didn’t.  The reason is that the O-line simply didn’t have a very good year.  Both Rhodes and Addai regressed statistically, which is what we should expect from RBs playing behind that line.

Further complicating the case of the anti-Addai crowd is the stat I quoted earlier this week that shows that in games where both RBs had at least 5 carries each, Addai out-rushed Dom 3.9 to 3.6 YPC.

Is this a boring conversation?  Well, honestly yes.  But I rifled through lots of play by plays of playoff games to generate those numbers and wanted them to see the light of day.  To sum up:

  • Both Addai and Rhodes saw their YPC decline in 2008 from where it should have been.
  • Addai out-performed Rhodes in games where both played.
  • The Oline was a mess in 2008.  Fixing it will solve the running game. 

It’s not really that complicated.

Links:

He loves him the pretzels

It’s about Dom, so I guess I’ll link it.

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