People either like or hate New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount. I feel like no one ever in between.
Some dislike how Blount seems to run into the offensive line ad nauseam, how he weighs 250 pounds and still struggles as a short-yardage back, and how he can seem to either turn it on or off, depending on the day.
Those that like Blount will point out that the Patriots offensive line has been atrocious for much of his tenure, that he seems to get stronger as the game wears on, and that he seems to play his best when it matters.
Both would be right, but CBS’s Michael Hurley has pointed out a fact that will probably catch both sides by surprise:
Among running backs in Patriots franchise history with at least 400 rushing attempts, LeGarrette Blount ranks first in yards per carry.
As in, nobody in Patriots history has ever averaged more yards per carry than LeGarrette Blount.
He’s carried the ball an even 400 times, and he’s averaged 4.57 yards per carry. Corey Dillon averaged 4.2. So did Kevin Faulk and Shane Vereen. Curtis Martin averaged 4.0. Sam Cunningham and Antowain Smith averaged 3.9.
I had to check for myself because this sounded crazy, but it’s true. Blount has the highest yards per carry (YPC) rate of any Patriots rusher in franchise history.
You have to drop the limit to 250 carries to find a more efficient rusher (Danny Woodhead, 4.80 YPC), and Blount has faced much more difficult defensive fronts on his runs.
Blount is not a perfect back. He’s averaged just 3.85 YPC in the first quarter since he joined the Patriots in 2013, one of the lowest marks in the league. In fact, I went through every running back in the league with 100+ carries per quarter since 2013 and found an interesting point on Blount.
Of the 21 running backs that were captured in this study, Blount has the 17th-best YPC in the 1st quarter and the 18th-best YPC in the 3rd quarter. He has the 8th-best YPC in the 2nd quarter and the 2nd-best YPC in the 4th quarter.
That’s right, Blount has averaged 5.42 YPC in the 4th quarter, behind only Chiefs RB Jabaal Charles (5.79 YPC). Blount is in the mold of Charles and Adrian Peterson in the sense that these players thrive when they are able to wear down the opposing defense.
This isn’t true for all big backs. Marshawn Lynch and Eddie Lacy both perform better in the 1st and 3rd quarters than they do in the 2nd and 4th quarters. Some backs like Matt Forte, Ryan Mathews, and Lamar Miller play strong for three quarters and vanish in the 4th.
Blount, at his core, is a closer. He grinds away the soul of the defense and then stiff arms them until they don’t get up. He is, statistically speaking, one of the most efficient rushers in Patriots history. Love him, or hate him, he’s going to continue to help out the offense until the wheels fall off.