Its become no secret that the NFL has become a pass-happy league with TEs routinely getting 1,000+ receiving yards, QBs throwing 40+ times a game, and multiple 5,000 yard passers for the first time in NFL history. Offensive coordinators are finding ways to make every offensive skill player a receiving threat, and if they are able to do just that, it often translates into overall team success.
According to Pro Football Focus’ Three Years of Yards Per Route Run: Running Backs article, having a receiving threat at RB can help your offense tremendously. Here’s their chart of the top receiving threats at RB:
The teams of the RBs on this list won a average of 10 games last season.
Now look at the worst receiving threats at the RB spot:
If you take out FBs John Kuhn and Vonta Leach, the rest of those players teams won only 8 games on average. BenJarvus Green Ellis bolstered that ranking due to being on the Patriots, despite getting only 181 carries last season and rotating with Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead. Benson’s bottom of the barrel ranking only reinforced what Bengals fans knew all too well that he was a one dimensional back who had lost a step and had to be replaced.
Its safe to say that if you don’t have either a RB-by-committee like the Patriots had, or a do-it-all back like so many of the teams on the top chart did, it can really hinder the offense in the same way it did the Bengals last season. Brian Leonard was descent receiving threat, snagging 31 balls for 210 yards. Barnard Scott only had 17 catches for 38 yards. Unless Jay Gruden plans on giving Leonard more touches, it appears the Bengals will again struggle to find a consistent pass-catching threat out of the backfield. While it won’t be the downfall of this team, it can be a hindrance that bites the Bengals in a close game and proves to be the difference. One game last year was the difference in being in the playoffs and watching the playoffs at home.