Coming into this week, the only topic hotter than Matt Cassel's crappy quarterbacking? The Jones vs. Charles debate. And "debate" isn't even a fair word to use, because that implies that someone is making an argument for both sides- and no one seems to be making a case for Jones (neither on this site or in the national media). The predominant thought is that Jamaal Charles is hands down the better back (a thought I subscribe to as well). So it got me to thinking... what is Coach Haley thinking??? So I decided to get into the numbers to confirm a suspicion that I had- Thomas Jones is on the field because of his consistency.
Watching the game yesterday afternoon, like most of you, I found myself constantly clamoring for more Charles. He is dynamic, and he is a game changer- a threat to break off a huge run or take it to the house at any moment. As a fan there is nothing more exciting to watch. And as a coach... well lets just say Haley should be salivating over this guy. So why is Charles losing the carries battle to Jones?
As I was watching the game, I began to notices something. When Jones was in, it looked like he was getting the same work done over and over again. When Charles was in, it wasn't quite the same. Big gain here, no gain there. Short gain, huge gain, big gain, small gain, negative gain... you get the idea. He is all over the place. But don't just take my word for it...
Below is a breakdown of the individual carries that the two backs have had over the last two weeks. Initially when I decided to do this post I was simply looking at the Clevland game, mainly because this is where the disparity in carries had occured. But I looked back at week 1 as well, and while not as dramatic, it was still in line with my hypothesis- Charles is more of a feast or famine back, and Jones is more of a consistent back.
|Week 1||Week 2|
|Total Carries||11||12||Total Carries||22||11|
|Total Yards||39||94||Total Yards||83||49|
|Yards Per Carry Avg||3.545454545||7.833333333||Yards Per Carry Avg||3.772727273||4.454545455|
|Standard Deviation||3.503245249||15.78741348||Standard Deviation||2.827278991||5.972665006|
|Carries <= 2 yards||5||5||Carries <= 2 yards||8||5|
|Carries >2<=5||3||3||Carries >2<=5||10||3|
|Carrries >5||3||4||Carrries >5||4||3|
|Carries <= 2 yards||45%||42%||Carries <= 2 yards||36%||45%|
|Carries >2<=5||27%||25%||Carries >2<=5||45%||27%|
|Carrries >5||27%||33%||Carrries >5||18%||27%|
|Yards Per Carry Avg||3.69697||6.217391|
|Carries <= 2 yards||13||10|
|Carries <= 2 yards||39%||43%|
Over the course of the first two weeks, particularly this last week, Jones has outperformed Charles in terms of carries for greater than 2 yards (3 yards or more). Now this is a somewhat skewed statistic, because Charles does have a much higher percentage of carries over 5 yards than Jones does, but this is why the only real logical explanation for Jones to be in instead of Charles would be for the sake of consistency. If its 2nd and 7, and you want to try and get yourself in a 3rd and short situation, Jones may be the more appealing back to Haley. You have a better idea of what you are going to get from him- something likely in the 3-5 yard range. Charles could do the same, or he could break it off for 50 and a touch... or he could get tackled for a loss. With the paced, metered feel of the Weis/Haley offense, it is very much about moving the ball in small consistent chunks down the field. A very west coast style of play. And if you take away carries of 10 yards or more from both backs, Jones is averaging 3.03 ypc to Charles' 2.75. Not quite what you would expect, no?
It must be stated at this point that this is very much a devil's advocate argument for me. I love Charles, I think he is clearly the superior back because of his play making ability, and I think he should be doubling Jones' carries and not the other way around. But from the point of view of a coach who values consistency over almost any other trait that a player has, the numbers don't lie. There is some method to their carrie distribution mayhem.
Also worth noting is that this is a very small sample size. It will be intersting to see how these numbers develop over the season, because this hypothesis may end up being totally bunk very shortly. Regardless of how things shake out over the next 14 games, none of it really matters right now. We are 2-0, and damn that feels good, no matter who got us there.