by Nick Jaroszewicz
With running backs like Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore, BenJarvis Green-Ellis showing that feature backs are back in style, and Chris Johnson finally coming around, many are saying that the pendulum is swinging back to the running game. But are teams running the ball more often now than before?
Turns out, looking at the distribution of pass to run percentages of the last 5 years in the NFL, there is not even the slightest sign of a pendulum shift back to running the football. In fact, we could even make the argument that this season is amongst the most pass happy the league has seen. In 58.3% of offensive plays this season, a quarterback has dropped back to pass the ball. That is the single largest amount of passes, percentage-wise, of the last 5 years, up from the 2011 previous high of 57.1%.
Furthermore, when we break it down on a week-to-week basis, we see a general trend upward, at the slow but sure rate of .03 percentage points a week.
While the NFL may be hungry for a story line of the return of feature backs, it seems that they will continue to air out the football for a long time to come. There has been nothing in the last 6 weeks of the season to say otherwise.
All statistics from pro-football-reference.com