Is Randall Cobb the Packers best running option?

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

English: Green Bay Packers rookie wide receive...

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are a Packers’ fan you have likely heard the team’s coaches and players talk quite a lot about how they need to get the ball into the hands of Randall Cobb more often in games. In fact, many of the game analysts have made the same statements before and during games.

Cobb has been the primary kick returner for the team, averaging 26.1 yards on kick-off returns and 11.0 yards on punt returns. He has also become Aaron Rodgers’ primary target as he leads the team with 58 receptions. He has scored seven touchdowns and gained 613 yards receiving.

But it is what Cobb has done running the ball that intrigues more than a handful of people. In fact, it might be said that not only is Cobb the team’s number one “game changer,” but he is also the Pack’s best running option.

This season Cobb has run the ball nine times for 127 yards, an average of 14.1 yards per carry. Did you know that of players who have five or more rushes this season that Cobb is the NFL player with the highest yards per carry this season?

Following are the players this year who have gained seven or more yards per carry (minimum of five carries to qualify for the list).

Player, Team, Carries, Yards, Yards per carry

Randall Cobb, Green Bay: Nine carries for 127 yards, 14.1 average
Travis Benjamin, Cleveland: Five carries for 51 yards, 10.2 average
Cedric Peerman, Cincinnati: 29 carries for 240 yards, 8.3 average
Brad Smith, Buffalo: Nine carries for 67 yards, 7.4 average
Jake Locker, Tennessee: 17 carries for 124 yards, 7.3 average
Cyrus Gray, Kansas City: Five carries for 35 yards, 7.0 average.

Let’s take this stat a little further… Cobb has rushed for 132 yards on 11 carries in his short 26-game NFL career, an average of 12.0 yards per carry. Based on a minimum of 10 carries to qualify, Cobb ranks tied for ninth since 1966 for most yards per carry in the league. Here’s a look at the players who since 1966 have averaged 12 or more yards per carry.

Yards per carry, player (rushing attempts, yards)

14.5 Lee Evans (10 for 145 yards)
13.4 Louis Lipps (29 for 388 yards)
13.3 Jacoby Ford (14 for 186 yards)
13.2 Billy Van Heusen (13 for 171 yards)
13.1 Derrick Alexander (16 for 210 yards)
12.8 Steve Odom (16 for 205 yards)
12.3 Phil Epps (11 for 135 yards)
12.2 Frank Lewis (12 for 146 yards)
12.0 Steve Breaston (10 for 120 yards)
12.0 Randall Cobb (11 for 132 yards)
12.0 Andre Hastings (13 for 156 yards)

If you know your Packers history, you recognized two other names on the above list, Steve Odom and Phil Epps. Based on a minimum of 10 rushing attempts in a career, Odom tops the Packers list (since 1966) for highest yards per carry with a 12.8 average (16 carries for 205 yards). Odom played for the Pack from 1974-79.

Also on the list is former Packer Phil Epps. He played for the team from 1982-88 and had 10 carries for 121 yards, an average of 12.1 per carry. Odom and Epps are ahead of Cobb on the Packers list for highest yards per carry in a Packers career (minimum of 10 carries since 1966).

Will we see more running plays designed for Randall Cobb? If stats have any bearing on what will happen, we certainly can look for the Packers to try to find a way to get the ball to Cobb more often in a direct handoff.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp


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