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Bears backs hit a wall more than most, according to PFF

Some of you were none too pleased with a recent entry I posted about an analysis by Pro Football Focus about the elusiveness of running backs.

Well, their latest analysis isn’t as subjective. PFF has crunched the numbers on zero and negative yardages runs by NFL running backs, and Matt Forte and Chester Taylor didn’t fare too well.

Of 62 backs who met the qualifying minimum, Taylor ranked 59th and Forte ranked 45th. The two combined for 81 runs for no gains on 361 attempts, or 22.4 percent of all their carries.

By contrast, Oakland’s Michael Bush led the league with just 11.4 percent of his runs with no gain. Shonn Green of the New York Jets was second (13.5 %), Tashard Choice of the Dallas Cowboys (13.9), Pierre Thomas of the New Orleans Saints (14.2) and Fred Jackson of the Buffalo Bills (14.3) rounded out the top five.

What’s interesting is that Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulk were sixth and seventh, respectively, although neither fared well in PFF’s Elusive Rating list. But PFF said that was because of the superiority of the New England Patriots run blocking.

On the flip side, despite having PFF’s worst-rated run blocking unit, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson still ranked ninth in the Elusive Rating. But 23.8 percent of his runs last season were for no gain or worse, which was the ninth-poorest percentage in the NFL.

It is important to note, though, that the 2009 season was the exception rather than the run for Taylor. It was only the second time in his career he averaged under four yards per carry for a season. In his previous three seasons with the Vikings, including 2006 when he had 1,216 rushing yards, Taylor averaged nearly 4.4 yards per carry.