The Redskins, the Eagles and the fraudulence of football stats

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Don’t believe what you read in the NFL statistics. The Redskins run the ball better – significantly better – than the “No. 1” rushing team in the league, the Eagles (who visit FedEx Field on Sunday).

Yes, Philadelphia has gained more yards on the ground than anybody else – 828, an average of 165.6 a game. But that’s misleading. After all, 318 of those yards belong to quarterback Michael Vick, and Vick hasn’t exactly been running against eight- and-nine-man fronts. It’s scrambling yardage for the most part, closer to being passing yardage than rushing yardage.

At any rate, it completely distorts things, makes it looks like the Eagles have a first-rate, run-blocking offensive line. They don’t. They have a thoroughly average run-blocking line.

In fact, if you discounted the rushing yardage racked up by the QB – as well as the yardage gained by the punter, since it falls in pretty much the same category – the Eagles would rank a modest 14th in the NFL at 101.6 a game. The Redskins, meanwhile, because they’re quarterbacked by the largely stationary Rex Grossman (3 rushing yards), would be tied for fifth at 126 a game, almost 25 more than Philly.

But in this week’s stats, the Eagles are No. 1 and the Redskins are No. 8 (126.8). Silly, if you ask me.

It’s the same with the Panthers. They’re a middling 13th in the league rankings (116.6) – thanks to QB Cam Newton’s 160 yards. Take those away, though, and they’re 27th (84.6), one of the half-dozen worst at running the ball.

Here are the real top rushing teams in the NFL (yardage by quarterbacks and punters excluded):

1. Raiders, 153 a game

2. Vikings, 148.6

3. Texans, 132.2

4. Bills, 131.8

5. Redskins, 126

5. Patriots, 126

7. Chiefs, 120.8

8. Ravens, 117.8

9. Chargers, 115.8

10. 49ers, 112.8

14. Eagles, 101.6

 

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About the Author
Dan Daly

Dan Daly

Dan Daly has been writing about sports for the Washington Times since 1982. He has won numerous national and local awards, appears regularly in NFL Films’ historical features and is the co-author of "The Pro Football Chronicle,” a decade-by-decade history of the game. Follow Dan on Twitter at @dandalyonsports –- or e-mail him at ddaly@washingtontimes.com.

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