Impact of Quarterback Mobility In The Running Game
Ideally, teams would not run the ball very often, given how much more effective the passing game is compared to a rushing offense.
However, even the most aggressive passing teams only pass the ball about 65 percent of the time on early downs, meaning that it is still important to be as efficient on the ground as possible.
So, how should teams do this? Should they spend big on running back? Should they beef up the offensive line? Really, it may be as simple as having an athletic quarterback.
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According to my research, the greater the share of a team’s rushing yards come from a quarterback, the more effective they will be by a coefficient of determination (r^2) of 18.1 percent. That means that 18.1 percent of a rushing offense’s success can be explained by how much of a share of the yards come from the quarterback, which is quite the notable amount.
Winning in the running game is mostly about box counts and matchups. Thus, creating as much confusion and chaos for a defense is critical. If an opposing defense has to focus on both the quarterback AND the running back, then it should be more difficult to fill in on run fits.
Over the past decade, there has only been one reason where a quarterback did not finish in the top two in rushing yards/attempt. Meanwhile, quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray were the top-two finishers in yards/attempt this past season.
Simply put, quarterbacks are more difficult to defend in the running game than quarterbacks. We saw this when the Saints had to start Taysom Hill, as well as when they had to defend Jalen Hurts in his first-ever start.
Moving forward, the trend of rushing quarterbacks should only continue to go.