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| | NFL 2009 AFC NOTES-- WEEK 7
AFC Notes -- Week 7
Week 7, 2009, 10/20/2009
AFC NEWS ‘N’ NOTES
EXECUTION IS KEY IN SHORT-YARDAGE SITUATIONS
Every inch is earned in the NFL and a physical rushing attack is required to excel in short-yardage situations.
“The aggressor wins in those circumstances,” says Denver Broncos left tackle RYAN CLADY on offenses vying for a first down on short-yardage plays.
NFL Network analyst and former All-Star running back MARSHALL FAULK knows the importance of executing on short-yardage opportunities. Faulk totaled 12,279 career rushing yards in 13 NFL seasons (1994-2006) and says finishing on short-yardage opportunities can be the difference in a team being a pretender or contender.
“Short-yardage plays are considered attitude situations for teams,” says Faulk. “Teams that execute on third down and pick up the first down are often thought of as tough, hard-nosed teams, especially when they run the football to get those first downs. It’s instrumental for teams in this league to have the ability to convert third-and-short situations if you plan on making the playoffs.”
Since 2000, Indianapolis Colts running back JOSEPH ADDAI ranks first in the NFL among active running backs with a 79.2 conversion percentage on third down with two-or-fewer yards to go. From a technique standpoint, Addai says running backs have to win the leverage battle by being the “lower man.”
“It’s essential to keep your pad level down,” says Addai. “You need to make one cut and go forward. And you have to understand how the blocking is designed so you know the blocking schemes. It makes things a lot easier in those tight situations. I look at the tackles and guards to see how the blocks are forming.”
Following are the highest third-down conversion percentages with two-or-fewer yards to go since 2000 among active running backs (minimum 25 attempts):
Joseph Addai, Indianapolis Colts
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Ronnie Brown, Miami Dolphins
Larry Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs
Brad Hoover, Carolina Panthers
Cincinnati Bengals running back CEDRIC BENSON, who has converted third-and-one situations into first downs three of four times this season focuses on staying patient and finding the smallest opening.
“Defenses don’t play straight ahead in a short-yardage situation because all the back has to do then is pick a hole and shoot through it,” says Benson. “As a running back, what you’re always going to be looking for is that first small, little opening just behind the flow of the defensive front. Short-yardage runs definitely can turn into big plays. If you are able to bust through the front, you can be left with only one defender to beat.”
Teams with the highest third-down conversion percentage with two-or-fewer yards to go through Week 6:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Green Bay Packers
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