Interesting post over at Pro Football Focus. They compiled an "Elusive Rating" aggregating both carries and receptions for RBs and looked at their forced missed tackles to find who really was hard to take down. Unfortunately, this revealed some disturbing data on Rice's game:
"At the other end of that scale, is a player that experienced a complete nose-dive in 2010. Ray Rice was among the better performers in 2009, and ended up 6th overall in the final Elusive Rating that year, but this season he recorded the single worst ratio of forced missed tackles to attempts, with just five in his 308 carries. Interestingly though, Rice wasn’t as ineffective as a receiver out of the backfield, where he was able to force 14 missed tackles on just 63 receptions."
What can we make of this? I don't really have an answer, but the most important thing to note here is that the "forced missed tackle" figure is meant to isolate a back's performance independently of the other players on offense, particularly the O-line. Obviously that argument is open to critique, but I am definitely troubled by the result. Obviously the O-line had something to do with us being, what, the 31st-ranked team in yards per carry, but the Elusive Rating poses a different set of questions.
I could conjecture that Rice's knee injury had an impact, and when you look at Rice's "14 missed tackles on just 63 receptions" you see he's still a crafty back, and with more targets could well have been the most elusive out of the backfield in the NFL. Perhaps categorically he was in space more at the point of reception, and in his element there.
But I want to know what the Beatdown brain trust makes of this. Hate to be the guy only posting negative stats about our players, I definitely love Rice and wouldn't trade him for any RB in the NFL
But another question is, given that I would put money down on neither McClain nor Mcgahee returning next season, how might this stat impact our search for a complement to Rice in the draft/free agency?