The Magic of Legarrette Blount

Boom

Legarrette Blount is not a complete back. He doesn't work well in short yardage, and he's a typical boom-or-bust runner: you won't see him eke out 4-yard run after 4-yard run, but he'll alternate stuffs with 10-yard+ runs. He isn't helped by the mediocre Bucs Offensive Line, although that line started to run block better toward the end of the season. He doesn't have a great understanding of the offense and struggles when asked to pass block, and he's a non-factor in the passing game. Blount's issues are caused in part by his inexperience: at Oregon, he ran the ball a grand total of 169 times in two years. Add to that the fact that he played in an extremely different at Oregon, a zone-blocking scheme where he was asked to find a crease and then accelerate. With the Bucs he's asked to follow his blocking, but his Oregon-bred instincts lead him to pass up good holes in search of better ones, that aren't present. These problems are all correctable with coaching, although the lockout may him hurt him in that regard.

Enough about Blount's deficiencies - I really want to talk about his qualities, and those lie in the open field. When Blount gets past the line of scrimmage and has built up a little speed he's elusive and hard to tackle. Even though he doesn't have great top-end speed he manages to run away from defenders and elude their tackles in various ways, including a spectacular hurdling move. Blount was a real force in the open field, and a great addition to the Bucs' offense. 

It was really no surprise that Pro Football Focus claimed that Blount was the most elusive running back they saw in 2010. Pro Football Focus charts every play of every game in a lot of detail, and they came to the conclusion that Blount broke a stunning 50 tackles during the 2010 season. While I can't see how they arrived at that number of broken tackles as I can't come close to that number in charting those plays, I assume their methods are consistent for every player. They gave him an Elusiveness Rating of 89.8, which was over 30 points higher than the next runner. Blount is a terrific runner in the open field, and Pro Football Focus's research only confirms that. 

What makes me excited about his 2011 season isn't just that open-field skill though, it's how much better he can be as an all-around runner next year. If he puts in the work he could lead the league in every running back statistic.

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