It occurred to me that DeAngelo Williams is approaching a milestone that, I believe, few running backs in the NFL have achieved. In two weeks, DeAngelo Williams is going to register his third straight season with an average of 5 yards per carry or higher, while surpassing 100 carries each season.
Some of you probably already know that I put a lot of worth into a players yards/carry average. I feel a players season average is the ultimate form of performance consistency in terms of moving chains. I know some disagree and find it a dismissal stat but, by the time a running back hits, roughly, 100+ carries for the season, I see no way that an average can be a 'fluke'. I could take a paragraph or five to explain why I think a players season average is so important but that's not the point of this post. You've all already got opinions and thus those opinions will determine exactly what this means to you.
Might I mention, this is a learning experience for me as well. I'm doing research as I type this to get a list of comparison players whom have averaged over 5 yards per carry for three or more straight seasons with more than 100 carries per season. Feel free to add any players I miss in the comments, this list is and will be far from conclusive. I'm creating it simply for comparison.
Being this feat seems to go unnoticed, though is accomplished rarely, I've given it my own term: 5 Star Rusher. I'll start with the criteria while further explanation will be at the bottom of the post for those wondering how I came about choosing those numbers.
5+ Yards/Carry Avg. per Season
100+ Carries per Season
3+ Consecutive Seasons
5 Star Rushers:
1963 - 1965: 6.4 | 5.2 | 5.3
1999 - 2001: 5.5 | 5.4 | 5.3
2007 - 2009: 5.0 | 5.5 | 5.2
Worth A Mention:
Joe Perry broke a 5 yard average 6 times in his career but never got 3 consecutively.
Tiki Barber posted back-to-back seasons with more than 5 yards per carry before retiring.
Michael Turner posted averages above 5 yards in his first three seasons in San Diego but didn't have the carries to back it up (totaling an estimated 150 carries in 3 years).
Jamaal Charles is two weeks away from posting his second consecutive year with a 5+ average.
Ahmad Bradshaw carried high averages in his first two years on few carries but currently falls .1 yard short in his first season carrying the ball 100+ times.
Jerome Harrison is similar with his previous two seasons low on carries, high on averages. Currently, he is .2yds shy in his first 100+ carry season.
Corell Buckhalter fell just .1 yard shy last season of 5.0. That would have given him three consecutive seasons, though this is his first 100+ carry season.
Felix Jones currently carries a high average for both of his seasons, though has not yet eclipsed 100 carries.
Tashard Choice also carries a high average over his two seasons but has yet to reach 100 carries.
Guys That Haven't Made It:
The other 42 players on this list among countless others.
Outside of the very few mentioned (of all the names I could think of and all the lists I could find, I only found three!), I've had quite some trouble finding other backs that have achieved '5 Star Rusher' status. I had to include the 'mentions' just to give a bit more comparison and, even then, they are backs that haven't quite 'proven' themselves, have fallen short when given the chance, or for some other reason didn't make it and could be considered on a lower scale.
So this is where I need help from some of you statistical junkies. My mind can't compile all of the great runners the NFL has seen over the years so if you know of some that are '5 Star Rushers', add them in the comment section!
So, in conclusion, DeAngelo Williams could be about to make history (pending these next two games) in the NFL without it even being realized. C'mon, can't we get that on TV instead of Favre, Brady, and Manning? Of course not!
Why 5 yards per carry? Because the bar has to be set somewhere. Considering I've yet to discover a running back with consecutive seasons surpassing a 6 yard per carry average and it's nearly common to break 4, 5 seems to be the 'bar' set by history. When a someone does post a 6 yard average 3 years in a row with 100 or more carries each year, I suppose the bar will be raised.
Why 3 years? I've also yet to discover a running back that posted 5 yards per carry for more than three years while, of course, amassing 100 or more carries each season. When a back does it four years in a row, once again, the bar will be raised. Could DeAngelo be the one to raise that bar? I guess we'll find out next year.
Why 100 carries? Once again, it seemed to be the logical step. While I seen quite a few backs surpass a 5 yard average with less than a 100 carries, there seemed to be a noticeable decline once they hit triple digits. Coupled with the average and the years, it seemed a pretty formidable task for a running back that had been accomplished few times at most.
Why 5 Star Rusher? Because I like the way it sounds.