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Inside the Numbers: Powell Tops the Chart

Jets RB's Yards/Carry Can Be Best in Franchise History & Best in NFL After Sunday's Game vs. Bills


Most rushing yards is the traditional way of measuring the NFL's top running back each year. That's why Curtis Martin is considered the NFL's best back in 2004, edging Seattle's Shaun Alexander by a single yard, 1,697 to 1,696.

But there is something to be said for pounding out the most yards/carry as a measure of strength and explosion among the league's best ballcarriers in a given season. And the Jets' Bilal Powell is very much in the running for that title in 2016.

Powell is averaging 5.50 yards/carry this season on 109 carries, and in a head-to-head rarity, he'll be trying to hold off the challenge of Buffalo's LeSean McCoy at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. McCoy has more than twice as many carries as BP, 229, and his average is 5.49 yards/carry, one-hundredth of a yard or about three-eighths of an inch less per carry.

What's more, Bills back Mike Gillislee has them both beat at 6.24 yards/carry. But Gillislee has only 86 carries and the league's top rusher is determined among qualifying backs, meaning those who've averaged 6.25 carries/game, which totes out to 100 carries for the 16-game season.

If Gillislee doesn't pry 14 carries away from McCoy vs. the Jets, his average won't qualify. Then Powell/McCoy have to guard against the guys beneath them — Ezekiel Elliott of Dallas, Jordan Howard of Chicago and Mark Ingram of New Orleans, all of whom sit at 5.1 yards/carry.

Franchise 5.0 BacksThat's the same problem Leon Washington had in 2008 as far as leading the Jets or the NFL. Washington averaged 5.89 yards/carry but only had 76 carries and so didn't qualify.

But if we open the Jets' list up to players with 75 carries or more, Washington's average is the best, followed at the moment by Powell's and then Freeman McNeil, the only other Jet to lead the NFL in yards/carry at 5.21 in the strike-shortened 1982. The list also has a few surprises, such as Blair Thomas in his 1990 rookie season, Shonn Greene in 2009 and the only QB on the list, the Titans' Al Dorow in 1960.

Here are the Jets' all-time yards/carry leaders, minimum of 75 carries:

Rusher Year Atts Yds Avg TDs
RB Leon Washington 2008 76 448 5.89 6
RB Bilal Powell 2016 109 600 5.50 3
RB Freeman McNeil 1982 151 786 5.21 6
RB LaMont Jordan 2004 93 479 5.15 2
RB Blair Thomas 1990 123 620 5.04 1
QB Al Dorow 1960 90 453 5.03 7
RB Shonn Greene 2009 108 540 5.00 2

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