Isaiah Crowell had a funny year. If you were paying attention in the beginning of the season — or maybe just the end of the season — you probably thought he did really well. Crowell rushed for 394 yards in Cleveland’s first four games, the second-most among all players through their team’s first four games. He also rushed for 347 yards in the Browns last four games, the fifth-most among all players in their team’s final four games. And he averaged about 6.5 yards per carry during each of those quarter-season stretches, too.
The middle of the year? Well, that was a very different story. Crowell ranked 48th among all players in rushing yards in their team’s middle 8 games of the season, with just 211 yards and an anemic 2.51 yards per carry average. Given that Crowell was the Browns main running back, Cleveland as a team experienced similar results. Absent a week game in week 7 when backup quarterback Kevin Hogan entered the game and wound up rushing for 104 yards himself, the Browns rushing split was dramatic: in all 8 games in the first/final quarter of the season, Cleveland rushed for at least 107 yards; in the 7 games in the middle of the season, the Browns rushed for fewer than 70 yards in every game. Take a look:
Browns Rushing By Game
Another team that had a weird rushing split was the Miami Dolphins. This was closely tied to the success of Jay Ajayi, who had three games with over 200 yards, one other game with over 100 yards, and failed to hit 80 yards in Miami’s other 12 games.
Dolphins Rushing By Game
I didn’t pick Miami and Cleveland at random: those two teams had the largest variation in rushing performance in 2016, at least when measured as a percentage of average output. Miami rushed for 114 yards per game, with a standard deviation of 69.8 rushing yards, or 61.8% of the team’s average performance. Cleveland was at 107.0 and 64.8, respectively, or 60.6%. The table below shows the standard deviation in rushing for each team in 2016: [click to continue…]