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Jets RB Michael Carter climbs into NFL’s #2 spot in crucial metric

Michael Carter, NY Jets, Stats, PFF, Injury, Return
Michael Carter, New York Jets, Getty Images

Michael Carter reaches the elite ranks in an important stat

While New York Jets rookie running back Michael Carter has not posted the most mind-boggling box score statistics this season, averaging a ho-hum 3.8 yards per carry, he passes the eye test again and again.

Carter’s elusiveness and contact balance stand out clear as day whenever he runs the football. He consistently makes men miss on his way to gaining more yards than you would expect him to gain in the given situation.

Fortunately, we have a metric that helps us quantify these abilities: missed tackles forced (courtesy of Pro Football Focus).

Carter has forced 45 missed tackles this season, which ranks as the eighth-most among running backs. He’s achieved that ranking despite getting only 152 touches, which ranks 31st.

With such a disparity, Carter is one of the best tackle-breakers on a per-touch basis in the entire league.

Carter is averaging 0.296 missed tackles forced per touch. That ranks second-best out of 47 qualified running backs, trailing only fellow rookie and collegiate teammate Javonte Williams of the Broncos (0.308).

Second. Best.

Yes, Carter has been that good when it comes to the consistency at which he makes defenders miss.

Here are the league’s current top-10 tackle breakers out of the 47 backs with at least 100 touches as of Monday, Dec. 20:

  1. Javonte Williams (0.308 missed tackles forced per touch)
  2. Michael Carter (0.296)
  3. Nick Chubb (0.275)
  4. Rhamondre Stevenson (0.268)
  5. Kareem Hunt (0.250)
  6. Devin Singletary (0.246)
  7. Mike Davis (0.244)
  8. Josh Jacobs (0.237)
  9. Najee Harris (0.237)
  10. Alexander Mattison (0.236)

The league average among running backs this season is 0.176 missed tackles per touch. So, over Carter’s diet of 152 touches, the average running back would have forced only 27 missed tackles instead of Carter’s 45.

Carter was up to his usual tricks in his most recent appearance against the Miami Dolphins, his return to the field after a three-game absence.

In Miami, Carter did not light up the stat-sheet, rushing eight times for 18 yards and catching one pass for two yards (20 scrimmage yards). However, he continued to do what he does best: gain more yardage than the average running back would have gained with the same blocking.

Across only nine total touches, Carter forced five missed tackles (0.556 per touch), including four in the run game and one as a receiver. With numbers like that, it’s probable that most other running backs would have gained even less than the mere 20 scrimmage yards that Carter collected, meaning that he made a positive impact even if the stat sheet says he did essentially nothing.

Elusiveness is arguably the most important skill at the running back position, and Carter has been elite in that area as a 22-year-old rookie.

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Barney Miller
2 years ago

Love the detailed analytics you guys bring. Question: The Jet Coaches must know this about Carter. Why did he only handle the ball 8 times? I know they wanted to get Coleman back into a flow. But in a game that they actually had a chance to win, where they were leading at times and could have used a running game to keep their awful defense off the field, along with horrible 2nd half pass blocking that almost got Zach killed, why didn’t Carter get the ball more?