By Ken Crippen
Pro Football Researchers Association
 
Aaron Rodgers dominated the NFL's passer rating charts this year, and so did his equivalent at running back -- Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy.

As expected, LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles captured the Rusher Rating title for the 2011 regular season. He led for the bulk of the season and had a comfortable lead going into the final week. Ray Rice had a strong performance, but it was only enough to re-capture second place in the standings. Marshawn Lynch, Michael Turner and Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells rounded out the top five.
 
Now, all running backs of the season with a minimum of 230 attempts, based on Rusher Rating:
 
Player Attempts Yards Yards per Attempt TD Fumbles Rusher Rating
LeSean McCoy – PHI 273 1,309 4.79 17 1 130.11
Ray Rice – BAL 291 1,364 4.69 12 2 111.41
Marshawn Lynch – SEA 285 1,204 4.22 12 3 107.89
Michael Turner – ATL 301 1,340 4.45 11 3 104.52
Chris Wells – ARI 245 1,047 4.27 10 4 104.25
Arian Foster – HOU 278 1,224 4.40 10 4 101.64
Frank Gore – SF 282 1,211 4.29 8 2 97.85
Michael Bush – OAK 256 977 3.82 7 1 95.85
Maurice Jones-Drew – JAX 343 1,606 4.68 8 3 94.76
Shonn Greene – NYJ 253 1,054 4.17 6 1 94.56
Steven Jackson – STL 260 1,145 4.40 5 1 91.98
Willis McGahee – DEN 249 1,199 4.82 4 3 87.54
Cedric Benson – CIN 273 1,067 3.91 6 5 84.76
Chris Johnson – TEN 262 1,047 4.00 4 3 82.64
 
 
Real Running Back Rating
 
Looking at the regular season leaders (based on Rusher Rating, with a minimum of 230 attempts) we have the following (Listed by Real Running Back Rating):
 
Player Receptions Receiving Yards Receiving TD Rusher Rating Real RB Rating Diff.
LeSean McCoy – PHI 48 315 3 130.11 110.87 -19.24
Ray Rice – BAL 76 704 3 111.41 95.45 -15.96
Maurice Jones-Drew – JAX 43 374 3 94.76 94.12 -0.64
Arian Foster – HOU 53 617 2 101.64 91.86 -9.78
Marshawn Lynch – SEA 28 212 1 107.89 89.32 -18.57
Michael Bush – OAK 35 405 1 95.85 85.27 -10.58
Michael Turner – ATL 17 168 0 104.52 77.51 -27.01
Chris Wells – ARI 10 52 0 104.25 70.44 -33.81
Frank Gore – SF 17 114 0 97.85 68.76 -29.09
Shonn Greene – NYJ 30 211 0 94.56 67.28 -27.28
 
McCoy, again, had a comfortable lead heading into the final week of the season. Rice improved his overall Real Running Back Rating in Week 17, but still trailed by a wide margin. Jones-Drew moved into third place, with Arian Foster and Lynch finishing in the top five.
 
 
Rusher Rating Differential
 
Time to take a look at team Rusher Ratings. First, we will take a look at Offensive Rusher Rating. On the legs of DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Cam Newton, the Carolina Panthers easily took the Offensive Rusher Rating title. Their 130.53 Rusher Rating far outpaced the surging Philadelphia Eagles (109.99). Philadelphia struggled during a bulk of the season, but started to put things together toward the end. However, it was too late to get into the playoffs. The New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots finished in the top five for the season.
 
Here are all 32 teams, based on Offensive Rusher Rating, for the season:
 
Player Attempts Yards Yards per Attempt TD Fumbles Rusher Rating
Carolina Panthers 445 2,408 5.41 26 3 130.53
Philadelphia Eagles 450 2,276 5.06 20 9 109.99
New Orleans Saints 431 2,127 4.94 16 3 109.12
Minnesota Vikings 448 2,318 5.17 18 7 108.97
New England Patriots 438 1,764 4.03 18 3 107.68
New York Giants 411 1,427 3.47 17 6 101.16
Oakland Raiders 466 2,110 4.53 16 7 100.58
San Diego Chargers 436 1,864 4.28 16 8 99.68
Baltimore Ravens 459 1,996 4.35 15 6 99.08
Atlanta Falcons 453 1,834 4.05 14 4 97.90
Pittsburgh Steelers 434 1,903 4.38 13 5 97.63
Houston Texans 546 2,448 4.48 18 10 97.57
Green Bay Packers 395 1,558 3.94 12 4 96.25
Seattle Seahawks 444 1,756 3.95 15 8 95.52
San Francisco 49ers 497 2,038 4.10 14 5 95.20
Buffalo Bills 391 1,921 4.91 12 10 94.46
Arizona Cardinals 389 1,625 4.18 12 8 92.95
New York Jets 443 1,692 3.82 14 8 92.85
Detroit Lions 356 1,523 4.28 9 6 90.39
Chicago Bears 456 2.015 4.42 10 7 88.94
Washington Redskins 400 1,614 4.04 8 4 87.70
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 346 1,458 6.00 9 8 87.68
Denver Broncos 546 2,632 4.82 11 11 87.29
Cincinnati Bengals 455 1,778 3.91 10 7 86.16
Tennessee Titans 376 1,438 3.82 8 5 86.09
Indianapolis Colts 382 1,594 4.17 8 7 85.30
Miami Dolphins 469 1,987 4.24 11 13 83.37
St. Louis Rams 409 1,667 4.08 7 6 83.16
Dallas Cowboys 408 1,807 4.43 5 8 78.47
Jacksonville Jaguars 489 1,970 4.03 9 13 78.34
Kansas City Chiefs 487 1,893 3.89 5 5 78.21
Cleveland Browns 415 1,531 3.69 4 10 69.97
 
 
The San Francisco 49ers led all season in Defensive Rusher Rating. They went the first 15 weeks without giving up a rushing touchdown and finished with a mere three rushing touchdowns against. Their 65.92 Defensive Rusher Rating gives them the 2011 title. Miami, Baltimore, Houston and Chicago round out the top five.
 
Here are all 32 teams, based on Defensive Rusher Rating, for the season:
 
Player Attempts Yards Yards per Attempt TD Fumbles Rusher Rating
San Francisco 49ers 353 1,236 3.50 3 10 65.92
Miami Dolphins 412 1,530 3.71 8 9 79.76
Baltimore Ravens 419 1,482 3.54 10 10 81.73
Houston Texans 378 1,536 4.06 8 8 83.54
Chicago Bears 384 1,542 4.02 10 9 86.47
Tennessee Titans 461 2,053 4.45 10 9 86.93
Pittsburgh Steelers 399 1,597 4.00 7 2 87.74
Seattle Seahawks 473 1,797 3.80 10 4 88.14
Minnesota Vikings 439 1,712 3.90 10 5 88.73
San Diego Chargers 448 1,955 4.36 8 3 89.20
Denver Broncos 488 2,021 4.14 11 5 90.39
Dallas Cowboys 385 1,585 4.12 10 6 90.72
Cleveland Browns 534 2,359 4.42 12 6 91.37
Kansas City Chiefs 508 2,112 4.16 14 8 92.26
Atlanta Falcons 372 1,552 4.17 10 5 92.84
Green Bay Packers 383 1,789 4.67 10 6 93.84
Philadelphia Eagles 414 1,801 4.35 11 5 94.20
Cincinnati Bengals 425 1,675 3.94 14 8 94.32
Jacksonville Jaguars 435 1,667 3.83 14 7 94.37
New England Patriots 405 1,874 4.63 13 10 94.55
Detroit Lions 410 2,050 5.00 10 5 95.80
New York Giants 435 1,940 4.46 15 10 96.53
New York Jets 451 1,777 3.94 17 10 96.89
St. Louis Rams 509 2,427 4.77 17 12 96.99
New Orleans Saints 351 1,738 4.95 11 7 97.93
Arizona Cardinals 475 1,986 4.18 15 3 100.42
Washington Redskins 438 1,884 4.30 15 5 100.99
Indianapolis Colts 540 2,303 4.26 19 5 102.64
Carolina Panthers 451 2,093 4.64 18 10 102.68
Buffalo Bills 467 2,224 4.76 19 9 105.41
Oakland Raiders 430 2,178 5.07 15 3 107.86
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 498 2,497 5.01 26 10 116.52
 
 
For the record, the average rushing numbers were as follows:
 
  Attempts Yards Yards per Attempt TD Fumbles Rusher Rating
Average 437 1,874 4.29 13 7 93.81
 
 
Led by their stellar Defensive Rusher Rating, the San Francisco 49ers captured the 2011 Rusher Rating Differential title. The Carolina Panthers tried to take it away from them, but their 102.68 Defensive Rusher Rating was too much to overcome. Minnesota, Baltimore and Philadelphia all were in the top five.
 
Finally, here are all 32 teams ranked, based on Rusher Rating Differential, for the season:
 
Team Rushing Attempts Offensive Rusher Rating Defensive Rushing Attempts Defensive Rusher Rating Rusher Rating Differential
San Francisco 49ers 497 95.20 353 65.92 29.28
Carolina Panthers 445 130.53 451 102.68 27.85
Minnesota Vikings 448 108.97 439 88.73 20.24
Baltimore Ravens 459 99.08 419 81.73 17.35
Philadelphia Eagles 450 109.99 414 94.20 15.79
Houston Texans 546 97.57 378 83.54 14.03
New England Patriots 438 107.68 405 94.55 13.13
New Orleans Saints 431 109.12 351 97.93 11.19
San Diego Chargers 436 99.68 448 89.20 10.48
Pittsburgh Steelers 434 97.63 399 87.74 9.89
Seattle Seahawks 444 95.52 473 88.14 7.38
Atlanta Falcons 453 97.90 372 92.84 5.06
New York Giants 411 101.16 435 96.53 4.63
Miami Dolphins 469 83.37 412 79.76 3.61
Chicago Bears 456 88.94 384 86.47 2.47
Green Bay Packers 395 96.25 383 93.84 2.41
Tennessee Titans 376 86.09 461 86.93 -0.84
Denver Broncos 546 87.29 488 90.39 -3.10
New York Jets 443 92.85 451 96.89 -4.04
Detroit Lions 356 90.39 410 95.80 -5.41
Oakland Raiders 466 100.58 430 107.86 -7.28
Arizona Cardinals 389 92.95 475 100.42 -7.47
Cincinnati Bengals 455 86.16 425 94.32 -8.16
Buffalo Bills 391 94.46 467 105.41 -10.95
Dallas Cowboys 408 78.47 385 90.72 -12.25
Washington Redskins 400 87.70 438 100.99 -13.29
St. Louis Rams 409 83.16 509 96.99 -13.74
Kansas City Chiefs 487 78.21 508 92.26 -14.05
Jacksonville Jaguars 489 78.34 435 94.37 -16.03
Indianapolis Colts 382 85.30 540 102.64 -17.34
Cleveland Browns 415 69.97 534 91.37 -21.40
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 346 87.68 498 116.52 -28.84
 
The final week
 
Michael Turner of the Atlanta Falcons led all running backs in Rusher Rating the last week of the regular season. Ray Rice, Ben Tate and Chris Ivory also had stellar performances to end the season. It was no surprise that all four are on playoff teams. In fact, eight of the top ten running backs this week are on playoff teams. Only Maurice Jones-Drew and Evan Royster will be sitting out the post-season.

Here are the top 10 rushers of Week 17 with a minimum of 15 attempts, based on Rusher Rating:
 
Player Attempts Yards Yards per Attempt TD Fumbles Rusher Rating
Michael Turner – ATL 17 172 10.12 2 0 158.33
Ray Rice – BAL 24 191 7.96 2 0 149.22
Ben Tate – HOU 16 97 6.06 1 0 138.82
Chris Ivory – NO 19 127 6.68 1 0 135.65
Ahmad Bradshaw – NYG 16 57 3.56 1 0 125.10
Maurice Jones-Drew – JAX 25 169 6.76 0 0 89.87
Evan Royster – WAS 20 113 5.65 0 0 83.78
Stevan Ridley – NE 15 81 5.40 0 0 84.41
Willis McGahee – DEN 28 145 5.18 0 0 81.19
Kendall Hunter – SF 16 76 4.75 0 0 78.84
 
 
How the Rusher Rating is Calculated
 
Here is how each component is calculated:
 
Average Yards Gained per Attempt (YD) = [Total Yards/(4.05 * Rushing Attempts)]
 
Percentage of TDs per Carry (TD) = [(39.5*Touchdowns)/Rushing Attempts]
 
Percentage of Fumbles per Carry (F) = [2.375-((21.5*Fumbles)/Rushing Attempts)]
 
Adding these components together and adjusting to a scale of 158.3 (the same as the NFL Passer Rating System) yields:
 
Rusher Rating = [(YD) + (TD) + (F)] * (100/4.5)
 
 
How the Real Running Back Rating is Calculated
 
Now, we look at the Real Running Back Rating. Here are the updated equations with the receiving components:
 
Average Yards Gained per Attempt (YD) = [Total Yards/(4.05 * Rushing Attempts)]
 
Percentage of TDs per Carry (RUSHTD) = [(39.5*Touchdowns)/Rushing Attempts]
 
Average Yards Gained per Reception (REC) = [Receiving Yards/(9*Receptions)]
 
Percentage of TDs per Reception (RECTD) = [(27.5*Touchdowns)/Receptions]
 
Percentage of Fumbles per Touch (F) = [2.375-((21.5*Fumbles)/(Rushes + Receptions))]
 
Adding these components together and adjusting to a scale of 158.3 yields:
 
Rusher Rating = [(YD) + (RUSHTD) + (REC) + (RECTD) + (F)] * (100/7.5)
 
 
Ken Crippen is the executive director of the Professional Football Researchers Association, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to preserving football history. You can follow him on Twitter: @KenCrippen.