It's not exactly a secret that the NFL is continuing to move away from its running-friendly roots. Through Week 11, this has been the most pass-happy season in league history. Teams are averaging 26.9 rushing attempts per game, which would be the first time NFL teams would fail to hit 27 running plays per game. Receptions per game are also at an all-time high — NFL teams are averaging 21.9 completions per game and 239.6 passing yards per game, which would both be league records. Now 69.9 percent of yards from scrimmage come on passing plays; just wait till Andy Reid and I throw a party when that baby goes over 70 percent!
Fewer run plays would normally suggest that each individual running play would be more effective; as passing plays become more prevalent and teams begin to build their defenses around stopping the pass, rushing should theoretically become more efficient as passing becomes less efficient (even if the two paths never meet). That hasn't been the case this season, with runners averaging a mere 4.1 yards per carry, the lowest figure since 2007.
The lack of efficiency in 2013 extends to many of 2012’s star backs. It seems like every superstar running back has either experienced a notable decline in efficiency, struggled to stay healthy, or both. I count 24 backs who received 100 or more carries in 2012 and have received that many in 2013. Of those 24, nearly half (11) have lost a half-yard or more off their average yards per carry from last season. Just three — DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, and LeSean McCoy — are averaging a half-yard per carry more than they did a year ago.
What's ailing those players, though? Is there a consistent problem that stands out?