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Advanced NFL Stats: Redskins Should Cut Back on Designed Runs for RG3

Redskins may want to replace designed runs for Robert Griffin III with designed scrambles. Getty Images

Brian Burke from Advanced NFL Stats is back with his weekly piece for the Washington Post -- this one addressing Robert Griffin III running.

Burke makes the point that total yards is a lousy way to measure a player's performance. Writes Burke:

Suppose it's third down and goal from the three yard line. A successful touchdown run yields only three yards. Now suppose a quarterback throws or scrambles for 5 yards on third down and seven. It's obvious that the play that gained more yards was not nearly as successful as the one that gained fewer yards.

Burke has created several measures extracted from the play-by-play that do a better job of determining how much a player contributes. According to Burke's numbers, Griffin's passing has been worth a net +38 points over the opponent; his running has been a net +29.

But, Burke goes deeper. The Skins have called 38 designed running plays for Griffin, resulting in +14 points over the opponent. On his 20 scrambles, he's +15. Or, on a per-play basis, +0.4 points on designed runs and +0.8 on scrambles.

While Griffin's scrambles have been more productive, there's another advantage as well: he gets out of bounds (meaning he avoids a hit) on 85% of his scrambles, but just 21% of designed runs. (Of course, it's worth mentioning that he got hurt on one of those scrambles where he didn't get out of bounds.)

Burke's recommendation: fewer designed runs. Replace those designed runs with "pass plays" that are really designed scrambles.