Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson in Top 4 yards per carry — for now

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The list of NFL running backs with more than 1,000 career carries who have averaged more than 4.85 yards a carry is a short one: It consists of two all-time greats, Jim Brown and Barry Sanders, and two active players who are at risk of falling off the list, Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson.

At the moment, this is the yards per carry leaderboard in NFL history, minimum 1,000 rushing attempts:

5.45: Jamaal Charles.
5.22: Jim Brown.
4.99: Barry Sanders.
4.86: Adrian Peterson.

Brown and Sanders retired with such high averages in part because they retired on top: Brown walked away after his age-29 season and Sanders quit after his age-30 season. Running backs who don’t stick around for their inevitable decline in their 30s end up with higher career averages.

Charles and Peterson are not planning to do the same. Both were limited by knee injuries last year, both saw their original teams get rid of them this offseason, and both decided to sign with new teams and keep going.

That means they’re putting their places on the career yards-per-carry list in jeopardy. If Charles were to finish this season with 200 carries for 700 yards, it would drop his career average to 5.19 yards per carry, and he’d fall behind Brown on the all-time yards per carry list. If Peterson carries 200 times for 700 yards, his career average will drop to 4.75, behind Lenny Moore, Robert Smith and Joe Perry.

If Charles and Peterson were to stick around for two more such seasons, they’d run the risk of sliding even further down the yards-per-carry leaderboard. That wouldn’t detract from the great careers they’ve already had, but it would make their career stats look a little less impressive.

46 responses to “Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson in Top 4 yards per carry — for now

  1. I can’t believe they didn’t think of that when they decided to continue their careers.

  2. Sad Era we live in when adding yardage to your totals from scrimmage can hurt your legacy late in your career. You are talking about men who carried the ball WELL over a thousand times and will still have a average over 4.5 …. pure lunacy to suggest anything they do on the field this year can detract from their accomplishments. All they have left to prove is their character and motives, and that’s to themselves they owe it to. Not us.

  3. Jamaal Charles’ career has been interesting to watch. It’s almost Kurt Warner-esque in the sense that his good years are insanely amazing (hence the 5.45 ypc and tons of receiving yards) and his bad seasons (injury or otherwise) are duds. Such high highs and low lows.

  4. Barry Sanders had 15,269 yards on 3,062 regular season carries, officially a 4.9866 yards per carry.

    If he would have gained just 41 more yards on those 3,062 carries, it would be a perfect 5.00 per carry.

    As much as I love Barry, many of us supporters gloss over the fact that he had more carries for negative yards than any player in NFL history. But hey, Brett Favre doesn’t talk about his 336 interceptions either.

  5. An lifelong Chiefs fan, still say that Jamaal Charles doesn’t deserve mention in the same breath as Jim Brown, among others.

    Brown carried the ball almost 2x as much or 1000+ more times than Charles, the latter having been sparingly used during his career, comparison.

    Same number of seasons as Charles, Brown was still at the top of his game time of retirement, leading NFL in rushing and averaging 5.3 per carry on almost 300 carries his final season.

    Charles hasn’t been able match that ypc average Brown’s for the last half decade or 5 years, affirmation of Brown’s greatness. Charles has been running on fumes, these last couple of years, despite his limited career carries.

    There is Jim Brown – and Gale Sayers, but that’s another story – and then every other RB pro football history… the pretenders line ‘best ever’ rest of them forms to the right.

  6. Oh the horror!!

    Stats are a losers game. Athletes play as long as they can. In addition, the real scorecard is career earnings…that won’t be decreasing.

  7. As much as I love Barry, many of us supporters gloss over the fact that he had more carries for negative yards than any player in NFL history. But hey, Brett Favre doesn’t talk about his 336 interceptions either.

    -Those risks are what made them exciting to watch…and added to their greatness. Didn’t play not to lose, they played to win.

  8. Barry Sanders was not a very complete running back, he had more rushes for negative yards, so they took him out in short yardage situations. He did not pass block and did not run routes or catch very well, so he was not very effective in the passing game. However, when he got some room he was very hard to catch and bring down.

  9. murphyslaw40 says:
    Jul 7, 2017 11:27 AM
    Barry Sanders had 15,269 yards on 3,062 regular season carries, officially a 4.9866 yards per carry.

    If he would have gained just 41 more yards on those 3,062 carries, it would be a perfect 5.00 per carry.

    As much as I love Barry, many of us supporters gloss over the fact that he had more carries for negative yards than any player in NFL history. But hey, Brett Favre doesn’t talk about his 336 interceptions either.

    ——————————————————————-

    If you lose yards as a running back it’s because the defenders got through the offensive line to get to you. Barry had the worst offensive line than any other 10,000 yard rusher.

    If Barry had ran behind the Great Wall of Dallas he’d still be running.

  10. Younger football fans tend to place too much emphasis on yards per carry for a back. And while Charles has had a good career, he’s no hall of famer.

    A superior way of judging RB quality is career 100 yard plus games. Both quality and durability are involved, and the elite in this category were HOF locks.

  11. As a Viking fan I rarely remember Barry losing yards, it was usually him gaining them. And a lot. He had that Moss potential every time to take it to the house.

  12. firejerry says:
    Jul 7, 2017 12:07 PM

    Barry Sanders was not a very complete running back, he had more rushes for negative yards, so they took him out in short yardage situations. He did not pass block and did not run routes or catch very well, so he was not very effective in the passing game. However, when he got some room he was very hard to catch and bring down.
    _____________________________________
    ???? Go home, you’re drunk. Barry was most definitely a very complete running back. Marshall Faulk was the most “complete”.

  13. YPC case in point, Mike Gilleslie, who the Patriots just poached from Buffalo. Last year he averaged 5.2 ypc. Which led the league.
    However, any back on the team who ran through the 1 or 3 hole behind Richie Incognito averaged 7.1 ypc. According to PFF. The line makes a hugh difference in ypc.

  14. florida76 says:
    Jul 7, 2017 12:26 PM
    Younger football fans tend to place too much emphasis on yards per carry for a back. And while Charles has had a good career, he’s no hall of famer.

    A superior way of judging RB quality is career 100 yard plus games. Both quality and durability are involved, and the elite in this category were HOF locks.

    __________________________

    Barry Sanders is 3rd all-time with 76 games of 100+ yards. That was 49.7% of his 153 career games. Detroit was 44-32 in those games, a 0.579 winning percentage.

    Jim Brown is 6th all-time, 58 of 118 games (51.7%). Browns were 48-8-2 (0.845%)

    Adrian Perterson in 9th all-time, 49 of 123 games (39.8%). Vikes were 33-15-1 (0.684%)

    Jamaal Charles is 58th all-time, 23 of 103 games (22.3%) Chiefs were 11-12 (0.478%)

    Just another stat showing that Jim Brown is the GOAT.

  15. Sorry Jim Brown’s percentage of 100+ yard rushing games in my post above should read:

    58 of 118 games (49.2%)

  16. AP in NO doesn’t make any sense. It will be about as bad as Emmitt Smith in Arizona.
    _______________________________________________

    I disagree. NO ran the second most plays from under center last year running the ball, and still managed success with Tim Hightower. Now, imagine AP. Now imagine the guy who leads the league in passing yards every year on the same team.

  17. lingsun54 says:

    If you lose yards as a running back it’s because the defenders got through the offensive line to get to you. Barry had the worst offensive line than any other 10,000 yard rusher.

    If Barry had ran behind the Great Wall of Dallas he’d still be running.
    ——————–
    That’s the truth. Some games it looked like the old Nintendo techmo bowl when your opponent guess your play and picked the perfect defense to counter……there would be 4 or 5 guys in the backfield while the QB is handing off…….Only Bo Jackson and Christian Okoye survived those.

  18. I seem to remember Barry dancing around a lot behind the line of scrimmage, oftentimes passing on a hole that looked like a guaranteed 3 or 4 yards, while looking for the hole that would let him go to the house.

    Whenever the ball was in his hands, something exciting happened. Could be good, could be bad… but definitely exciting (and a whole lot more goods than bads).

  19. Doesn’t matter. Ty Montgomery averaged 5.9 last year and is just getting started. Plus he is a complete back and, as a former WR, will definitely stay in on 3rd down.

    Yes, this was posted just to bait Viking fans.

  20. Frazier28/7 says:
    Jul 7, 2017 1:11 PM
    As a Viking fan I rarely remember Barry losing yards, it was usually him gaining them. And a lot. He had that Moss potential every time to take it to the house.
    ~~~~~
    Most of his plays with yardage losses were not memorable though a couple were comical as 8 or 9 defenders finally got close enough to grab him. Many series wen like this: Gain 11 yards on a run, gain 6 yards, jailbreak to swallow him up for a loss of 2, pass for another first down, 49 yard TD run. Guess which play most of us will remember. 😉

  21. I disagree. NO ran the second most plays from under center last year running the ball, and still managed success with Tim Hightower. Now, imagine AP. Now imagine the guy who leads the league in passing yards every year on the same team.
    _________________________________________

    Wait…NO had success last year??

  22. “Where’s the Nigerian Nightmare? Nobody could stop that beast.”

    Well, Steve Atwater would disagree. Not to take anything away from Okoye–he was a beast indeed–but that hit stopped him in his tracks.

  23. I guess he’s the bestest now.. Lol. Lets see if he can play even a half a season..

  24. murphyslaw40 says:
    Jul 7, 2017 11:27 AM

    As much as I love Barry, many of us supporters gloss over the fact that he had more carries for negative yards than any player in NFL history.
    ——————————————————————-

    Barry’s O-line

    LT Lomas Brown 6’4″ 275 (admitted to playing as low as 265)

    RG Erik Andolsek 6’2 305 (was starting to really come around until a truck ran him over while he was weed wacking his mailbox, RIP). Replaced by UDFA Shawn Bouwens who allowed 15 sacks in one season!!!

    C Kevin Glover 6’2″ 265

    RG He had a lot of RG’s block for him, the best being 6’7″ 305 pound Dave Lutz (at the tail end of Lutz’ career)

    RT Larry Tharpe (WHO? – among many others)

    Many of us Lions fans lamented the sillyness of the Lions not going out and getting Barry a good OL. It was so frustrating and beyond comprehension.

    Probably the BIGGEST reason why Barry had so many negative yardage plays was that the good players that they had on the OL (Brown and Glover) were very small for the position, and the rest of the guys they fielded were average, mediocre or pretty bad (sometimes very bad) players. And the other teams ALWAYS stacked the box, even if Herman Moore, Brett Perriman, and Jonnie Morton were killing them in the passing game!!!

    You had to watch the games to see it – time and time again there was a defender (or defenders) in the backfield before Barry barely had his hands on the ball!!!

    If Barry had Emmitt’s OL, he would have reached 2000 yards 5 X in his career, broken the single-season mark by several hundred yards, and averaged 6.0+ yards per carry, I have no doubt about that.

    Best RB of all time, hands down. Sorry Jim Brown fans, but he played in an era when he was bigger than most defenders, and a fast guy ran a 4.8 40.

  25. florida76 says:
    Jul 7, 2017 12:26 PM
    Younger football fans tend to place too much emphasis on yards per carry for a back. And while Charles has had a good career, he’s no hall of famer.

    A superior way of judging RB quality is career 100 yard plus games. Both quality and durability are involved, and the elite in this category were HOF locks.

    __________________________

    Barry Sanders is 3rd all-time with 76 games of 100+ yards. That was 49.7% of his 153 career games. Detroit was 44-32 in those games, a 0.579 winning percentage.

    Jim Brown is 6th all-time, 58 of 118 games (51.7%). Browns were 48-8-2 (0.845%)

    Adrian Perterson in 9th all-time, 49 of 123 games (39.8%). Vikes were 33-15-1 (0.684%)

    Jamaal Charles is 58th all-time, 23 of 103 games (22.3%) Chiefs were 11-12 (0.478%)

    Just another stat showing that Jim Brown is the GOAT.

    _________________________________________

    Thurman Thomas had 46 career 100 yard games, and the Bills won 43 of them for a 93.47% win rate. That doesn’t make him the the GOAT.

  26. rickeyp says:
    Jul 7, 2017 1:49 PM
    florida76 says:
    Jul 7, 2017 12:26 PM
    Younger football fans tend to place too much emphasis on yards per carry for a back. And while Charles has had a good career, he’s no hall of famer.

    A superior way of judging RB quality is career 100 yard plus games. Both quality and durability are involved, and the elite in this category were HOF locks.

    __________________________

    Barry Sanders is 3rd all-time with 76 games of 100+ yards. That was 49.7% of his 153 career games. Detroit was 44-32 in those games, a 0.579 winning percentage.

    Jim Brown is 6th all-time, 58 of 118 games (51.7%). Browns were 48-8-2 (0.845%)

    Adrian Perterson in 9th all-time, 49 of 123 games (39.8%). Vikes were 33-15-1 (0.684%)

    Jamaal Charles is 58th all-time, 23 of 103 games (22.3%) Chiefs were 11-12 (0.478%)

    Just another stat showing that Jim Brown is the GOAT.
    —————————————————————–

    Jim Brown played in an era when passing games weren’t very developed or sophisticated (or good – and almost everyone played outdoors in bad weather), with most QB’s throwing more picks than TD’s. Running the ball back then was the name of the game, so if you outrushed your opponent, you were usually good.

  27. Jim Brown has my vote. He was dominant in his era of the run game. Some can say, the pass game wasn’t sophisticated as it is now and they would be correct which means defenses were designed to stop the run. They couldn’t stop him.
    He was a freight train coming at you.
    Ya best ever screw the numbers. They only played 12 games a season for half his career then 14.
    Cut all these other yahoos and give them 12 game seasons and see where they fall. On their face.

  28. firejerry says:
    Jul 7, 2017 12:07 PM
    Barry Sanders was not a very complete running back, he had more rushes for negative yards, so they took him out in short yardage situations. He did not pass block and did not run routes or catch very well, so he was not very effective in the passing game. However, when he got some room he was very hard to catch and bring down.

    ——————————————————

    I want to know what you’re smoking. Barry Sanders was so good, that it was a gift to even get a hand on the guy in the open field. Those record negative carries are for plenty of reasons. The Defense, the fans and millions of fans on TV knew he was getting the ball every 1st, 2nd and 3rd down. He battled “Stop Barry Sanders” game plans every week of his career – that’s why. His offensive line sucked, that’s why they often removed him on short down situations. All this from a Packers fan, btw.

  29. TheodoreBabyHandsBustAqua says:
    Jul 7, 2017 7:32 PM

    firejerry says:
    Jul 7, 2017 12:07 PM
    Barry Sanders was not a very complete running back…….

    ——————————————————

    I want to know what you’re smoking. Barry Sanders was so good…………. All this from a Packers fan, btw.

    ________________________________

    Really? You’re a packers fan? With a username like yours I am pretty sure it’s a given, btw. Also, Barry was always a threat to score, fortunately for the rest of the NFC Central, Fontes would pull him in the red zone in favor of Schlesinger and Vardell.

  30. On Sunday, Dec. 27th, 1964, Jim Brown ran for 114 yards against Johnny Unitas and the Colts (and their #1 ranked offense and defense). The Browns won the game 27-0 and Jim Brown earned his first and only NFL Championship ring.

  31. As a Bronco fan, I am not expecting the JC of old. CJ Anderson is our starter, and second year back Davonte Booker is likely the backup. However, JC CAN help us as a 3rd down back with his receiving skills and pass protection abilities. The Broncos also love their rookie tailback DeAngelo Henderson, and second test hybrid FB Andy Janovich who can run and catch in the mold of Peyton Hollis, so the Broncos backfield is deeper than people think.

  32. Barry Sanders played on some really bad teams, and never played with a great QB. The defenses totally keyed on him. He would get the ball and immediately get hit before he had time to do anything. It was amazing to watch how he time and time again, got out of the grasp of D-Linemen, and made something out of nothing. It was like watching Houdini play football. People talk about minus yards, but did they even watch those games? No, they did not. Running backs that play on winning teams get a lot of cheap yards in the 3rd and 4th quarter, after the game has already been decided. That’s why it’s impossible to compare players based on numbers that were put up so long ago that many of us either didn’t see the games, or don’t recall the details.

  33. xlivsaints says:
    Jul 7, 2017 1:22 PM
    Where’s the Nigerian Nightmare? Nobody could stop that beast.

    ——–

    Steve Atwater would like a word with you. See his stop of Christian Okoye on youtube.

    Chiefs fan here, but that hit was even miked up!

  34. silentbenstrikesback says:
    Jul 9, 2017 8:58 PM

    xlivsaints says:
    Jul 7, 2017 1:22 PM
    Where’s the Nigerian Nightmare? Nobody could stop that beast.

    ——–

    Steve Atwater would like a word with you. See his stop of Christian Okoye on youtube.

    Chiefs fan here, but that hit was even miked up!
    ___________________________________

    It was. Okyoke was not squared up to contest that shot. Okoye had run over Atwater many times previous and after that play (same game and in other games/years). I guess those don’t count?

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