Player Points - Matt Forte
By Chase Stuart
June 2nd, 2010

Matt Forte has really struggled around the goal line in his young NFL career. How bad has he been? And what's a good way to grade goal-line running backs? Here's what I did to come up with a rough approximation of goal-line success.

I looked at all rushes by running backs from inside the five yard line over the last five seasons. If the runner gained a first down or a touchdown, I marked that play as a success. If it was 3rd or 4th down, and the running back did not gain a first down or a touchdown, that play was recorded as a failure. On 2nd down plays that didn't result in a new set of downs or six points, I still counted the play as a success if the rusher gained more than half of the yards "to go" for that set of downs. So on 2nd and 4 or 5, he would need 3 yards; on 2nd and 2 or 3, he would need 2 yards to get that play marked as a "success." On 1st down plays that didn't gain enough yardage for a first down/touchdown, I counted the play as a success if the rusher got halfway towards the goal line. So from the 2-yard-line, only one yard was needed; from the three or four, he would need at least two yards; from the 5-yard-line, only rushes that brought his team to the 2-yard-line or closer counted as success.

Every success was worth one point, every failure was worth zero. Over the past five seasons, 40 different running backs have had at least 25 carries from inside the 5-yard-line. Forte's success rate of 39% places him among the bottom three in that group:

Players
Carries
Successes
Ratio
Corey Dillon
25
20
80.0%
DeAngelo Williams
29
20
69.0%
Tim Hightower
30
20
66.7%
LenDale White
38
25
65.8%
Michael Turner
35
23
65.7%
Shaun Alexander
43
28
65.1%
Adrian Peterson
42
27
64.3%
Mike Bell
30
19
63.3%
Ryan Grant
35
22
62.9%
T.J. Duckett
31
19
61.3%
Laurence Maroney
33
20
60.6%
Deuce McAllister
40
24
60.0%
Rudi Johnson
37
22
59.5%
Ronnie Brown
50
29
58.0%
Maurice Jones-Drew
58
33
56.9%
Marion Barber
76
43
56.6%
Edgerrin James
55
31
56.4%
Dominic Rhodes
32
18
56.3%
LaDainian Tomlinson
105
59
56.2%
LaMont Jordan
31
17
54.8%
Larry Johnson
75
41
54.7%
Brandon Jacobs
72
39
54.2%
Willie Parker
39
21
53.8%
Mike Anderson
26
14
53.8%
Clinton Portis
64
34
53.1%
Steven Jackson
59
30
50.8%
Brian Westbrook
28
14
50.0%
Reuben Droughns
26
13
50.0%
Willis McGahee
65
32
49.2%
Chester Taylor
41
20
48.8%
Frank Gore
42
20
47.6%
Joseph Addai
57
27
47.4%
Jonathan Stewart
26
12
46.2%
Jamal Lewis
72
33
45.8%
Kevin Jones
42
19
45.2%
Julius Jones
27
12
44.4%
Thomas Jones
78
33
42.3%
Matt Forte
33
13
39.4%
Warrick Dunn
28
11
39.3%
DeShaun Foster
34
8
23.5%

Further, Forte's performance in 2009 was particularly ugly; he was successful on only five of his 18 carries. Among the 49 running backs with at least 15 carries from inside the five in any season in the past five years, only Thomas Jones in 2007 had a worse ratio:

Player
Year
Rushes
Successes
Ratio
Rudi Johnson
2005
16
12
75.0%
LaDainian Tomlinson
2006
23
17
73.9%
LenDale White
2008
21
15
71.4%
Larry Johnson
2006
24
17
70.8%
Shaun Alexander
2005
27
19
70.4%
Brandon Jacobs
2008
20
14
70.0%
Michael Turner
2008
19
13
68.4%
Stephen Davis
2005
19
13
68.4%
Adrian Peterson
2009
30
20
66.7%
Jerome Bettis
2005
18
12
66.7%
LaDainian Tomlinson
2005
21
14
66.7%
Clinton Portis
2007
17
11
64.7%
Mike Bell
2006
17
11
64.7%
Edgerrin James
2005
25
16
64.0%
Jamal Lewis
2006
16
10
62.5%
Willie Parker
2006
21
13
61.9%
Tim Hightower
2008
18
11
61.1%
Maurice Jones-Drew
2009
20
12
60.0%
Marion Barber
2006
25
15
60.0%
Chester Taylor
2006
15
9
60.0%
Deuce McAllister
2006
21
12
57.1%
Ronnie Brown
2009
16
9
56.3%
Brandon Jacobs
2005
16
9
56.3%
LaDainian Tomlinson
2008
16
9
56.3%
LaMont Jordan
2005
16
9
56.3%
Mike Anderson
2005
25
14
56.0%
Jamal Lewis
2007
22
12
54.5%
Larry Johnson
2005
24
13
54.2%
Joseph Addai
2009
15
8
53.3%
Matt Forte
2008
15
8
53.3%
Steven Jackson
2006
19
10
52.6%
Curtis Martin
2005
19
10
52.6%
Thomas Jones
2009
20
10
50.0%
Marion Barber
2009
16
8
50.0%
Kevin Jones
2007
16
8
50.0%
Joseph Addai
2007
18
8
44.4%
Clinton Portis
2005
16
7
43.8%
LaDainian Tomlinson
2009
28
12
42.9%
LaDainian Tomlinson
2007
17
7
41.2%
Joseph Addai
2006
17
7
41.2%
Thomas Jones
2008
18
7
38.9%
Brandon Jacobs
2009
19
7
36.8%
Larry Johnson
2008
18
6
33.3%
Jonathan Stewart
2009
16
5
31.3%
Maurice Jones-Drew
2007
16
5
31.3%
Willis McGahee
2005
21
6
28.6%
Jamal Lewis
2008
18
5
27.8%
Matt Forte
2009
18
5
27.8%
Thomas Jones
2007
15
3
20.0%

What does this mean for 2010? Chester Taylor doesn't have a particularly success ratio around the goal line, either. In 2009, he was successful on only one of seven carries from inside the five; the last of three consecutive runs at the 1-yard-line against the Rams in week five. And, of course, it's worth remembering that Jones followed up his awful 2007 campaign around the goal line with 13 rushing touchdowns. But If Mike Martz was looking for a reason to avoid calling running plays near the goal line, I think he won't have trouble finding one.

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to stuart@footballguys.com.