He was just run into the ground,” you could say.
But there are plenty of counterexamples. DeAngelo Williams, DeMarco Murray and Ahmad Bradshaw, for instance, all had more than 500 college rushing attempts — which is where Henry, with 547 carries, is now. Yet these backs got better as their pro careers progressed into the third and fourth years. A regression analysis between college rushing attempts (both total and per game) and the change in NFL production (whether in yards or total carries) found no relationship at all.
Of course, this analysis looks only at the first four years of a back’s pro career; this was done to give us a sufficient sample (97 backs) and to avoid plaguing the analysis with a survivorship bias, as better backs have longer careers, and running backs in general have short tenures in the league.
So if Derrick Henry goes for 40 or more carries for a third straight game, we’ll likely hear that he’s being used up and his best pro years are being shortened. Several years down the line, that may turn out to be true. But the argument against overuse has always been that performance takes a hit in the next few years after a heavy-workload season, and with college rushers, that doesn’t seem to be the case — at least for now.
Michigan State: Lucky or good?
It’s the play of the year: Michigan State was down 23-21 at The Big House, 10 seconds on the clock, Michigan punting on what would surely be the final play of the game. It was — just not the final play anyone could have imagined: Michigan State blocking a Michigan punt and returning it for a touchdown as time expired. What was likely the most exciting moment of the college football season also perfectly represents Michigan State’s run — a year of close calls and near-failures, but success in the end.
The Spartans are 12-1 heading into the College Football Playoff vs. Alabama on Thursday. They got there not by dominance, but by the skin of their teeth. Are they lucky, or are they good? They’re both.
Start with the obvious: Michigan State has a great résumé. It ended the season ranked No. 4 according to ESPN’s Strength of Record, a statistical measure of how impressive a team’s wins and losses are. Just ahead of Michigan State are — no surprise — the other playoff contenders: Clemson, Alabama and Oklahoma.
CHANCE A “GOOD” TEAM MATCHES THIS RECORD
AVG. WIN PROBABILITY
STRENGTH OF RECORD
td class="n... http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/college-football-cotton-bowl-alabama-michigan-state/
Was he great now? Absolutely not. He blew two huge personnel calls this year, overpaying DeMarco Murray and paying a pedestrian cornerback, Byron Maxwell, $10.5 million a year on the theory that “we needed a corner and he was the best guy and this is what the market rate was.” No. Dumb. You don't pay BMW prices for a Camry. You wait until the market shakes out and you sign Brandon Flowers or Tramon Williams. But Kelly would have learned that, in time. Heck, he probably already knew it now.
Before we delve into the stunning firing of Kelly (and don't let the cognoscenti fool you; this was a stunning move to even those around the Eagles), let me tell you the three things about the story that I do know as Wednesday dawns:
Photo: Matt Rourke/AP
After hiring Kelly in January 2013, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said, “He motivates his team with his actions as well as his words.”
1. Tennessee, with Marcus Mariota, was not in play for Kelly. I talked to someone with knowledge of the Titans’ thinking Tuesday night who said the team “absolutely” was not waiting for Kelly, and had not been actively discussing acquiring Kelly from the Eagles for a high draft choice. One reason: Marcus Mariota likes Kelly but is not dependent on him for NFL success. Now, that doesn't mean the Titans won't sniff around Kelly now that he is a free agent. But the Titans weren’t waiting for him to be free.
2. Owner Jeffrey L... http://mmqb.si.com/mmqb/2015/12/29/chip-kelly-fired-philadelphia-eagles-nfl-mailbag
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Staff writer Brittany Murray can be reached at (304) 626-1439 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org