Sproles is underused

With only 61 carries, and 29 catches in 2008, Darren Sproles accumulated 672 yards from scrimmage [7.5 yards per touch], while LT had 292 carries, and 52 catches totaling 1536 scrimmage yards [4.5 yards per touch]. Even with kick and punt return duties, for the entire season Sproles accumulated only 165 touches. However, recent quotes of Norv Turner indicate he plans on giving LT 320+ carries in 2009, totalling a very likely 370 touches for a 30 year old back. This will leave Sproles with a similar looking ~90 touches. Looking at many of the two-back systems in the league, the more balanced the touches are, the more effective each RB generally becomes. I would like to see the Chargers implement more of a split back system. Yes LT will carry the load, but we need to see more from Sproles. Lets compare the averages (yards from scrimmage using rush attempts + receptions):

  • Sproles:  Average of 5.6 touches per game for 7.5 yards per touch
  • LT:  Average 21.5 touches per game for 4.5 yards per touch
  • Sproles:  Average 3.2 touches per game for 6.3 yards per touch
  • LT:  Average 24.9 touches per game for 4.9 yards per touch

I believe if you balance the amount of touches each RB gets, they would both increase their average yards per touch. I would like to see Sproles get 160 carries on the ground (8-10 per game) to go along ~50 catches. This gives LT about (17-20 per game) and ~30 catches. Sproles has much more big play potential, but has only been given 10+ carries per game during the regular season twice in his entire carer:

  • 2007 Week 15 vs Detroit [25 rush for 122 yards, 2 TD]
  • 2008 Week 17 vs Denver [14 rush for 115 yards, TD]

Given the game breaking ability of a back like Sproles, we will definitely want to preserve him for KR/PR, but there other very effective returners touching the ball at least 7-8 times per game, and still being very productive in the return game (scrimmage yards only):

  • 2008 ATL RB, Jerious Norwood [Average 8.2 touches per game for 6.3 yards per touch]
  • 2008 NYJ RB, Leon Washington [Average 7.7 touches per game for 6.5 yards per touch]
  • 2008 NO RB, Pierre Thomas [Average 10.7 touches per game for 5.7 yards per touch]

Bottom line, lets see the little guy. You paid him enough, and it also allows LT to extend his career. We know the split back system works extremely well, and we are not utilizing Sproles nearly enough. Gartrell may be helpful getting the tough yards between the tackles, but I think 2009 is the year for Sproles. It's quite possible though by allowing him to get enough touches, the Chargers in no way could sign him to a long term contract. They would almost be guaranteed to lose either LT or Sproles if Sproles gets the chance on the field he deserves.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Bolts From The Blue community and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bolts From The Blue editors or SB Nation.

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