Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs leads the NFL in an explosive category

With the qualifying threshold as the only caveat, Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs is in his own category in explosive run rate weighed against negative runs.
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

All the constipation about Jahmyr Gibbs' perceived lack of touches early in the season has subsided. He stepped into the lead back role with David Montgomery out in Week 7 and Week 8, delivering 126 and 189 total yards respectively while totaling 51 touches.

With Montgomery set to return this week and Gibbs developing like he has, the "two-headed monster" backfield head coach Dan Campbell envisioned in August can now come to full fruition. In a more direct sense, Gibbs can be deployed more like the multi-faceted weapon he has been envisioned to be.

Week 8 against the Las Vegas Raiders was a full exhibition of what Gibbs can do as a runner, with speed and power on his way to 152 yards on the ground. He also won Good Morning Football's "Angry Runs" segment for the week for one of his runs around and through Raiders' defenders.

Lions' running back Jahmyr Gibbs leads NFL in an explosive category

Sumer Sports (using nflfastR data) has put out a chart showing explosive run rate and negative run rate for running backs with at least 60 carries through Week 9. Analyst Tej Seth acknowledged how Dolphins running back Devon Achane (38 carries) would break the chart if he had the minimum 60 carries to qualify, but he doesn't.

As usual with these kind of charts, up and to the right is good (low negative run rate and high explosive run rate in this case). An explosive run is classified as 15-plus yards, and a negative run is self-explanatory. Gibbs is an category of his own, with seven of his 76 carries gaining 15 or more yards.

As seen in the second chart, Gibbs' efficiency metrics (EPA per rush, success rate) are middle of the pack while David Montgomery is among the 10-best qualifiers on that chart.

These two charts are very reflective of what the two Lions' backs bring to the table. Gibbs offers explosive ability that we've seen more and more of, while Montgomery is the chain mover who might not break a lot of long runs but will always get something and has shown a nose for the end zone. A "two-headed monster" indeed.

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