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Factoid

Bijan Robinson

Rookie runner joins one of the league's best rushing offenses

The selection of Bijan Robinson with the eighth pick of the draft surprised the heck out of me. Teams don’t like to select running backs that early, and it doesn’t seem like a position of need for the Falcons.

I thought their running game looked squared away. They ranked 3rd in rushing last year, averaging 160 yards per game, with Tyler Allgeier breaking the team’s rookie rushing record. And Cordarrelle Patterson had a couple of games with 120-plus rushing yards. They can run it just fine.

That rushing production was surprising, given that Atlanta the previous season ranked next-to-last in rushing, down at 85 yards per game. That’s an increase of over 74 yards per game, which by my math is the largest increase in recent memory. (Maybe ever.)

I messed around with the numbers some on this, looking at all teams since the league went to a 16-game in 1978. Only 48 teams have improved by at least 40 yards per game. That includes three teams from the 2022 season – Falcons, Bears, Giants. No other team has improved by 70 rushing yards per game from one season to the next.

The infrastructure, it seems, is in place for Robinson (pictured) to have some success running it. I’m just not sure how much they’ll use him (I don’t think they’ll be kicking Allgeier to the curb.

On those 45 previous teams to make 40-yard jumps, by the way, 39 the next season ran for fewer yards. That’s understandable, with it being hard to hit the highest heights in back-to-back seasons. (I don’t think anybody is selecting Falcons, Bears and Giants thinking those teams will run for every more yards).

Only six of those 45 teams came back and ran for even more yards again, and they’re tagged with black dots.

IMPROVING BY 40-PLUS RUSHING YARDS
Year TeamBeforeRunDiffNext
2022Atlanta8516074.5?
2012Washington10116968.4-34.1
2011Denver9716568.0-50.0
1992Philadelphia8714962.0-39.2
2004Pittsburgh9315461.0-15.1
1983• Chicago11017060.715.4
2015• Buffalo9315259.412.4
1983• San Francisco8214158.813.0
2022Chicago11917758.6?
2018Seattle10216058.2-22.5
1981New Orleans8514357.8-3.2
2008Atlanta9515357.7-35.4
1980• Detroit10516257.612.3
2002Minnesota10115756.1-10.3
2003Baltimore11216755.1-38.2
2019Baltimore15320653.4-14.1
2014Dallas9414752.9-29.0
1983Atlanta11616852.4-41.9
2002Miami10415652.4-42.8
2012Seattle11016151.4-24.4
2007Minnesota11416550.9-18.9
1989Detroit7812850.6-7.9
1987Indianapolis9314349.7-2.3
2010Oakland10615649.6-24.0
1985NY Giants10415349.4-12.9
2015Tampa Bay8613549.2-34.1
2022NY Giants9914848.9?
1994Indianapolis8112948.3-12.8
1981Kansas City11716547.5-59.8
2004NY Jets10214947.1-66.3
2009NY Jets12517247.0-23.9
2017Minnesota7512247.0-29.0
2004Atlanta12216745.2-7.9
1983Seattle8813244.1-29.6
2016Tennessee9313743.9-22.1
2017• LA Rams7812243.817.4
2010Kansas City12116443.6-45.9
2013Philadelphia11716043.3-35.9
2014Baltimore8312643.2-33.8
2006Tennessee9513843.1-6.6
2010Philadelphia10214542.9-3.0
1999St. Louis8712942.1-13.5
1986Seattle10314441.0-8.9
1997Detroit11315440.9-31.8
2019• Arizona8412440.515.4
1988San Diego8712840.4-10.5
2020New England10614740.2-20.1
2019• Minnesota9313340.09.4

—Ian Allan

Fantasy Index