JACKSONVILLE FL - OCTOBER 18: Running back Deji Karim #35 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs the ball against the Tennessee Titans during the game at EverBank Field on October 18 2010 in Jacksonville Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Everyone who follows the Raiders knows that Jacoby Ford is a quality return man. The man has blazing speed, and has run back three kicks for 40+ yards and two kicks for touchdowns this season. Well, I was doing some research for an article I was going to write about the importance of the Jaguars special teams playing well, and it turns out that Jacoby Ford has the 6th highest kick return yards in the AFC. You know who has the 8th most yards? Deji Karim. If you sort over at NFL.com based on Return Average, Ford is 15th, just behind... Deji Karim. As if the Jaguars and Raiders weren't eerily similar enough already...
Of course, it's important to note that numbers often lie. You can't just look at averages. You gotta look a little deeper to get the full story.I originally intended to write about Ford and how dangerous he is. On a ball control team, getting easy points is a gigantic boost for the whole team. Ford has, as I mentioned earlier, run back two kicks for touchdowns this year. One was a 101 yard return and I believe the other was 92. With those two returns factored in, he has 36 returns for 868 yards, or a 24.1 yard average. Remove those two returns and he has 675 yards over 34 returns, which is a 21.1 yard average. Deji has 786 return yards on 32 returns, for a 24.6 yard average. He has had 2 40+ yard returns, the longer of which was 51 yards. if we remove those two returns (let's say it's actually 99 yards total) that leaves Karim with 687 yards over 30 carries, for a 22.9 yard average. So without their big runs, Deji averages almost 2 yard per return better than the frightful Ford. Yes, I know, the long runs still count, but here I was ready to talk about how dangerous Jacoby Ford would be on Sunday, when quite honestly Deji is a more consistent performer in the return game. What's more, Deji gets 20+ yards on his returns 68.75% of the time, and Ford only does it 55.5 percent. Ford hits home runs every now and then, but Deji hits doubles till the cows come home.
Now none of this information was obvious, and it didn't even occur to me until I thought to write about Jacoby Ford. I've been a big fan of Deji since I saw some tape on him back in the Draft, but he's never really been flashy, and he hasn't run a kick back all the way yet. He's very good, but he's a sneaky kind of good. He's just consistently above average. I enjoyed this info enought that I figured I should share it with you all. Maybe I'll still post that "importance of the special teams playing well" article, but I kind of feel like it would be disrespectful to Deji, who is as much of a threat as Ford in a different way, if I did.