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The tale of two broken tackle stats

Football Outsiders continued their look at broken tackles, looking at the offensive side of the ball. Two players from the St. Louis Rams made their list, though each player's appearance tells a slightly different story for 2010 and could hint at what's ahead for 2011. 

For running backs, broken tackles are a big deal. The very nature of their job is to burst through small holes opened up in the middle of a crowed field. The better a running back is at breaking tackles, the better they are getting yards.

Steven Jackson broke 28 tackles last year on 376 total touches. Last year, Jackson broke 49 tackles, one of the highest numbers of broken tackles in the league. That's quite a drop. Billy Devaney spoke recently of the trouble Jackson had last year with a broken finger in the second half of the season. His finger limited his ability to stiff arm defenders and thus work his way through contact. Jackson's yards per attempt reflect the difference between the two halves of the season. He also dealt with a strained groin. Obviously, this underscores the need the Rams have in finding a backup running back. It also feeds those questions about whether or not Jackson can be as effective in 2011, after 750 touches over the last two seasons. 

On the list of broken tackles by receivers and tight ends, Brandon Gibson was tied for the third most, 11, broken tackles. That bodes well for his ability to get yards after the catch. With a 58 percent catch rate and entering his third season, it makes me wonder if he can establish himself as a solid possession receiver. As he noted, however, there will be some stiff competition for those roster spots.