Commentary

2009 NFL Next-Level Awards

See the players who thrived below the statistical surface

Updated: January 12, 2010, 11:06 AM ET
By Trevor Ebaugh, Marty Callinan, Hank Gargiulo and Allison Loucks | ESPN Stats & Information

For the first time, ESPN Stats & Information did video analysis of every NFL game in 2009, tracking a new collection of statistics and storylines. With the regular season now over, what better way to wrap it up than to recognize the best of what these new stats had to offer. We unveil the 2009 NFL Next-Level Awards.

Army of One: Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
Best RB as lone back in formation

The Titans' 2008 first-round draft pick separated himself from the rest of the league, literally. Johnson's elite abilities were on display as he torched linebackers and secondary members alike, play after play, game after game. Possibly the most impressive aspect of his phenomenal season was the fact he did most of his damage without a lead blocker. Johnson was unstoppable in single-back formations, leading the league in rushing yards (981) and yards per carry (7.3). Of players with at least eight rushing touchdowns as the lone back in the formation, only Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew found the end zone with more regularity. Jones-Drew scored every 12.4 carries, Johnson scored every 13.5 carries and Minnesota's Adrian Peterson captured the bronze medal with a touchdown every 19.1 attempts.


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