Film breakdown: All aboard the Evan Royster train

In the first 14 games of 2011, Evan Royster barely saw the field, playing only 41 snaps.  In the last two, Royster had a couple of very impressive performances:

Evan Royster Carries Yards Avg TD
Vikings 19 132 6.9 0
Eagles 20 113 5.6 0
Totals 39 245 6.3 0

Keep in mind that both the Vikings and Eagles had absolutely nothing to play for in Weeks 16 and 17, respectively, not to mention the Eagles were the 2nd worst tackling team in the NFL in 2011, according to PFF.  Also, Royster was fresh, whereas the defenses he was facing had a full season under their belts.  Still, I wanted to take a look at him on film, and I really liked what I saw.  PFF had him down for 8 broken tackles in those two games.  There is no way that is accurate, as I saw far more.  What I see is a very tough runner that is deceptively fast, with good cutback ability and the knack for consistently getting yards after contact.

First, a couple plays from the Vikings game:

Here, he has already made a cut at the LOS, and is into the second level with a head of steam.  The two safeties, Jamarca Sanford (33) and Mistral Raymond (41), are closing in.

First contact is made by Sanford at about the 39 yard line:

Royster blasts right through both defenders.  Five yards later, Sanford is left trying to grab whatever he can (red arrow: he gets Royster’s hand warmer) as Royster chugs by, while Raymond is somehow left grabbing onto his own teammate.

Three more yards later, Raymond has fallen off the truck, and Sanford, clinging to Royster’s hand warmer, is comically being dragged along like Niedermayer being dragged by the horse in Animal House. Linebacker E.J. Henderson (56) also now has him in a bear hug:

Four more yards later, Sanford is STILL hanging onto Royster’s hand warmer and being drug along for the ride, along with Henderson.

After all that effort, Sanford has finally fallen off, and his teammates finally stop Royster’s progress at about the Viking 47.

Royster carried defenders for 14 yards.

Now, let’s take a look at a true star player trying to tackle Royster, 6x Pro Bowler and 5x All Pro DT Kevin Williams. Here’s Williams (93) with a chance to get Royster down at the LOS:

Williams gets both arms on Royster:

But arm tackles aren’t going to get it done, even if you’re Kevin Williams, as Royster blasts through the line for an 11 yard gain:

It was more of the same against the Eagles.  Just a bunch of broken tackles, and hard, physical running.  A very short sampling:

It’s kind of crazy that Evan Royster is Penn State’s all-time leader rusher, and he was drafted in the 6th round.  Paired with the shifty, speedy Roy Helu, the Redskins may have a nice 1-2 punch at RB on their hands.  I started to try to think of comparable RB duos to Helu and Royster, and I considered Julius Jones and Marion Barber back in the days when the Cowboys were a SB threat.  I think Helu and Royster can actually be better.  I also began to think of them as sort of a poor man’s version of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, but that’s a pretty unfair comparison.  I think we’ll just have to wait and see how Mike Shanahan deploys his RB duo, but those two can be a potent tandem.


  1. WeGotLinemen says:

    I think Royster is going to be a very solid play for the ‘Skins. He isn’t going to have many 20+ yard runs, but he isn’t going to have many runs for less than 4-yards either.

    There is no doubt that he lacks the speed to stretch defenses but it was clear from his college days that his brilliant at exploiting his blockers. He can find gaps and squeeze through them without using momentum. He does a good job of redirecting and juking, keeping defenders off-balance. He is also one of the best I’ve seen in a longt time at exploiting a lead blocker. Pair him up with a competent fullback and Royster will be a real weapon.

    The thing I really like about Royster, he almost always gets 1-2 yards after first contact and he doesn’t shy away from a 4-yard gain. Some running backs looks like they are always trying to break the big one for a touchdown. Royster just seems intent on moving the ball forward.

    It would be great to have a player like McCoy, but Shanahan has done a pretty good job building up a respectable HB rotation on the cheap.

  2. […] Blogging The Beast breaks down some Evan Royster game film.  […]

  3. deg0ey says:

    He looks good, but it’s hardly surprising that he managed to break tackles from Rolle, Jarrett and Asomugha in that clip there; they’re hardly tackling machines, are they :p

  4. Blue Eyed Devil says:

    Not afraid of a RB that’s slower than linebackers.

    Those teams were bad against the run last year and Royster’s performance is a reflection of the defense’s run stopping ability, not of him as a player.

    1. Chastle says:

      I wouldn’t say he is a bad runner because of the defenses being weak, I would wait to see him get some runs against teams that can ad see how he competes he can obviously break tackles it’s not just the defenses being weak when he breaks as many tackles as he did and you can see he definetly fights for the extra yards and can definetly cut so I don’t expect him to continue to be as good as he was in those last two games but he has to potential to be a good runner possibly a good goal line running back if he can break tackles like that

    2. Jelly says:

      Lol I can think of a certain RB who wasn’t the fastest and he rushed for a lot of yards in his career….the most ever in fact. Crazy Cowboys fans.

      1. That’s a fantastic comment.

  5. Anders says:

    Reminds me of Lynch in running style.

  6. Corry says:

    It’s not really crazy that he was drafted in the 6th round when you think about the absolutely horrible history of Penn State running backs in the NFL. I can’t remember the last time a PSU back was taken and he actually did something.

    1. Eric says:

      Larry Johnson had several good years. Blame his coach for running him into the ground, personal issues aside.

      The view of Penn St. running backs has been a little clouded since Blair Thomas and Curtis Enis had less than average careers. Ki-Jana is someone I don’t think you can blame because he had a freak injury.

      Outside of those guys, Curt Warner had a good career and Franco Harris and Lenny Moore are both in the Hall of Fame.

  7. Maximdim says:

    They look like a good combo together.. hopefully brown/polk/lewis make an even better combination with Shady!

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