The worst run defenses in history

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Dec 12, 2006



Barring a sudden turnaround of miraculous proportions, the 2006 Colts will go down in football annals as the worst run defense in modern NFL history. We first reported on the historic futility of the Indy defense earlier this season.
 
They allowed 5.37 yards per carry back then in early November. They've managed to get worse since.
 
With three games left in the 2006 season, the Colts surrender a gruesome 5.45 yards per rushing attempt. Only four teams in the entire history of pro football have been worse ... and they include some of the most inept organizations ever to disgrace NFL gridirons.
 
Seriously. We're talking deadbeats and also-rans so awful that they simply packed up their bags and folded when they found they couldn't compete. It's truly a Christmas miracle that the Colts have gone 10-3 with a run defense so weak and spineless. Just look at the company they keep:
  • The 1934 Cincinnati Reds had the worst run defense of all time (6.40 YPA). They folded at the end of the season. They posted a 3-14-1 record in their two short years of existence.
  • The 1950 N.Y. Yanks had the second-worst run defense of all time (5.63 YPA). They joined the NFL that year from the old All-America Football Conference and folded at the end of the 1951 season. They went 8-14-2 in their two short years in the NFL.
  • The 1950 Colts had the third-worst run defense of all time (5.56 YPA). They were also AAFC refugees. They went 1-11 and folded at the end of the season before rejoining the NFL in 1953.
  • The 1961 Vikings were only slightly better than the 2006 Colts (5.41 YPA). They were a 3-11 expansion team.
By the way, another 2006 favorite has always made their way on to the list of worst rush defenes of all time: the Saints have surrendered 1,713 yards on 336 attempts at this point in the season, an average of 5.10 YPA. We have to thank alert reader Ray DTrains for pointing this out, because we overlooked the Saints originally. Also, you might notice, a third -- yes, a third -- 2006 team on the list. The Rams are also in danger of joining an elite list of just 20 teams in NFL history who have surrendered more than 5.0 YPA agains the run.
 
The worst run defenses in pro football history (5.0 YPA or worse)
 
Team
Record
Attempts
Yards
YPA
1
1934 Cincinnati Reds
0-8
255
1,631
6.40
2
1950 N.Y. Yanks
7-5
434
2,445
5.63
3
1950 Colts
1-11
514
2,857
5.56
4
1959 Redskins
3-9
404
2,214
5.48
5
2006 Colts
10-3
421
2,294
5.45
6
1961 Vikings
3-11
493
2,667
5.41
7
1958 49ers
6-6
380
2,038
5.36
8
1965 Oilers (AFL)
4-10
507
2,683
5.29
9
1955 Bears
8-4
398
2,100
5.28
10
1951 Bears
7-5
372
1,958
5.26
11
1953 Colts
3-9
445
2,315
5.20
12
2003 Chiefs
13-3
453
2,344
5.17
13
1976 Chiefs
5-9
555
2,861
5.15
14
1956 Packers
4-8
512
2,619
5.12
15
1962 Raiders (AFL)
1-13
478
2,440
5.10
16
2006 Saints
9-4
336
1,713
5.10
17
1973 Patriots
5-9
560
2,850
5.09
18
1969 Bengals (AFL)
4-9-1
523
2,651
5.07
19
2006 Rams
5-8
399
2,102
5.04
19
1960 Cowboys
0-11-1
447
2,242
5.02

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