Earlier in the year, we did a piece on Pass Rushing Productivity. Fearing it may have been lost amongst all the labor talk of the time, we’ve revamped it – cleaned up some data and added a few more years to the mix.
Pass Rushing Productivity is back and bigger than ever and today we’re looking at the edge rushers.
It’s as simple a formula as ever. You add up all the sacks, hits and hurries a defender gets and divide it by the number of snaps they spent rushing the passer (a stat only found at PFF), multiply it by one hundred and, suddenly, you have a nice, juicy, PRP number to get stuck into.
Note: for the purpose of this study hits and hurries are weighed at three quarters the worth of sacks given that’s the average relationship between sacks and hits/ hurries in our grading. It should also be noted numbers include the playoffs. For 2010, the qualifying minimum was 200 snaps rushing the passer, which left us with 85 rushers to break down.
Getting straight into it, there’s a clear winner in Chief outside linebacker, Tamba Hali. The converted defensive end had a real break out year in 2010, leading the league in total pressures and earning the highest PRP rating. The Chiefs deserve some credit for creating mismatches with Hali and opposing tackles, getting him to attack from the left and right side of line as needed.
It’s not hard to see why he received the franchise tag from the Chiefs, but it is a little tricky understanding why the men who came second and third didn’t from their teams. Both Ray Edwards and Charles Johnson are coming off massive years, consistently generating pressure from the left side of the Vikings and Panthers defenses respectively. Yet, presuming a new CBA gets done, both men will be free to negotiate contracts with any team as they see fit. Given the need for pass rushers, it’s hard to imagine they won’t get big offers from somewhere.
Which is a recurring theme throughout the top twenty edge rushers from 2010. Teams are always looking for extra pass rush, and there are plenty of talented guys available should they want the help. We’re looking at guys who got few opportunities but impressed (Antwan Barnes in sixth), guys who don’t get the credit they are due (Manny Lawson in eighth) and guys who had career years from out of nowhere (Jason Babin in 11th and Raheem Brock in 16th). You want extra pass rush, it will be there when the market opens.
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That’s the good. Now for that not so good. First up is Kentwan Balmer who plenty of excuses can be made for. The Seahawks used a hybrid scheme, but Balmer spent most of his pass rushing time (62.91%) from a defensive end spot in a four man line. Not an ideal use of his skill set given his size, so you can understand Balmer’s struggle. Perhaps, though, the real shock is that of Calvin Pace who had a real down year compared to what we’ve seen from him previously. The Jet mustered only 18 QB disruptions all year. To put that in perspective, Chris Clemons managed 18 in one outstanding game this year. Ouch.
Some of the other disappointing players include guys who should soon be making way for others who had impressive rookie years in 2010. We’re looking at Tyler Brayton (fourth lowest score) and not seeing how he’ll hold off Greg Hardy (36th overall), and sensing that Robert Geathers (fifth lowest score) won’t stand in the way of Carlos Dunlap (31st overall) for much longer.
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But again, that’s just the 2010 data and we’ve already done an article like that. No, you came here because you want to find out about the last three years. We raised the minimum snap count to 700 pass rushing snaps from a defensive end or outside linebacker spot, and come up with some interesting results. Right up at the top is a man who, depending on who you believe, is coming off of either a bounce back year, or a vindicating one proving the naysayers wrong. Atlanta’s John Abraham. He may not have created the highest amount of pressure in this stretch (that title belonged to DeMarcus Ware), but he managed well enough to be the most productive player on a per play basis.
He was significantly ahead of Dwight Freeney, who continues to produce the goods even if his 2010 didn’t quite live up to that monstrous 2009. In the last three years, we’ve seen the AFC South bring in first round tackles to try to cope with Freeney but to no avail, as his reputation and hype make way to speed and spin moves. He’s one of two Colts in the top ten – the other not too surprisingly being Robert Mathis.
Still it’s not the Colts that have the real Terrible Twosome. That belongs to Pittsburgh, who have James Harrison in third, just ahead of his teammate Lamarr Woodley. It’s no wonder the Steelers have gone to two Super Bowls in three years when they have these two coming off the edge at you.
Their placing does mean that DeMarcus Ware, creator of more pressure than any other over the past three years, lands as the third outside linebacker in the rankings. It may be surprising to see Ware ‘this far down’ the list, but it’s at least partially a credit to how the Steelers vary the use of Woodley and Harrison so that they’re not rushing the passer all the time like Ware is.
Some of the surprising names in the Top 10 include two would-be free agents. We’ve already mentioned Charles Johnson (who had been bringing the heat in a situational fashion long before he was given the starting nod), but how about Matt Roth for a team in need of a veteran pass rusher? He didn’t have the best finish to 2010, looking a tad overused, but as a Dolphin and Brown he has always got pressure and thus earned his ninth place finish. That’s ahead of outside linebackers like Clay Matthews (12th), Elvis Dumervil (16th) and Brian Orakpo (20th). Here’s the three-year Top 20:
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Now what about the guys who continue to be given opportunities but aren’t able to take them? Well Robert Geathers is no surprise at the number one spot, and it shouldn’t shock anyone to see two Falcons in the Bottom 10 in the form of Jamaal Anderson (second) and Chauncey Davis (10th). Both men are good run defenders (Anderson especially so) who don’t get many opportunities in pass rushing situations. The same you cannot say of every down rusher Chris Kelsay in Buffalo.
One of the more interesting names on the list is that of Raheem Brock. As you’ll have noticed, a far slimmer Brock in Seattle finished in the Top 20 for 2010, so why did he struggle so much as a Colt? It would seem you could put this down to two things (which offer hope for Keyunta Dawson), in that losing the aforementioned weight made him more dynamic, and moving out of Indianapolis gave him some pass rushing opportunities in obvious passing situations. As a Colt, he was left inside at tackle so Freeney and Mathis could feast on the edge, while as a Seahawk he’s allowed to partake in some of the pass rushing bounty himself.
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So there you have our look at pass rushing from the edge over the past three years. It’s hard to argue that some players reputations aren’t better than their actual performance, while other performances don’t get the credit they are due.
Tune in on Wednesday when we’re going to take the same formula and premise and apply it to the interior linemen, with equally interesting results.
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