Over here at Team PFF, we’re steadfast in our belief in looking past the box scores to try and understand what is really happening in the NFL. In doing so, we’ve endeavored to create a set of statistics that help give context to what is happening with the football. That was the driving force behind the creation of our Signature Stats. Here we’ll delve into one of those stats to help explain how some defensive tackles really stood out in 2011.
We’re going to focus on our “Run Stop Percentage” for defensive tackles to give you an idea of which DTs running backs should be worried about most. The Run Stop % Signature Stat works in quite a simple fashion. It’s done by determining the amount of times a defender has caused an offensive failure as a percentage of how many plays he is in on run defense, excluding plays nullified by penalty. An offensive failure (a “stop” from the defense’s perspective) is a play that is unable to obtain 40% of required yardage on first down, 60% of required yardage on second down, or the entire required yardage on third or fourth.
Now that we’ve explained the system, let’s have a look and see which players who accrued at least 200 snaps in run defense are leading the way.
You Can’t Beat the Bunk
With the Eagles moving to a Wide-9 defensive line scheme, change was always going to be on the cards. In came big money signings like Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins, and it stood to reason that some players were going to have to leave. Brodrick Bunkley was that guy as the Eagles first failed to trade him to Cleveland before successfully offloading him to the Denver Broncos. Playing with a chip on his shoulder to some degree, Bunkley simply did what he has always done: wreak havoc against the run game. Featuring some stellar performances such as his incredible domination of Nick Mangold in Week 11, the former Eagle ended the year making 31 stops on 274 run snaps. That’s an outstanding 11.3% of all defensive plays he was involved in. That can’t have gone unnoticed with various teams ready to make a big splash in free agency on an impact defensive tackle.
The (Si)one and Only
Bunkley isn’t the only free agent whose performance stood out in this regard. The New York Jets’ Sione Pouha is primarily thought of as a facilitator who does his best work by putting others in a position to do theirs. Yet his stop percentage shows he’s more than just a block-eating zero-technique, demonstrating an ability to get off blocks and make plays. He finished second in Run Stop %, amassing the second highest number of stops of all DT’s (one fewer than Ahtyba Rubin), but doing so on 353 run snaps. It’s reason like this why the Jets are so keen to re-sign the versatile lineman.
The Rookie Revelation
Back in 2010, everyone was raving about how rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was able to get to the quarterback. Well, maybe it’s about time people started splitting some of their focus to look at what other defensive tackles can do in the run game. A great case in point would be the year that of Jurrell Casey had. The Tennessee Titans’ third round pick was a force in the middle for the Titans’ new, bigger defense, registering 30 defensive stops on 321 run D snaps. The next best rookie was all the way down in 20th, with Marcell Dareus picking up 22 defensive stop.
Run Stop %
If those players were the most impressive, then which of the 46 defensive/nose tackles who played at least 200 snaps in run defense should be hanging their heads in shame? Well, Green Bay Packer fans won’t be surprised to see B.J. Raji propping up the list after picking up just seven defensive stops on 291 snaps in run defense. Raji spent a significant amount of time playing end, and while apologists will attempt to say he was facing an inordinate amount of double teams, the simple truth is Raji had a terrible year after a far more impressive 2010 (picking up triple the amount of defensive stops).
Area for Improvement
A new Head Coach and General Manager combination in Indianapolis may have been preoccupied with the drama surrounding Peyton Manning and re-signing players like Pierre Garcon and Robert Mathis. They also have other things to worry about though. The Colts have continuously fielded defensive tackles who have struggled to make any sort of impact. This is highlighted by fielding two DTs in our bottom five, with Fili Moala and Antonio Johnson both scoring a 3.8 on the run stop % rating. The combined amount of stops, 21, was a mark surpassed by 20 other defensive tackles.
Run Stop %
There’s more to being a good run defender than just creating offensive failures. Nonetheless, its part of what makes certain defenses so effective, having interior linemen that can get off blocks and make plays on the ball carriers. The Run Stop Percentage will continue to champion these defenders and is one of the many Signature Stats that are updating on a weekly basis throughout the year. Sign up for the free sample statistics and see for yourself.