Yesterday we showed you which defensive tackles and nose tackles were leading the way in our Signature Stat: Run Stop Percentage. A number designed to shed light on a player’s impact against the run, this stat shows which defenders were responsible for the most defensive stops relative to how much they were on the field in run defense. After addressing the interior guys, it’s only natural that we bump outside one spot and follow it up with the guys playing defensive end in a 3-4 alignment.
The nature of this group means there are far fewer people to talk about, with only 23 making the cut of having played at least 150 snaps in run defense (not including plays nullified by penalties). As always, a defensive stop is deemed as being one where the offense is unable to obtain 40% of required yardage on first down, 60% of required yardage on second down, or all of the required yardage on third or fourth down.
Simple enough? Let’s get to it.
Good for Something
When the Kansas City Chiefs selected Tyson Jackson with the third overall pick of the 2009 draft, they didn’t exactly get an immediate return on their investment. In fact, as a rookie, Jackson had one of the worst years you’re likely to see from any defensive player. He didn’t make defensive stops, got no pressure, and you get the sense he would have been benched early in the season but for his draft stock. Year 2 saw him miss time injured before bouncing back with a slightly below average year, but nothing to suggest he’d then turn into one of the premier run-defending 3-4 ends in the league as he did in 2011.
A testament to coaching and patience, Jackson led all 3-4 ends by registering a defensive stop on 10.6% of all running plays he was in for–no mean feat since only the Cardinals’ defensive ends played more snaps in this regard than him. The Chiefs don’t get much pass rush from their 5-techniques, but with Glenn Dorsey in sixth place on this list, you get an idea of what both men bring to the table. Maybe you want more from Top 5 picks, but they’re getting something from them.
Watt You Talking About, PFF?
Just behind Jackson was the Houston Texans’ rookie left end, J.J. Watt, who picked up an impressive 27 defensive stops on 264 running plays. What makes Watt’s tally so remarkable is that he did it without neglecting his responsibilities as a pass rusher, showing the kind of non-stop motor and discipline combo that teams love. It’s fair to say it’s something that Antonio Smith could do to replicate, given his tendency to have eyes only for getting upfield.
Watt isn’t the only rookie in the Top 5, with the New York Jets’ Muhammad Wilkerson coming in fifth. Like the Chiefs’ defensive ends (and like his teammate Mike Devito who finished fourth), Wilkerson didn’t “wow” when it came to getting pressure, but if the Jets can re-sign Sione Pouha, they will return as fearsome a front three as there is in the league when it comes to shutting down the run.
The third rookie to play the minimum number of snaps in run defense didn’t have quite the same level of success. In fact, he ranked dead last. San Diego Charger fans will know who I’m talking about after a largely anonymous rookie season from Corey Liuget who picked up a defensive stop on just 2.5% of plays he was in on. As is normally the case, when you’re finishing below Ziggy Hood (second-lowest percentage of defensive stops) you’ve done something horribly wrong.
2011 Run Stop Percentage: 3-4 Defensive Ends
|Rank||Name||Team||Run Snaps||Tackles||Assists||Missed Tackles||Stops||Stop %|
|16||Marcus R. Spears||DAL||173||12||2||0||10||5.8|
|18||Antonio D. Smith||HST||219||10||4||0||10||4.6|
There is more to playing the run than picking up defensive stops–that’s what our grading is for. But rather than just glancing at tackle totals to see which defensive ends are making the biggest impact against the run, our Run Stop Percentage really shows which players are getting the job done considering how much they actually play. It’s just one of a number of features available when you subscribe to PFF Premium.