Day four of our look back at some of our Signature Statistics and we’re turning our attention to defensive backs as we bring you the final installment of our three year overview of Pass Rushing Productivity data. If you’ve missed what we’ve done with edge rushers, interior defensive linemen and linebackers, then click on the links and catch up. For this piece we’re focusing on those blitzing backs who are more famed for their coverage, but capable of making big plays rushing the quarterback, nonetheless.
For those not familiar with our PRP stat, it goes beyond just looking at sacks, instead adding a new level of context by analyzing total pressure and looking at how many times a player rushes the passer. Hits and hurries are valued at three quarters the worth of sacks, all of those numbers are added up and then divide by the number of rushes before being multiplied by 100 to give the PRP rating.
Now let’s look at those 34 defensive backs who over the last three years have rushed the quarterback at least 75 times.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that has read our linebackers article, that the most blitzed defensive back over the past three years belongs to the New Orleans Saints. Gregg Williams’ love of blitzing is epitomized by the 291 attempts by Roman Harper to get to the quarterback. That number is 47 more than the man in second place, Adrian Wilson, and 81 more than what Charles Woodson and Eric Wright have managed. Wright isn’t the only player from a Rex Ryan defense to make the Top 10, with Jim Leonhard, despite having missed time with a broken leg in 2010 and a knee injury in 2011, is sixth overall with 144 blitzes.
When you break it down to look at which defensive backs spend the largest percentage of their passing plays blitzing, it’s again a case of reinforcing what we know about the New York Jets and what Rex Ryan likes to do on defense. Wright leads the way having blitzed on 20.11% of passing plays over three years, while there are appearances by Donald Strickland and former Jet James Ihedigbo. You also get a further idea of how much Gregg Williams loved to send Roman Harper, with the Saints’ safety rushing the passer on 17.4% of all passing plays.
When you start looking at pressure numbers, it’s again a case of focusing initially on Harper, with the Saint having more than twice as many combined sacks, hits, and hurries than any other defensive back. His total of 43 is 24 more than O.J. Atogwe, LaRon Landry and Chris Crocker managed in putting themselves in second place. Also in the Top 5 is Charles Woodson, who it may surprise some to know has only picked up 16 sacks, hits, and hurries over the past three years with his role as a blitzer somewhat overplayed.
Pass Rushing Productivity
Putting all these numbers together we can look at the most productive pass rushing defensive backs in the league. While Roman Harper may lead the league in total pressure, he’s only good for seventh when you start breaking down just how often he rushes the passer. Instead it’s Chris Crocker who leads the way, consistently getting pressure despite only being afforded 75 opportunities to blitz. He was quite a bit ahead of LaRon Landry in second, something Rex Ryan is likely to take full advantage of if he can get him healthy (torn Achillies in 2011) and on the field. Landry was marginally in front of third place O.J. Atogwe while James Ihedigbo and Jordan Babineaux rounded out the Top 5.
If they’re the best, then what about the players who have struggled to make much of an impact when blitzing? Eagles fans will likely be more surprised that Joselio Hanson rushed the passer 83 times than the fact he only produced two pressures on those attempts. The biggest surprise in the Bottom 5 is none other than Adrian Wilson. At one time he could have been viewed as a safety sack specialist, but he has now dropped off the pace in that regard while the rest of his game has improved. Our second-highest ranked safety last year (No. 70 in our Top 100 Players for 2011) finished with the fourth-lowest PRP score.
So that’s it for our look back at three years worth of Pass Rushing Productivity. We’ve added some numbers to what our eyes already tell in regards to which coaches like to blitz their defensive players, and tried to eradicate some myths in regards to other players. Feel free to get in touch with us on Twitter (see below) if further info is required, but otherwise tune in tomorrow when our Signature Stat roadshow moves on.