Here at Pro Football Focus we have a wealth of Signature Stats that give a more thorough view than traditional box score stats. These range from telling you how much of a running back’s yardage came after contact, and how many missed tackles they were able to force, to our Pass Rushing Productivity Rating, which measures how much pressure a pass rusher has produced as opposed to looking purely at sacks.
Like all stats, these do have their limitations, which is why we always recommend our player grades as giving the best picture of player performance available, with every player graded on every play, in every game. However, using our Signature Stats allows us to dial into a specific part of a player’s game and give an insight into what they’re good at.
Today we’re going to take a look at which defensive backs had the highest Run Stop Percentage in 2013, providing their teams with some additional help against the run beyond their front seven and measuring how often they make tackles resulting in defensive stops.
Cornerbacks – The Top Five
Former Oakland Raider, and new Washington Redskins cornerback, Tracy Porter, leads the way here, but his lead could have been even higher were it not for some sloppy play. Despite having the highest RSP amongst cornerbacks, Porter ranked just 32nd at his position in terms of his grade against the run. That’s because he also missed five tackles against the run, tied for the most of the five players listed above with Trumaine Johnson, who also saw a tumble down to 39th in terms of grade against the run in this regard.
Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers cornerbacks, Lardarius Webb and William Gay, ranked in the Top 5 both in RSP and in their grades against the run, missing fewer tackles in the process. It’s not much of a surprise to see them both having success here, though, with both grading positively against the run every year since entering the league in 2009 and 2007, respectively. Also in the Top 5 we have the Arizona Cardinals’ talented rookie Tyrann Mathieu, who took to his role in the slot with ease, excelling both against the run and in coverage before injury cut short his impressive rookie year.
Safeties (All Plays) – The Top Five
There are two ways in which we look at safeties and we’ll start with all plays regardless of where they line up on the field. In this regard, it’s the Houston Texans’ D.J. Swearinger leading the way but, like Porter at cornerback, he saw his overall grade against the run take a big hit with eight missed tackles. That’s something that can be improved upon, though, and if it does we could see an impressive second season from him.
It won’t surprise anyone to see T.J. Ward in the Top 5, with his grade against the run the best at the position in 2013. That led to a move to the Denver Broncos in free agency and it would be a surprise to not see another strong season from him in 2014.
Of the rest of the Top 5 (or Top 6, in this case) only Ryan Mundy doesn’t feature on our second list, with the former New York Giants, and new Chicago Bears safety having a solid year against the run. He’ll represent a big improvement at the position in his new home, with the Bears’ starting duo of Chris Conte and Major Wright grading at -13.5 and -15.1 against the run, respectively.
Safeties (Within 8 Yards of Line of Scrimmage) – The Top Five
When looking at where a safety lines up, we consider any safety who is within 8 yards of the line of scrimmage at the snap to be a strong safety. That allows us to filter these snaps and get a better look at how safeties perform when they are in a better position to make a play against the run. Detroit Lions fans will be pleased to see new addition James Ihedigbo lead the way here, with the former Baltimore Ravens safety finishing the year with 19 tackles which resulted in defensive stops on running plays.
Tampa Bay’s Mark Barron had his struggles in coverage, but he was more solid against the run, making a tackle which resulted in a defensive stop on 10.9% of the plays where he was lined up at strong safety, and 6.7% of all plays against the run. Morgan Burnett and Andrew Sendejo also feature on both lists, with a couple of standout performances from each against the run throughout 2013.
It’s Michael Griffin of the Tennessee Titans who rounds out the Top 5, making a tackle for a stop on 10.0% of running plays where he lined up with 8 yards of the line of scrimmage.
All of our Signature Stats are included in our PFF Premium Package, which also includes the grades for each player from every game starting with preseason in August and running on through to the Super Bowl in February.
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