Pass Rushing Productivity: Team Defenses

Rick Drummond takes a team-by-team and unit-by-unit look at pass rush around the NFL, using PFF's Pass Rushing Productivity Signature Stat as the foundation.

| 4 years ago

Pass Rushing Productivity: Team Defenses

2013-WK12-PRP-team-DSeeing the Chiefs suddenly lose their bookend rushers last weekend, thoughts of replacing production sprung to mind and with them, questions of where the league’s most potent — and efficient — pass rushes are generated. Naturally, turning to PFF’s Signature Stats made sense.

Over the past few years we’ve offered up looks into the various Signature Stats that have helped make a subscription to our Premium Statistics a must-have for football fans, members of the media, player agents and team executives alike. What we haven’t done was step back to get sight of those numbers on a team-wide level. Today we do.

Featuring one of our most popular Sig Stats, Pass Rushing Productivity, we’ll not only show the numbers for every team’s full defense, but we’ve broken it down by position groups as well to see which units have been the most efficient in coming after the quarterback and how they rate when all stacked up. This effort serves to set even the playing field, comparing teams favoring base 3-4 fronts to each other and doing the same for their 4-3 brothers.

For a refresher, Pass Rushing Productivity (PRP) is built from a formula that sets pressure numbers in context, factoring in pass rushing attempts and weighing sacks heavier than hits and hurries. The formula:

((sacks + .75 * (hits + hurries)) / pass rushing snaps) * 100

Let’s start with the unit-by-unit looks before wrapping up with PRP’s for the complete defensive teams at the end. Up first, the D-lines.

* note – ‘pass rush snaps’ in these tables represent sums of player-snaps as opposed to team pass defense totals.  

4-3 Defensive Lines

Here’s where Seattle’s offseason investments come into play. You won’t find their defensive line leading in any category, but they’re near the top across the board and their unit-wide PRP of 10.19 is head and shoulders above the rest. Their depth provides an unceasing barrage of fresh legs and adds up to set the pass-rushing mark for all other D-lines to shoot for. Detroit (marked by Ndamukong Suh’s effort on the inside and Willie Young’s on the edge) and St. Louis (fueled by Robert Quinn’s insane pace) fill out the Top 3.

Team Pass Rush Snaps Sacks Hits Hurries Total Pressure PRP
SEA 1561 27 42 134 203 10.19
DET 1792 19 39 150 208 8.97
SL 1587 32 42 102 176 8.82
MIA 1707 28 36 126 190 8.76
CAR 1679 25 45 111 181 8.46
CIN 1793 30 42 114 186 8.20
DEN 1745 25 29 122 176 7.92
TEN 1480 21 21 102 144 7.65
MIN 1887 20 27 135 182 7.50
avg 1667.0 21.6 32.4 103.5 157.5 7.41
DAL 1948 24 33 123 180 7.24
NYG 1785 17 44 101 162 7.04
NE 1759 30 30 94 154 6.99
OAK 1530 14 36 86 136 6.90
TB 1644 15 36 88 139 6.57
JAX 1525 13 32 84 129 6.56
CHI 1466 13 18 87 118 6.26
ATL 1470 17 15 78 110 5.90


3-4 Defensive Lines

Much like Seattle’s standout showing among the 4-3 D-lines, Houston’s PRP shames all other 3-4 units, but unlike the committee approach the Seahawks employ, the Texans are, of course, carried by a central force – J.J. Watt. Watt’s 60 total pressures double the next best on the Houston roster, though Antonio Smith is enjoying a fine year as well. The Saints’ resurgent front leads the next tier in this group as Cameron Jordan cements himself among the league’s best (given, by shifting alignment, New Orleans has set him up to do much of his damage from a 40-front look). Philadelphia’s Fletcher Cox has helped push their D-line to the top in hurries and total pressures.

Team Pass Rush Snaps Sacks Hits Hurries Total Pressure PRP
HST 877 21 30 59 110 10.01
NO 1124 19 22 64 105 7.43
SF 972 10 14 66 90 7.20
PHI 1248 11 20 82 113 7.01
BUF 1025 13 20 54 87 6.68
ARZ 1180 13 26 61 100 6.63
avg 1002.3 11.9 15.7 53.8 81.3 6.38
IND 974 8 15 56 79 6.29
NYJ 1019 16 12 50 78 6.13
PIT 950 10 11 51 72 5.95
GB 872 10 9 46 65 5.88
KC 1002 9 5 59 73 5.69
BLT 824 11 10 37 58 5.61
CLV 1072 11 17 45 73 5.36
SD 962 10 13 36 59 4.86
WAS 934 6 11 41 58 4.82


4-3 Linebackers

Lavonte David‘s impact on the Tampa Bay blitz game is seen here — leading the team to a league-high PRP among 4-3 LB units, David has racked up 23 total pressures on just 77 opportunities. The only player ahead of him (with 31 total pressures) is Von Miller, the one-man hybrid defense who — in the five games back from his suspension — has come after the QB 159 times. The Denver-Oakland connection via Head Coach Dennis Allen bleeds over to see the Raiders leading the group in sending their linebackers most often with Nick Roach coming more times than any MLB/ILB and Sio Moore (113) and Kevin Burnett (94) two of the four most frequent blitzers among 4-3 OLBs.

Team Pass Rush Snaps Sacks Hits Hurries Total Pressure PRP
TB 194 11 8 25 44 18.43
NE 167 5 5 24 34 16.02
CAR 119 6 2 15 23 15.76
DEN 300 8 9 41 58 15.17
MIN 148 4 7 17 28 14.86
OAK 311 12 9 36 57 14.71
JAX 68 3 3 6 12 14.34
TEN 257 5 9 33 47 14.20
avg 172.1 4.9 5.5 19.1 29.5 13.58
SEA 211 6 7 21 34 12.80
MIA 205 2 9 23 34 12.68
CIN 189 6 6 17 29 12.30
DAL 91 2 3 9 14 12.09
CHI 114 6 4 6 16 11.84
ATL 193 4 4 20 28 11.40
SL 118 2 2 11 15 9.96
NYG 161 0 1 19 20 9.32
DET 79 1 6 2 9 8.86


3-4 Linebackers

Providing the edge rush for their teams, the outside linebackers in this group can be the foundation of a defense. In Kansas City’s case, the recently fallen Tamba HaliJustin Houston pairing has not only led them to the high mark of 150 total pressures for this group, but to the best PRP as well — Chief LBs have turned in a 13.99 mark on 845 combined chances. The duo of Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs leads the Ravens to the top in sacks and hits, while San Francisco – with Aldon Smith settling back in opposite Ahmad Brooks – fits in second in PRP. Along with SF, Buffalo and New Orleans show in the Top 5 in both the 3-4 LB list and that for the 3-4 DLs.

Team Pass Rush Snaps Sacks Hits Hurries Total Pressure PRP
KC 845 23 21 106 150 13.99
SF 769 20 21 75 116 11.96
BLT 961 26 33 84 143 11.84
BUF 783 23 14 73 110 11.27
NO 555 16 17 44 77 11.13
IND 755 24 13 67 104 11.13
WAS 789 20 18 71 109 10.99
avg 817.7 17.7 19.0 69.7 106.4 10.30
ARZ 987 17 29 79 125 9.93
PIT 713 10 23 58 91 9.92
SD 816 17 13 68 98 9.53
HST 702 11 18 53 82 9.15
GB 893 19 13 69 101 9.01
CLV 929 15 17 73 105 8.88
NYJ 804 14 16 57 87 8.55
PHI 965 11 19 68 98 7.90


Click to Page 2 to see the league’s use of blitzing DBs and full team PRP’s…

  • LightsOut85

    I see you DID note that this is just adding up player totals, but….wouldn’t it be more helpful to see “team totals”. (It would just require a bit more work on your part). I’ve always wondered why there wasn’t a counter-part to the OL PBP in the signature stats section. That is, something with just the number of pass-snaps FACED and the amount of pressure brought. I think that would paint a better picture of who’s putting the most pressure on opposing QBs. (This just shows you who has the best pass-rushing units, not the final product).

    Ideally I’d like to see it broken down by total (snaps faced + all pressures) and by “defensive line” — in quotes because a 3-4 D would include any OLB who rushed to — to show who brings the most pressure when not-blitzing. (On the total-list you could list number of times blitzing to find a blitz-%).

    • TheHardRightEdge

      Here’s another thought.

      It’s known that some sack masters have a knack for forcing fumbles. Derrick Thomas is just one name that leaps to mind at the moment.

      A sack resulting in a FF is worth 2x or 3x a sack without one, and there is a highly valuable skill involved in the process. Whether the fumble results in a turnover is a function of the luck of the bounce, but a certain percentage will be recovered by the defense granting the sack + FF a very high value.

      Why not break those out with an appropriate multiplier?

      • LightsOut85

        You could pull that off with data at-hand already (since we have sacks & other sites list FF – and if you don’t trust them to have all come on sacks, you can look up free play-by-play too which would tell you). I just wish PFF would read these comments more. (And if they say to ask on Facebook or Twitter – I have, & I never get answers. They seem to only answer fluff-questions). I pay them money so I don’t think it’s out of line for them to upload stats they only have listed on articles (like 3rd/4th down pass-rushing..STILL not up), let ALONE even respond when I ask if they ever plan to add certain items. Random: They also recently REMOVED “runs” from the QB under pressure section….WTH is up with that? (not like that 1 column took up so much room).

  • TheHardRightEdge

    By what strange logic is a hurry scored as equal to a hit? And by what stranger logic is either worth 3/4 of sack? The drive killing nature of sacks makes them very valuable. Hits get points for psychological impact plus the hurry affect. The value of a hurry without a hit is questionable to begin with; granting it near-sack value is unjustifiable.

    A hit is worth maybe 0.55 x sack. Feeling generous at the moment, I’d give a hurry at most 0.40 x sack. I would be interested to know the league-wide passer rating over some meaningful number of weeks for plays where you’ve recorded a hit vs. plays where you’ve recorded a hurry.

    • LightsOut85

      As far as hit=hurry, I believe they’ve said the outcome of passes that happened “after” a hurry or hit are statistically equal (that is, they affect the chances of a negative play happening equally).

      • TheHardRightEdge

        Then they should calculate the passer rating of the NEXT pass following a hit vs. a examine the sub-concussive affects of a hit.

        • LightsOut85

          I’d say there’s too many variables. Different QBs handle pressure differently, the difficulty of different routes , whether or not there is pressure on the following play, etc etc. The only thing we can say for sure (regarding what a hit has over a hurry), is that a hit has the potential to physically harm the QB & get him out of the game.

  • TheHardRightEdge

    Here’s a 3rd. thought…why not count “holds against”? While not having as much drive killing value or turnover potential of a sack since there’s no loss of down, the -10 yards is very valuable, certainly of more value than a typical hurry.

    • LightsOut85

      I agree, this would be great. I’m sure it’s taken into account with their pass-rush grades (as is time take , whether it’s unblocked, etc), but since the grades are so vague/secretive, this would let us see things in a more concrete manner (ie: you could say a guy get a pressure/BP/hold-call on ___% of the plays and guy#2 gets it 3% less of the time, while with grades you can only say “his grade is 5 points higher than this other guy” & that’s fairly meaningless other than knowing A>B.

      I might even argue that while on a small-scale context-adjusting is a good thing (time, blocked, etc), but since a player can’t really control what situations he faces (or what OL/schedule) on a multi-year time scale, simple hard numbers would be just as effective as describing who gets the most pressure.

      • RickDrummond

        THRE & LO85, lots of good suggestions/thoughts in here. Appreciate you taking the time to offer them up. Certainly many more layers that could be considered in future looks at the subject.

        • LightsOut85

          Not to sound “ungrateful” (you do offer a lot that other places don’t), but you said “future looks at the subject”…as if paying & non-paying members would only be able to get mentioned-data in article-form, and I think that’s unfair. The point of paying is to have an “all-access” pass.

          I’ve been given answers that you don’t want to overcrowd pages (with columns upon columns) or that it takes time physically change/update pages — I understand that, I really do. But for instance, in your first few years you did articles on 3rd/4th-down pass-rushing, but haven’t touched on it since nor put any of it in the premium section. I believe this is a situation (as with the team-PRP I mentioned earlier) where the data could be very enlightening.** (That what people could get out of it compared to the effort it takes to include them (since that data’s obviously already being tracked/kept).

          **It provided a neutralizing field from which to view PRP – taking away the inequality of non-obvious passing downs where some DE “play the run 1st” while others just aim for the QB all the time (arguably giving them a big advantage) – such as Justin Tuck scoring quite well in this specific view, while looking only mediocre on the whole (since he “plays the run” on run-downs).

      • TheHardRightEdge

        LightsOut – I would not assume anything is taken into account unless it is explicitly stated to be. One can imagine a black box to be anything, but it can only be one thing.

        • LightsOut85

          That sounds like you don’t trust the grades at all then? (Since they ARE fairly secretive about them – so we don’t know much). I’m not sure about holds but I do know that time & presence of a block ARE taken into account. They definitely have stated this.

  • Leo Miranda

    Hey, NYJ has 2 sacks with DB (not 0), Landry and Allen have 1 sack each one. You have to correct this information.

    • RickDrummond

      Hey Leo, responded to your email. Thanks for the note.

  • TheHardRightEdge

    Here’s a fourth thought…account for passes defended.

    A tipped ball is likely more valuable than either a hit or a hurry since the tip likely results in a completion less often and an interception more often.