Sig. Stat Snapshot: Tackling Efficiency, DBs

Cornerbacks and safeties man the margin layer of defense and operating in that space means any faulty tackling could lead to major damage. Which DBs are getting the job done ...

| 5 years ago

Sig. Stat Snapshot: Tackling Efficiency, DBs

Tackling is not the main requirement of defensive backs as most teams value their coverage skills more in today’s NFL. Still, a cornerback or safety who can tackle is invaluable as they can often mean the difference between an average gain and a big one. With that in mind, we present to you an in-season look at how the DBs are showing in our Tackling Efficiency Signature Stat. The number is figured by taking total tackle attempts and dividing by missed tackles (expressed in tackles per miss) and provides a comparative tool for evaluating tackling ability.

Keep in mind when looking at these numbers, the player’s tackle attempts relative to his total snaps. Having few attempts in many snaps can be just as bad as missing tackles. This means that the player isn’t getting involved in many plays and speaks just as much to his impact in the running/passing game.

So who is sticking their nose in there and bringing the ball-carrier down? Let’s look at notable performers at both cornerback and safety.

Note: The cutoff through eight weeks was set at 200 total snaps.


Complete Corner

An article talking about cornerbacks and tackling has to mention the Vikings’ Antoine Winfield. At 35 years of age, Winfield is having one of the finest seasons of his career. What he does at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds is nothing short of miraculous. He has more stops than any other secondary player this year and more tackles than any other corner. When he has played in the slot this season (nearly two-thirds of the time) he has shown a linebacker-like effectiveness. Winfield proves that tackling isn’t about size, it’s about form and desire.

49er Tackling Machines

The best tackling tandem at corner this season resides in San Francisco. Tarrell Brown and Carlos Rogers have combined to miss one tackle on 50 attemps for a mindboggling Tackling Efficiency of 50.0 tackles per miss. They have been a big reason why the 49ers’ defense is giving up the fewest yards per game. They haven’t given up extra yards after the catch with missed tackles and it has shown. Cornerbacks that can tackle and cover are considered a luxury and one that it appears San Francisco has in spades.

A Familiar Name

Anyone that has ever seen an attempted tackle from Asante Samuel should not be surprised by his ranking. Samuel has been dead last in Tackling Efficiency twice in the last three years and don’t be surprised if he ends up there again. The one thing that can be said for his play this year, though, is that he seems to be a little more eager to attempt tackles, but that has only led to him missing more (10 already). When teaching corners how to tackle, only two players need be shown. One is Antoine Winfield, the other Asante Samuel.

Top 10 cornerbacks:

#NameTeamTotal SnapsTotal TacklesTotal AssistsTotal MissesTackling Efficiency
1Sean SmithMIA4813000n/a
1Casey HaywardGB2832250n/a
1Carlos RogersSF4662040n/a
1Antonio CromartieNYJ5051920n/a
1Alfonzo DennardNE2091200n/a
6Terence NewmanCIN394412144.0
7Ryan MoutonTEN336304135.0
8Corey WebsterNYG478283132.0
9Charles TillmanCHI384273131.0
10Tarell BrownSF466290130.0

Bottom 10 cornerbacks:

#NameTeamTotal SnapsTotal TacklesTotal AssistsTotal MissesTackling Efficiency
78Captain MunnerlynCAR33716254.6
79Michael HuffOAK31612654.6
80Aaron WilliamsBUF32712244.5
81Brandon McDonaldTB20217464.5
82Jimmy SmithBLT32720064.3
83Brice McCainHST26410034.3
84E.J. BiggersTB23612144.3
85Jacob LaceyDET24811144.0
86Tracy PorterDEN28514273.3
87Asante SamuelATL425181102.9



Free Safeties Can Tackle

Usually when a team has a safety who is also a talented tackler, they tend to play them closer to the line in order to utilize that skillset. Seven of the Top 10 tackling safeties spend more than 15% of their plays lined up within 8 yards of the line of scrimmage. Three exceptions to this are Rahim Moore, Chris Conte, and Jairus Byrd. Moore, Conte and Byrd play in the box just 10, 13, and 15 percent of the time, respectively, yet all have shown strong tackling skills. Byrd has been in the Top 10 in tackling efficiency the last two years as well, while Moore has seriously stepped up his performance this year — turning his 2011 tackling efficiency (3.9 with 10 missed tackles) into the No. 2 efficiency number (25.5) at this point in 2012. A very impressive jump for the second-year pro.

A ‘Down’ Year

When it comes to Tackling Efficiency Danieal Manning isn’t having quite the season he has had in the past. He currently ranks 18th amongst all safeties with a Tackling Efficiency of 14.5. Some safeties would be happy with this production, but not Manning, who has proven himself to be the best tackling safety in the league over the last few years. Since he took over as a starter in 2009 he has ranked third, fourth, and first in Tackling Efficiency, never missing more than three tackles in a season or having his Tackling Efficiency dip below 25.0. Those numbers are truly impressive and why his 2012 figures qualify as a ‘down’ year.

Panther Problem

Most teams are able to get away with having their free safety be a poor tackler, but when you use a safety in the box as much as the Panthers use Charles Godfrey, he needs to be a solid tackler. So far Grodfrey has played over 30% of his snaps within 8 yards and that percentage jumps to 43% when the opposition runs the ball. Panthers fans must be used to it by now, though, as he was little better last season with a Tackling Efficiency of 5.7.

Top 10 safeties:

#NameTeamTotal SnapsTotal TacklesTotal AssistsTotal MissesTackling Efficiency
1Dawan LandryJAX4903812226.0
2Rahim MooreDEN4593910225.5
3T.J. WardCLV562373221.0
4Chris ConteCHI428337221.0
5Abram ElamKC282182121.0
6Jairus ByrdBUF4032710219.5
7Kam ChancellorSEA509459319.0
8Glover QuinHST395324219.0
9Dwight LoweryJAX341162119.0
10Reshad JonesMIA493305218.5

Bottom 10 safeties:

#NameTeamTotal SnapsTotal TacklesTotal AssistsTotal MissesTackling Efficiency
58Erik ColemanDET24520465.0
59Chris ProsinskiJAX20212035.0
60Malcolm JenkinsNO491454134.8
61Donte WhitnerSF46927794.8
62Gerald SensabaughDAL32112344.8
63Michael GriffinTEN543448144.7
64Charles GodfreyCAR452337114.6
65Ryan MundyPIT25320164.5
66Thomas DeCoudATL432342114.3
67Robert JohnsonTEN2246252.6


Follow Mike on Twitter: @PFF_MikeRenner

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

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