Pass Rushing Productivity, Edge Rushers

Considering hits and hurries along with sacks, this Signature Stat rates pass rushers on a per-snap basis and Khaled Elsayed presents 2013's best coming off the edge.

| 3 years ago

Pass Rushing Productivity, Edge Rushers

2013-PRP-ERNumbers without context are just random numbers.

Dealing with that was what led us to the formation of the Pro Football Focus Signature Stats, aiming to provide a level of context that means a player isn’t judged on what he has done on 1.4% of his snaps and instead looking at the whole picture.

It will never be as comprehensive as our grading, but if stats and numbers are your thing, then this is the Holy Grail. The first of these #PFFSigStats we created way back after the 2008 season was what is now known as Pass Rushing Productivity. The idea a simple one. Don’t ignore sacks, but don’t make it the only judge of how a pass rusher is playing.

Instead, we’re looking at hits and hurries and perhaps more importantly adding the context of how many times a player rushed the passer. After all, 14 may be a bigger number than 10, but what if Player A needed 700 snaps to get 14 sacks and Player B needed just 200?

Below is a breakdown of how the edge rushers performed, so that’s 3-4 outside linebackers, 4-3 defensive ends and selected 4-3 outside linebackers who all rushed the passer at least 200 times.

A Change of Scenery

If you ask most Indianapolis Colts fans what they think about Jerry Hughes you’re likely to hear the word “bust” come up at some point. Drafted with the 31st selection of the 2010 NFL draft he would go onto play 873 snaps three years before he was swapped for Kelvin Sheppard. In that period he notched 32 quarterback disruptions as he gave Ryan Grigson little reason to keep him around.

2013-PRP-quinn-insetBut taking full advantage of a scheme that chiefly had him on the field for the Bills’ nickel or dime defense, and that let him concentrate on just rushing the passer, he excelled and finished the year with the highest Pass Rushing Productivity score of any edge rusher after he bested his three-year total with 39 quarterback disruptions in one year on 305 pass rushes. The challenge for him is to build on this as we’ve seen guys produce one fantastic year and then revert to type the following year (think Aaron Maybin) but it’s hugely encouraging for the Bills and player himself to succeed.

Of course, as good as he was, he does have certain advantages in being a sub-package player. Others have a more varied role which include more responsibilities against the run and so it’s worth acknowledging that Robert Quinn led the way with 91 combined sacks, hits and hurries on 477 pass rushes to top the every-down defenders.

Quinn had a breakout year that correlated with him finishing the season our top ranked 4-3 defensive end and No. 2 in our Defensive Player of the Year stakes. Quite the achievement from quite the player.

Here are the Top 10 edge rushers from 2013 by PRP:

Rank Name Team Pass Rush Snaps Total Pressure PRP
1 Jerry Hughes BUF 305 59 15.4
2 Robert Quinn SL 477 91 15.3
3 Aldon Smith SF 289 55 15.1
3 Elvis Dumervil BLT 319 61 15.1
3 Justin Houston KC 332 59 14.1
6 Cameron Wake MIA 397 71 14.0
7 Michael Bennett SEA 379 65 13.5
8 Von Miller DEN 234 38 12.8
9 Tamba Hali KC 500 77 12.2
10 Greg Hardy CAR 536 82 12.1


Quiet Year for Rookies

2013-PRP-jordan-insetIt makes it a lot easier to write this paragraph when a rookie stands out for the pressure he consistently gets only this year there was no Von Miller or Aldon Smith who took the league by storm in Year 1, with the highest rookie finishing 41st in terms of productivity. That man was Dion Jordan and he only just qualified after rushing the passer 201 times as he was limited to an obvious passing down role.

Indeed the rookies generally struggled with Jarvis Jones finishing in the bottom 11, marginally behind a player like Barkevious Mingo who failed to set the world alight in his first campaign. Teams paid a premium for these guys and the production just wasn’t there, so expect either a big leap forward in year two or a whole heap of pressure placed on their shoulders come the end of the year.

The Need to Improve

Of course not everyone had a great year and nowhere more so than in Jacksonville which is why going QB at 3 might not be the slam dunk it appears if there isn’t a player on the board they like. While you can somewhat mitigate for Tyson Alualu finishing dead last given the scheme the Jags employ make him anything but a traditional 4-3 defensive end, it is worrying to see pass rush specialist Andre Branch finish in the Bottom 10. Jason Babin (who would finish 24th out of 77) isn’t getting any younger and the team needs to find our develop the kind of edge rusher who can make life hard for the opposing QB.

It’s a similar story in Tampa Bay where Daniel Te’o Nesheim earned the third-lowest score of the year and former first round pick Adrian Clayborn could only finish 60th. It’s great for the team to have an interior force like Gerald McCoy and they’re blessed with elite players at cornerback (Darrelle Revis) and linebacker (Lavonte David) but the defense sorely needs some edge rush.

Here are the Bottom 10:

Rank Name Team Pass Rush Snaps Total Pressure PRP
1 Tyson Alualu JAX 348 20 4.5
2 Jason Hunter OAK 346 22 5.1
3 Daniel Te’o-Nesheim TB 312 24 5.8
4 Courtney Upshaw BLT 208 26 6.0
5 Eugene Sims SL 219 19 6.1
5 Ropati Pitoitua TEN 249 27 6.1
7 Matt Shaughnessy ARZ 340 27 6.2
8 Mathias Kiwanuka NYG 505 43 6.7
9 Andre Branch JAX 354 20 6.8
9 Thomas Keiser SD 238 30 6.8


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled

  • Robert Bass

    Suggs disappears way too much to be paid like a top 10 pass rusher

    • 5aiah

      Tell me about it. He better take a pay cut. Watching him in the second half of the season was like looking at air in a jar.

      • TheeLidman

        I don’t watch Baltimore. However, the past 2 years the guy lining up opposite Suggs has had a solid pass rushing year. I can understand you both wondering what this guy is doing, to earn his money (which might need adjusting), but maybe his presence is creating opportunities for others to see 1 on 1 blocking schemes?
        That’s really what happened with Maybin, and the NYJ. His first year there, teams simply treated him like they did in Buffalo. Ryan just turned him loose, upfield, understanding the NYJ secondary gave the DL extra time to get there. Maybin’s pressures largely resulted from being able to blindly rush the passer and, to his credit, never assuming he was out of the play. His second year, teams adjusted and identified him as the primary pass rusher, any time he was on the field. So, while his effort was the same, he simply was a 1 trick pony who was easily game planned against.
        So, my question is: with Suggs, has his own decreased production coincided with a decrease for Baltimore, as a team? Or, are the Ravens still a productive pass rushing team? If it’s the prior, then yes, he’s being overpaid. If it’s the latter, than his indirect effect would appear to still be instrumental to their team success.

        • 5aiah

          No, he has Doom on the other side and no one is getting to the QB. Suggs just isn’t the same player he used to be before the injury and PFF grading showed him to be overrated the year he won DPOY and as someone who watches them all year every year I agreed.