Three Years of Pass Rushing Productivity: Interior D-Line

| 5 years ago

Three Years of Pass Rushing Productivity: Interior D-Line

Yesterday, we kicked off our three-year look back at our Signature Stats by tucking into our first ever Signature Stat: Pass Rushing Productivity.

It’s a way of determining the most productive pass rushers (as the name implies), looking past total sack numbers to examine the entire amount of pressure a player gets and on how many pass rushes it comes. By weighing hits and hurries as worth 75% of a sack, dividing by the number of times a player rushes the quarterback and then multiplying by 100 you get a shiny, nice number.

We started with edge rushers, so logically we’re going to turn our attention to those playing closer to center, by breaking down defensive tackles, nose tackles, and 3-4 defensive ends. To make the list you needed to have rushed the passer at least 600 times over the past three years, leaving us with 70 brave warriors to dissect. Let’s get to it.


Iron Men

So which player has rushed the passer more than any other? 49er fans won’t be surprised to hear the name of Justin Smith called, with the former Bengal rushing the passer 1,592 times in the regular season over three years. To put that in perspective, only Jared Allen has rushed the QB more from any spot. That’s quite incredible when you consider the size and motor (has anyone ever seen Smith take a play off?) of the man who finished second in our Top 101 players of 2011.

Behind Smith there’s a tie between Kevin Williams and Darnell Dockett who both rushed the quarterback 1,503 times, while the Texans’ Antonio Smith and Cardinals’ Calais Campbell round out the Top five. Just after them, despite being released and limited to a rotational role in Chicago, Amobi Okoye rushed the passer the sixth-most of any interior linemen. That should give you an indication of how overused he was in Houston.


PositionNameTeamPass Rush Snaps
1Justin SmithSF1592
2Darnell DockettARZ1503
3Kevin WilliamsMIN1503
4Antonio D. SmithHST1490
5Calais CampbellARZ1435
6Amobi OkoyeTB1321
7Jay RatliffDAL1314
8Jonathan BabineauxATL1250
9Vince WilforkNE1236
10Ray McDonaldSF1223


Total Pressure

It won’t be all that much of a surprise that after leading his peers in pass rushing snaps Smith also leads them in total pressure. With 187 combined sacks, hits, and hurries, Smith has 21 more than the man in second place. That man is Antonio Smith who, it should be mentioned, spent his 2009 and 2010 seasons playing as a defensive end in the Texans’ base package, which does give him something of an advantage. It also speaks volumes for his versatility that he managed to pick up so much pressure playing a variety of positions. The gap between the Smith’s to those in third and fourth place is quite substantial, with the Cardinals’ duo of Dockett and Campbell at 127 and 122 QB disruptions, respectively. Eagles defensive tackle and former Packers defensive end, Cullen Jenkins, rounds out the Top 5 with 113.


PositionNameTeamPass Rush SnapsTotal Pressure
1Justin SmithSF1592187
2Antonio D. SmithHST1490166
3Darnell DockettARZ1503127
4Calais CampbellARZ1435122
5Cullen JenkinsPHI1114113
6Richard SeymourOAK1212109
7Kevin WilliamsMIN1503108
8Jonathan BabineauxATL125097
9Tommy KellyOAK120593
10Amobi OkoyeTB132191


Pass Rush Productivity

So we know who rushed the passer most often, and who picked up the most pressure. Now the question becomes who was the most productive on a per-play basis? Well, making it a clean sweep of things, Justin Smith was the top dog, while Geno Atkins led defensive tackles after posting 80 combined sacks, hits, and hurries on 727 pass rushes. Not bad for a player who didn’t start until this year. While the usual suspects (Antonio Smith and Cullen Jenkins) find themselves in the Top 10, there are some others that may surprise. Jason Hatcher is fifth, while Wallace Gilberry is one spot behind him and there’s even an appearance from the vaunted Albert Haynesworth in the eighth spot.


PositionNameTeamPass Rush SnapsTotal PressurePRP
1Justin SmithSF15921879.16
2Geno AtkinsCIN727808.70
3Antonio D. SmithHST14901668.62
4Cullen JenkinsPHI11141138.01
5Jason HatcherDAL617607.62
6Wallace GilberryTB776737.54
7Shaun RogersNYG708697.49
8Albert HaynesworthFA618587.28
9Richard SeymourOAK12121097.08
10Vonnie HollidayARZ646587.04
11Cory ReddingIND852756.90
12Tony BrownTEN698616.88
13Calais CampbellARZ14351226.79
14Darnell DockettARZ15031276.60
15Kendall LangfordSTL864746.57
16Henry MeltonCHI678566.56
17Jason D. JonesSEA948786.46
18Kyle D. WilliamsBUF898736.35
19Shaun EllisFA929726.16
20Tommy KellyOAK1205936.12


Meanwhile, things don’t tend to look so good when you are focused on Aubrayo Franklin, Tyson Jackson, or Casey Hampton. All three are primarily known for their run stopping (which is especially the case with Franklin and Hampton), but their lack of ability to make plays in the passing game is increasingly interesting as teams use more receiver sets that force nickel packages onto the field. That’s part of the reason why a run-plugger like Franklin has found such a soft market for his services the past two years in free agency. Of all the players near the bottom, the biggest concerns would be Vince Wilfork and Ziggy Hood, with Wilfork’s ridiculously high snap count (1,236 pass rushes) not helping him. Both men tend to play in the nickel packages, and it may be something that changes in the coming year.


PositionNameTeamPass Rush SnapsTotal PressurePRP
1Aubrayo FranklinSF641111.37
2Tyson JacksonKC613172.16
3Casey HamptonPIT663202.41
4Roy MillerTB614202.57
5Ryan McBeanBAL695262.95
6Glenn DorseyKC1134442.98
7Vince WilforkNE1236483.01
8Justin BannanDEN730303.12
9Ziggy HoodPIT1036443.31
10Isaac SopoagaSF680293.31


As a loyal Pro Football Focus reader you know that numbers do not tell the whole story. So, if you’re looking at pure statistical analysis then it doesn’t get more accurate than our PRP Signature Stat. If you’re looking for something with a bit more context, then we’d recommend our Premium Analysis Package, which takes into account how the pressure came about to really examine pass rushers.

Check back tomorrow when we break down the linebackers.


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  • Mjoedgaard

    With Richard Seymour rushing the passer so well for Oakland, it seems the Patriots was a little to quick to get rid of him consider they havnt been able to replace him

    • Antonio Moltisanti

      The pick the Raiders gave the Pats for Seymour turned into Jerod Mayo. Well worth the trade.

  • Sam Monson

    To an extent. I don’t think they expected him to drop-off in terms of play, but I think they were happy to sacrifice that ability for the first round pick and not having to pay him big money. Make of that what you will, but I don’t think they’re surprised he’s still been very good in Oakland.