Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

22 Jan 2010

Stat of the Day: Pass Tackles for Safeties

As part of our ongoing Stat of the Day series, we're digging deep into our spreadsheets to run a new stat every weekday until Super Bowl XLIV.

Yesterday, we ran numbers that showed which cornerbacks made the most tackles after complete passes, as well as the most successful tackles after complete passes. Today, we're running those same numbers for safeties. You can read yesterday's Stat of the Day for an explanation of where these stats come from. Safeties, of course, have fewer successful tackles (Stops) than cornerbacks.

Yesterday's Stat of the Day discussion thread seemed to have a lot of complaints that these stats are imperfect, that they don't include missed tackles or plays where a cornerback just plays good coverage. There were complaints that these numbers sometimes reflect a team's coverage scheme rather than player quality, or that a player could get a tackle because the receiver ran out of bounds and he happened to be the closest defender. Guess what: You're right! These stats are imperfect. They only tell part of the story. That doesn't make them uninteresting. We could stick to only writing about stats that account for all possible variables, but then the site would be blank.

Just remember that these stats come from play-by-play, not game charting. That doesn't mean they aren't subjective, but the subjectivity belongs to the official scorers of the 32 teams, not the FO game charting volunteers.

Top 10 SAF Making Plays on Complete Passes, 2009
Player Team Plays
27-J.Babineaux SEA 55
20-B.Dawkins DEN 54
38-D.Goldson SF 51
37-Y.Bell MIA 49
25-R.Nelson JAC 48
25-R.Clark PIT 46
26-A.Elam CLE 45
33-M.Griffin TEN 44
41-A.Bethea IND 44
31-B.Pollard HOU 43
27-Q.Mikell PHI 43
Top 10 SAF Making Stops on Complete Passes, 2009
Player Team Stops
37-Y.Bell MIA 14
27-Q.Mikell PHI 14
38-D.Goldson SF 11
32-M.Lewis SF 10
36-J.Leonhard NYJ 10
20-M.Adams CLE 10
38-D.Manning CHI 9
24-D.Grant SEA 9
Ten tied with 8
Top 10 SAF Stop Rate on Complete Passes, 2009
(min. 20 tackles after receptions)
Player Team Plays Stops Stop Rate
27-Q.Mikell PHI 43 14 33%
42-C.Crocker CIN 26 8 31%
24-A.Afalava CHI 23 7 30%
20-M.Adams CLE 33 10 30%
36-J.Leonhard NYJ 34 10 29%
37-Y.Bell MIA 49 14 29%
20-E.Reed BAL 29 8 28%
20-D.Whitner BUF 26 7 27%
35-V.Harris PHI 23 6 26%
37-R.Doughty WAS 27 7 26%
Bottom 10 SAF Stop Rate on Complete Passes, 2009
(min. 20 tackles after receptions)
Player Team Plays Stops Stop Rate
30-M.Brown KC 32 2 6%
20-M.Johnson NYG 29 2 7%
28-T.DeCoud ATL 27 2 7%
30-L.Landry WAS 37 3 8%
21-A.Rolle ARI 36 3 8%
36-N.Collins GB 22 2 9%
21-B.Pool CLE 21 2 10%
43-C.Dahl STL 29 3 10%
31-B.Meriweather NE 37 4 11%
33-M.Griffin TEN 44 5 11%

Sometime next week, we'll look at these stats for linebackers.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 22 Jan 2010

14 comments, Last at 25 Jan 2010, 7:05pm by The Other Ben Johnson

Comments

1
by Dean :: Fri, 01/22/2010 - 2:17pm

So for safeties with a high degree of plays, is that a sign that they're good at cleaning up after teammates mistakes? Or does it suggest that they're letting their man get open?

13
by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Sat, 01/23/2010 - 1:53pm

q

2
by ammek :: Fri, 01/22/2010 - 2:41pm

As with yesterday's stats, if there was a way to the count the number of snaps each defender played, it would be even better.

For instance, it would sum up Nick Collins' season perfectly. In more than 1000 snaps, he made only 22 tackles after a complete pass, largely because his coverage was good. However, the exception came on deep passes, where his gambling style didn't always pay off. Hence the low stop rate. He also had six picks, of course, which is a reasonable trade-off.

Compare that with someone like Michael Griffin, who was horrible in every facet of the game all year long, and you'll understand the expression "context is everything". In fact, one of the good things about this stat-a-day feature is reading the comments: knowledgeable fans helping provide the context to these interesting but otherwise abstract numbers.

3
by S :: Fri, 01/22/2010 - 2:54pm

Collins also plays the deep zone most often in coverage, and hence is making more plays down field.

4
by Brendan Scolari :: Fri, 01/22/2010 - 3:16pm

If you want to see the exact number of snaps every player has played, go to Pro Football Focus. They've got everybody's snap numbers (and you can look at gamelogs for who played which position for every down) and they rate every defender on pass coverage, pass rush, and run defense for each game. They also have #'s for defensive backs like completion % and yards per attempt, and presumably it is accurate. It's a great site.

9
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 01/22/2010 - 4:45pm

I don't feel like looking through again, but last time I checked, their stats didn't actually match up to anything. There were a lot of issues with the snaps being wrong.

(or, they were off from Mike Reiss's game charting stuff)

11
by Brendan Scolari :: Sat, 01/23/2010 - 4:18am

Interesting, their data has matched up when I've used it to cross-reference with games I've recorded onto the DVR> I certainly don't put a huge amount of stock into their player evaluations, but the game charting seems pretty legit in my experience.

5
by Anonymous2 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/22/2010 - 3:17pm

I find it interesting that the Colts have had players on both of the tackles list, with neither on the stops lists. Makes me wonder if IND could use some scheme adjustments...they are still notoriously bad in 3rd down conversion rate (except 3rd and long but mostly due to pass rush). I just find it curious that they are making so many tackles but not sacks.

6
by JasonG (not verified) :: Fri, 01/22/2010 - 3:39pm

Are there team numbers? As a Bears fan, enduring a revolving door at the safety position, it's interesting to see Manning and Afalava making a lot of stops, but since Payne and Steltz played, too, I wonder about the whole of their safety play. Also, Manning switches to DB in nickel packages. Do these numbers differentiate when he was a safety and when he was a DB? Probably not, right? It's also interesting to see that discarded fan favorite Mike Brown in KC ended up the worst in this metric.

10
by tuluse :: Fri, 01/22/2010 - 5:13pm

I was going to mention D Manning playing nickle. I believe our starting safeties at the beginning of year were Afalava and Payne, and Manning was playing nickle back exclusively. My memory could be faulty though.

Afalava reminds me of a possession receiver who has a 6th sense for where the first down marker is, but as a defender. I recall a couple plays where teams threw just short of the sticks, and it looks like the receiver just has to reach out to get the first, but Afalava was right there.

Also, Mike Brown was awesome, it's a shame he had to toil for such terrible teams or he might have been considered Bob Sanders level.

7
by Anonymous 3 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/22/2010 - 3:48pm

This was touched upon earlier, but I suspect that the stop rate is skewed somewhat by teams that tend to keep one safety close to the line and another in a deep zone. For instance, Collins, Rolle and Landry all tend to play a sort of "center field" position while big hitter types play close to the line. This can sometimes create a situation where, through no fault of their own, they're tackling someone well after the point where they'd qualify for a stop. Of course, Landry still got burned frequently despite almost always playing deep.

8
by Dice :: Fri, 01/22/2010 - 4:20pm

Interesting to see Doughty and Landry on the opposites. It confirms that Doughty allows catches but is better at making the tackle, while Landry does his best B Russ impression. At this point, all for Horton/Doughty at SS and Smoot at free.

14
by The Other Ben Johnson (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 7:05pm

Interesting. I know Landry was terrible this year from using my eyeballs, and I know that Doughty played smart and tough all year from the same set of eyeballs, but I'm wondering how much of this is Landry being improperly schemed for his strengths and weaknesses. He looked promising in his area 51 days where Sean Taylor's athleticism in coverage allowed him to key in on run support (maybe "promising" is a bit of a stretch, but aside from being cold-cocked by Brandon Jacobs--an understandable outcome for any young db--he was not nearly as glaringly awful as he was this year). Maybe the problem is he was asked to do too much outside of his natural tendencies due to being the most athletic guy in the secondary. I'm grasping at straws in order to set up a total non-debate, because again, I saw with my own eyes that he was awful this year, but I'm just wondering if there's any silver lining that keeps him out of "Total Bust" Territory rather than "Mere Disappointmentsville." I mean, it's just so so hard to see a team with that few draft picks use the few they have so poorly, while at the same time it's not like I'm confident in the last coaching staff's ability to correctly utilize their players within intelligent scheming.

12
by pouringlizards (not verified) :: Sat, 01/23/2010 - 8:17am

Interesting to see Quentin Mikell up there on Stops- the general consensus on his play was that he regressed this year. Guess it was actually the guys around him.