"Last team with the ball wins" is a cliche, but sometimes cliches are the best way to get across the central narrative of an important game. If you like great quarterback play, you have to watch the NFC Championship Game.
18 May 2011
by Aaron Schatz
So, here we are in May. The lockout is still going, and there's nothing to write about for the offseason. So let's go back to last year, shall we? It occured to me that Football Outsiders has a ton of stats sitting around in various spreadsheets, waiting to get attention. Some of them are available on our player pages, and some of them will show up in Football Outsiders Almanac 2011, but I figured it would be fun information to just toss out some top 20s and top 25s and other lists of these various non-standard stats.
The first list I wanted to post was for defenders with the most Defeats. Defeats are defined as any play (tackle, assist, pass defensed, interception, or forced fumble) that does one of three things:
Most of the names at the top of the stat sheet for Defeats are not much of a surprise. You've got your league-leading pass rushers (Justin Tuck, Cameron Wake, DeMarcus Ware). You've got your playmaking linebackers who range all over the field (James Harrison, London Fletcher, Brian Urlacher). You've got your gambling cornerbacks, the guys who often get targeted on third down and sometimes will make the play (DeAngelo Hall, Nate Clements). And you've got Ndamukong Suh, who is sui generis, but he's no surprise, because he's Ndamukong Suh. Suh was tied for seventh with 29 Defeats this year. The only other defensive tackle over 20 Defeats was Kyle Williams, who had 21. To find another defensive tackle with this many Defeats, we have to go back to Warren Sapp in 2000. Ndamukong Suh is special. Not a surprise.
However, the player who is number one for 2010 Defeats is probably a big surprise, and I thought he deserved a little more explanation than just having his name on top of a list. He's Daryl Smith, the strongside linebacker for the Jacksonville Jaguars. This is a bit of a shock for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Daryl Smith is a fairly unknown, anonymous player who takes the field for the NFL's most unknown, anonymous team. That team happened to finish dead last in defensive DVOA last year. You might think that Smith built up big numbers because Jacksonville, as a bad defense, faced a ton of offensive plays -- except that the opposite is true. Jacksonville has 745 plays in the Individual Defensive Stats database, the third-fewest in the league for 2010.
Jacksonville had a lot of trouble making big plays last year, but when somebody was making a big play, more often than not that somebody was Daryl Smith. That was especially true when the Jaguars actually managed to make a stop on third down. Smith didn't have a lot of picks (one), sacks (four), or forced fumbles (one). He built his Defeats total with an uncanny ability to make stops on third down. He got both tackles when the Jaguars stuffed Marion Barber on third-and-goal and then fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line back in Week 8. In Week 13, he had two assists on plays where Chris Johnson was stopped one yard short on third down. Smith also had nine tackles where he stopped a receiver after a completion but before a third-down conversion. For example, in Week 16, he tackled Chris Cooley after a 10-yard gain on third-and-13, and then Anthony Armstrong after a 12-yard gain on another third-and-13.
Although we should celebrate Smith's big year, it was probably a bit of a fluke. Smith had only two other seasons with more than 20 Defeats: 24 in 2006 (when he was playing in the middle, not on the outside) and 27 in 2009. You can actually find that out by going to his Football Outsiders player page. This is a good chance to remind everyone that all kinds of advanced defensive stats, including Defeats, can be found on the Football Outsiders player pages. Everyone gets to see 2008-2010, and Premium subscribers get stats going all the way back to 1997 (soon to be 1996).
Here's a list of all players with at least 25 Defeats in 2010.
No safeties were over 25 last year; Deon Grant of the Giants led safeties with 24 Defeats.
Sometime next week, I'll post expanded lists of Defeats split into Run Defeats and Pass Defeats.
34 comments, Last at 27 Jul 2011, 5:34am by z1949g