Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features

CoxMar15.jpg

» Varsity Numbers: Honing in

Bill Connelly again looks at which college football teams the F/+ ratings are sure about, and which teams remain a mystery (led by Appalachian State).

24 May 2011

Most Run Defeats 2010

by Aaron Schatz

Time to continue our series presenting various 2010 stats from the multitude of Football Outsiders spreadsheets. Last week, I took a look at the players with the most Defeats -- important, drive-changing (or ending) plays on defense. This week, I want to separate that out and look at the best players in both Run Defeats and Pass Defeats. We'll do Run Defeats first.

In the discussion thread for that last article, there was some question about whether a high total of Defeats necessarily meant a good defense. I think it suggests a good defensive player, but no, a high total of Defeats doesn't necessarily indicate a good defense. Arizona led the league with 81 Run Defeats, and ranked 30th in run defense DVOA. On the other hand, lots of Defeats do not necessarily indicate a bad defense either. Tennessee was second with 80 Run Defeats, and ranked third in run defense DVOA.

Obviously, there are plenty of successful defensive plays which don't meet the standards to be counted as "Defeats." It's good to stop the opposing running back for just one or two yards on first-and-10, even if that does count as a positive gain. However, we have that as another stat: Stops. Stops represent any play that stops the offense short of our definition of success. We can look at players through both total Stops and Stops per play, a.k.a. Stop Rate. We'll do that next week. But Stops aren't really "game-changing" plays. They're generally run-of-the-mill plays.

Another reason why a high total of Run Defeats doesn't necessarily mean a great run defense: the fact that teams don't run as much against great run defenses. Pittsburgh was 30th in the league with only 45 total Run Defeats last year, but Steelers opponents only ran the ball 315 times, last in the league.

Here's an interesting look at which teams had the highest and lowest percentage of run plays that counted as Defeats. These are the only eight teams which were more than one standard deviation away from the mean (15.2 percent). In case you are wondering, overall Run Defeats leader Arizona is at 16.8 percent, while run defense DVOA leader Pittsburgh is at 14.3 percent.

Team Runs Dft Pct x Team Run Dft Pct
CHI 349 71 20.3% x GB 380 48 12.6%
PHI 385 75 19.5% x BUF 535 62 11.6%
OAK 428 77 18.0% x KC 382 44 11.5%
JAC 378 68 18.0% x CLE 477 42 8.8%

Obviously, it's odd to see a Super Bowl champion there, but we all know that run-stopping is not the strength of the Green Bay defense. Cleveland and Buffalo make more sense at the bottom of this list, as they were 31st and 32nd in both Adjusted Line Yards and percentage of runs stuffed at the line.

Below, I've listed all players with at least 10 Run Defeats in 2010. For additional reference, I've also listed each player's total of Run Stops and Run Plays, plus Pass Defeats so you can get an idea of total Defeats for those players who were not listed in last week's piece.

Player Team Pos Run
Dfts
Run
Stops
Run
Plays
Pass
Dfts
x Player Team Pos Run
Dfts
Run
Stops
Run
Plays
Pass
Dfts
52-C.Greenway MIN OLB 18 55 77 10 x 77-M.Shaughnessy OAK DE 12 39 47 7
59-L.Fletcher WAS ILB 17 55 95 10 x 92-W.Witherspoon TEN OLB 12 38 48 14
55-K.Morrison JAC MLB 15 51 70 4 x 55-L.Briggs CHI OLB 12 33 39 16
52-Da.Smith JAC OLB 15 37 54 20 x 61-D.Landri CAR DT 12 30 40 4
58-T.Cole PHI DE 15 37 48 11 x 33-T.Branch OAK SAF 12 29 61 10
94-L.Timmons PIT ILB 14 64 82 15 x 55-D.Connor CAR MLB 12 27 39 1
50-J.Anderson CAR OLB 14 55 83 16 x 57-M.Haggan DEN ILB 11 51 72 7
54-B.Urlacher CHI ILB 14 42 63 13 x 95-K.Williams BUF DT 11 50 65 10
54-G.Hayes TB OLB 14 36 44 15 x 93-C.Campbell ARI DE 11 40 51 8
55-J.Laurinaitis STL MLB 13 53 74 10 x 56-B.Cushing HOU OLB 11 38 54 7
92-J.Harrison PIT OLB 13 50 59 18 x 52-J.Hunter DEN OLB 11 37 53 5
52-J.Beason CAR OLB 13 49 83 11 x 90-N.Suh DET DT 11 36 43 18
91-J.Tuck NYG DE 13 46 54 20 x 94-D.Ware DAL OLB 11 32 35 20
55-R.McClain OAK MLB 13 44 60 9 x 93-K.Williams MIN DT 11 25 33 6
91-C.Wake MIA OLB 13 26 34 19 x 91-J.Jones TEN DT 11 22 27 7
55-S.Tulloch TEN MLB 12 66 98 13 x 51-P.Posluszny BUF ILB 10 53 107 11
51-P.Lenon ARI ILB 12 57 86 13 x 56-E.Henderson MIN MLB 10 53 81 8
52-R.Lewis BAL ILB 12 57 80 11 x 51-J.Vilma NO MLB 10 52 75 14
56-B.James DAL ILB 12 55 78 5 x 94-J.Smith SF DE 10 42 55 10
70-M.Devito NYJ DE 12 47 57 2 x 90-J.Peppers CHI DE 10 34 42 13
50-C.Lofton ATL MLB 12 43 70 10 x 24-A.Wilson ARI SAF 10 32 52 7
56-D.Johnson KC ILB 12 42 72 12 x 93-J.Babin TEN DE 10 28 36 14
55-T.Suggs BAL OLB 12 41 48 12 x 91-A.Okoye HOU DT 10 25 39 3

The highest total for Run Defeats by a cornerback was nine, by Charles Woodson and Ronde Barber. No big shocker with those names.

For those curious about past years, recent leaders in run Defeats included DeAndre Levy in 2009, Trent Cole in 2008, and Lance Briggs in 2007.

Later this week, I'll run some numbers on pass Defeats, and then we'll run numbers on Stop Rates.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 24 May 2011

29 comments, Last at 30 May 2011, 11:29am by allybhoy

Comments

1
by JasonK :: Tue, 05/24/2011 - 4:15pm

"The highest total for Run Defeats was nine, by Charles Woodson and Ronde Barber."

This sentence is missing the word "Cornerback" in there somewhere.

3
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 05/24/2011 - 4:44pm

I would be curious to know exactly how many of the last ten years or so you could just paste that sentence in for. To be fair, Cover-2 corners are going to get a lot more tackling opportunities based on scheme, but Barber and Woodson have been particularly solid tacklers even considering that.

5
by Arkaein :: Tue, 05/24/2011 - 7:35pm

GB doesn't play Cover-2. GB has played multiple zone coverages over the past few seasons, but the CBs routinely drop deep.

Woodson is a bit of a special case though, as he lines up regularly in the slot and blitzes a lot, so he has more opportunities against the run than even some Cover-2 CBs.

6
by Theo :: Tue, 05/24/2011 - 9:24pm

True, I like to see the number on this, but he's often on the slot or blitzing.
And somehow they get him in position well.

19
by Sander :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 11:38am

I think it has more to do with both cornerbacks being in the slot on nickel downs, but also being on the field as outside corners on regular downs. Both Barber and Woodson are used as versatile defenders and not simply as cornerbacks, as they're asked to blitz and play as an extra linebacker against the run.

Neither team really runs predominantly Cover 2, either. You'd have to look to the Bears and Colts for that.

2
by AnonymousA (not verified) :: Tue, 05/24/2011 - 4:44pm

So if run defeats don't mean you have a good run defense, and percentage of defeats don't mean you have a good run defense, why does number of defeats for an individual player mean he was a good run defender? What if other teams love to run at him, because he's terrible, so he racks up defeats occasionally? Percentage seems no better -- coaches might only put a player in for specific situations, which might correlate with defeats.

I'm not actually sure what this number measures other than "times a game charter wrote 'defeat' next to someone's name."

4
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 05/24/2011 - 4:48pm

This is not a game charting statistic. It's taken from play-by-play.

8
by IAmJoe (not verified) :: Tue, 05/24/2011 - 11:17pm

If you look at the previous article on 2010 Defeats leaders:

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:
1) causes a turnover
2) causes a loss of yardage
3) stops conversion on third or fourth down

So that's what defeats are. They're not a subjective game charting judgement call, they're pretty black and white. Basically, they boil down to a "big play" beyond a run of the mill tackle. As mentioned above, "Stops" (i.e. a tackle for 1 yard gain on 1st down) are a different statistic, that are more common, less-impactful.

If a guy is not good, and so other teams are running right at him, I'd imagine this would show up in terms of Defeat%. He'll make some plays on accident, but mostly just get torn up. His 1 Defeat on 100 attempts should stick out. Defeat% shouldn't get messed up too bad, as long as you're looking at decent sample sizes. A special teamer or rotational guy might get lucky and get 2 Defeats on 2 plays, but that doesn't mean he's going to get 100 Defeats on 100 plays. That's why you always set a minimum number of attempts, to keep those sort of statistical anomalies out of your data.

9
by tuluse :: Tue, 05/24/2011 - 11:27pm

I think you could argue this for just about any stat. What does a sack tell you other than the offense allowed the defender to get the QB?

22
by JonFrum :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 7:13pm

I almost took you seriously. Sorry.

7
by number66 :: Tue, 05/24/2011 - 11:07pm

A little surprised Levy led the league according to your data in 2009. People claimed he played well against the run. By well I thought they meant better then the average Lions linebacker, not top of the league well though. Trent Cole's ability against the run IMO is another thing that gets overlooked when people ask the question who's the best DEs in the NFL.

15
by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 9:53am

When you say, "your data," I assume you are addressing the official NFL play-by-play?

21
by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 5:40pm

It's FO's metric, though. How they compile the data is theirs.

10
by bengt (not verified) :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 5:13am

Just wanted to draw attention to the fact that Lawrence Timmons did have a stop on 20.3% of his team's total run plays.

11
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 8:34am

I'm curious about how important a single defeat is on a drive. I remember seeing a stat, I can't remember where (I *think* it was probably on a game broadcast) that showed how often a team scored on drives when it had a sack and drives it had a penalty. I seem to remember its conclusion basically being "having a sack or offensive penalty reduces the chance of a scoring drive", but the degree of it was pretty striking.

Curious if you could run some sort of correlation for this, and include defeats? Is that sort of thing possible? I know it'd have pretty big flaws, because I imagine it would be difficult to manage for starting point of the drive, but I would be interested to see say:

Scoring percentage (TD and/or FG) of drives without a sack, penalty or defeat
Scoring percentage of drives with a sack
Scoring percentage of drives with a penalty
Scoring percentage of drives with a defeat (or 1, 2, 3 defeats etc.)

I'd be curious to see how much a single good play from a defence can help to derail a whole drive.

I'm also curious if there's more value to 3rd and 4th down defeats, than to 1st and 2nd down ones? Some kinds of defeats (pick, fumble, 4th down stop) are obviously more valuable than forcing a 1 yard loss on 1st down - is there any way to quantify that?

12
by Anonymous (Not Verified) (not verified) :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 8:47am

Without some form of defeat, wouldn't the scoring percentage be near 100% (not 100% because of series where the clock runs out for the half or end of game)

13
by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 9:15am

You could also fail to score on a simple incompletion or a missed field goal.

17
by Anders Jensen (not verified) :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 10:04am

If you run 3 times for 3 yards on each carry, that lead to no defeats, but you will end 1 yard short for 1st down.

18
by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 10:49am

Actually, the tackle on a three-yard gain on third-and-4 would count as a Defeat because it prevented a conversion.

16
by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 9:56am

This is an interesting question, Podge. It would put these stats in a very meaningful context. Do certain varieties of defeats (like sacks) make more of a difference than others (like a stuffed run play)?

23
by AlanSP :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 7:17pm

Well, obviously some defeats are more valuable than others in that forcing a turnover is nearly always more valuable than a negative yardage play.

Within the category of negative yardage plays, as with sacks vs. stuffed runs, whether there's a difference depends on what you mean. On average, sacks are almost certainly more valuable than stuffed runs, because they result in more yards lost on average and have a greater chance of causing a fumble.

If the question is about whether the type of loss matters independent of the actual yardage lost (e.g. whether a 3-yard sack is more or less valuable than a 3-yard loss on a run), the answer is still probably yes because of the fumble issue, but if you only want to consider plays without a turnover, it's less clear.

24
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Thu, 05/26/2011 - 4:04am

I'd say though, that a stuffed run on 3rd-and-2 is a lot more valuable than a 5 yard sack on 3rd-and-17.

25
by chemical burn :: Thu, 05/26/2011 - 10:06am

Is it? A team might be tempted to take a risk on 4th and 2... but going for it on 4th and 22 is only an absolute desperation move. The stuff doesn't all but ensure a punt/change of possession, whereas the sack does - so it could be argued that the sack has more value. Certainly, field position, time in the game remaining and score are all factors. What about a 5 yard sack on third down that turns a 48 yard field goal into a 53 yard field goal? Versus the run-stuff down that keeps it a 48 yarder? In a tie game. With 4 seconds left. Which is more valuable then?

26
by Jerry :: Thu, 05/26/2011 - 6:38pm

Generally, there's a bigger difference between 4th and 2 and 1st and 10 than between 4th and 22 and 4th and 17.

27
by chemical burn :: Fri, 05/27/2011 - 4:27pm

Yeah, but a "generally" with 100 exceptions to the rule is exactly what this site is intended to combat...

28
by BigJohnson (not verified) :: Sat, 05/28/2011 - 5:58pm

the chances of converting on a 3rd and 2 are probably close to 45%. 4th and 2 are probably similar chances of converting. Assuming a team will go for it on 4th if they dont convert the 3rd they will get a first down on 69.75% of the drives.

the chances of converting on 3rd and 17 are probably close to 15%. The chances of converting a 4th and 22 are probably close to 10%. Assuming a team will go for it on 4th if they dont convert the 3rd they will get a first down on 23.5% of drives.

What this proves is that stopping a 3rd and 2 cuts out 24.75% and reduces the chances of converting on 4th to 45%. By stopping a 3rd and 17 it cuts out 13.5% and reduces the chances to 10%. I would make the argument that stopping someone on a 3rd and 2 as opposed to getting a 5 yard sack on a 3rd and 17 is close to twice as valuable.

My numbers are made up but I think they are pretty close to accurate. If anyone knows the numbers on the odds of converting these 4 situations please post them for more accurate analysis.

14
by Independent George :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 9:47am

I meant to post this in the comments to the Daryl Smith article, but this seemed just as appropriate.

Does anybody remember a FO article from many years ago, on tackles by DBs? The focus was specifically on Champ Bailey, but included several other DBs with lots of tackles, like Ronde Barber. I think it looked at things like number of plays defensed, success rate, average yard of tackles, etc. for run and pass. Anyway, I distinctly remember that in the discussions on the numbers, one name just kept popping up near the top of the list. At this point, none of us had ever heard of him - but there he was, again and again. Somebody commented on this, asking, "Who the hell is this A. Wilson guy anyway?"

I've tried searching the archives, but don't know the right terms - the article had to be before 2006 (when Wilson made his first pro bowl). Anyway, one of the things I love about FO is the way the numbers sometimes shake out a star in the making, before anybody else eve knows about it. I know the term "FO Favorites" has always been around (FREE ROCK CARTWRIGHT!), but I think we need a name for the specific phenomenon of identifying an excellent player on the cusp of stardom, whom nobody ever heard of because he plays on a bad/small market team.

The Adrian Wilson Effect just doesn't have the right ring to it. The Asomugha Moment? It's not quite accurate, though, because Asomugha led the league with 8 interceptions (but didn't make the pro bowl) the year before FO's eye-popping targets numbers started showing just how dominant he was. What other FO Favorites with cool names can we name it after?

20
by Shattenjager :: Wed, 05/25/2011 - 12:40pm

Isn't the one with the coolest name the aforementioned Rock Cartwright?

FO Rocks?

29
by allybhoy :: Mon, 05/30/2011 - 11:29am

Is mike devito the biggest "no name" on this list and is his run stopping ability the reason the Jets cut Jenkins?