Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

23 May 2012

2011 Defeats

by Aaron Schatz

More today from our many, many spreadsheets of stats from the 2011 season. Today, we'll look at which defenders had the most Defeats in 2011. 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

Almost every sack is a Defeat, so it is no surprise that Jared Allen, with his 22-sack season, led the NFL with 33 Defeats in 2011. Jason Pierre-Paul was second with 32, and Derrick Johnson and Terrell Suggs tied for third with 31.

Johnson was the top player in Defeats who was not a pass rusher. He had a mix of all kinds of plays: seven tackles for loss on runs, two sacks, five passes defensed on third down including two picks, and a number of tackles that stopped the opponent short of a third-down conversion. Johnson had 19 Defeats on third or fourth down, which tied for the league lead with Paul Posluszny and Troy Polamalu.

Here's a list of all players with at least 25 Defeats in 2011:

Most Defensive Defeats, 2011
Player Team Pos Defeats
69-J.Allen MIN DE 33
90-J.Pierre-Paul NYG DE 32
56-D.Johnson KC ILB 31
55-T.Suggs BAL OLB 31
55-J.Laurinaitis STL ILB 30
58-D.Washington ARI ILB 30
58-V.Miller DEN OLB 29
93-C.Campbell ARI DE 28
51-P.Posluszny JAC ILB 28
94-D.Ware DAL OLB 28
53-N.Bowman SF ILB 27
52-D.Jackson CLE ILB 27
50-N.Barnett BUF ILB 26
55-L.Briggs CHI OLB 26
91-C.Clemons SEA DE 26
94-M.Kiwanuka NYG OLB 26
43-T.Polamalu PIT SAF 26
56-S.Weatherspoon ATL OLB 26

Weirdly, no player had exactly 25 Defeats last year. The top safeties other than Troy Polamalu were Kam Chancellor (24) and Eric Weddle (22). Brandon Flowers and Nate Clements tied for the lead among cornerbacks with 22 Defeats each. Nate Clements? Yep, he had nine passes defensed on third down including two picks, five tackles for a loss (one of which was a sack), two forced fumbles, and a few tackles after complete passes that prevented a conversion. This shows that a) Nate Clements made more big plays than you realized last year and b) If you had only one stat to represent the best defensive players in the league, you would not use Defeats.

Geno Atkins and Cullen Jenkins tied for the lead among defensive tackles at 19 Defeats. Ndamukong Suh had 29 Defeats in 2010, the most by any defensive tackle in a decade. That was down to 15 last year, third among defensive tackles.

Daryl Smith, who led the league in Defeats in 2010, was down to 21 last year. That's still a lot, but it doesn't match the 35 he put up the year before. His Defeats were down in part because Posluszny was making a lot of those plays. You can find a list of the 2010 leaders in Defeats here.

In case anyone is wondering about "percent of total team defeats," everyone who had at least 16 percent of team Defeats is also on the table above, and ranking based on percent of team Defeats doesn't change things much.

Looking at pass plays and run plays split up:

Most Pass Defeats, 2011
Player Team Pos Defeats
94-D.Ware DAL OLB 24
69-J.Allen MIN DE 23
58-V.Miller DEN OLB 21
55-T.Suggs BAL OLB 21
93-J.Babin PHI DE 20
30-D.Coleman JAC CB 20
51-P.Posluszny JAC ILB 20
25-R.Sherman SEA CB 20
93-C.Campbell ARI DE 19
90-J.Pierre-Paul NYG DE 19
22-C.Rogers SF CB 19
Most Run Defeats, 2011
Player Team Pos Defeats
56-D.Johnson KC ILB 20
53-K.Conner IND OLB 19
94-M.Kiwanuka NYG OLB 17
52-D.Jackson CLE ILB 16
55-J.Laurinaitis STL ILB 15
51-P.Angerer IND ILB 14
55-L.Briggs CHI OLB 14
51-J.Mayo NE OLB 14
51-J.Mays DEN ILB 14

Kavell Conner! I bet you didn't see that one coming. The 2010 seventh-round pick led the league with 13 run tackles for a loss. He made his average run tackle after a gain of just 2.1 yards, more than a yard closer than any other Colts linebacker. Mathias Kiwanuka was second with 12 run tackles for loss, and Charles Johnson of Carolina was third with 11.

By the way, can I just complain about how annoying it is to have to make sure we keep 51-J.Mayo and 51-J.Mays separated, especially in the game charting?

Finally, two more tables: The percentage of total Plays by a defender that counted as Defeats. These lists have a minimum of 25 total Plays. One of the leaders on the "lowest percentage" table is a bit of a surprise. The leaders on the "highest percentage" table are all pass rushers, which is not much of a surprise.

Highest Percentage of Plays as Defeats, 2011
Player Team Pos Plays Dfts Pct
90-J.Peppers CHI DE 40 23 58%
93-J.Babin PHI DE 41 23 56%
94-A.Smith HOU DE 27 15 56%
91-D.Bowers TB DE 29 16 55%
95-M.Anderson NE DE 29 16 55%
99-Ald.Smith SF OLB 39 21 54%
91-C.Long STL DE 38 20 53%
55-J.Abraham ATL DE 37 19 51%
95-C.Johnson CAR DE 44 22 50%
92-C.Avril DET DE 38 19 50%
Lowest Percentage of Plays as Defeats, 2011
Player Team Pos Plays Dfts Pct
90-I.Sopoaga SF DT 30 0 0%
25-Ty.Johnson MIN SAF 26 0 0%
24-D.Gomes WAS SAF 31 1 3%
46-C.Harris CHI SAF 31 1 3%
92-E.Mitchell HOU DT 28 1 4%
31-S.Brown NE SAF 27 1 4%
24-C.Hope TEN SAF 26 1 4%
53-G.Jones NYG ILB 25 1 4%
28-Q.Carter DEN SAF 49 2 4%
49-R.Johnson ARI SAF 43 2 5%

Wait a minute, I know Isaac Sopoaga's role is to soak up blockers, not to penetrate into the backfield, but still... he had no Defeats in 2011? Yes, that's correct. Isaac Sopoaga did not make a single tackle behind the line of scrimmage last year. He had no sacks and no passes defensed; his only pass play was hustling upfield to get a tackle on a five-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald. Sopoaga did have six Defeats in 2010 when he was a defensive end rather than a nose tackle.

Usually, this is where I say you can get all the data on the player pages, but right now you can't, unfortunately. I apologize for the fact that these stats are not yet fully updated for 2011 on our player pages; we've had some technical issues we're trying to straighten out. I'll make sure I left everyone know when those player pages are finally updated.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 23 May 2012

34 comments, Last at 30 May 2012, 11:50pm by erniecohen

Comments

1
by Independent George :: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 11:44am

Does anybody else think that Polamalu's defeats are actually starting to hurt the Steelers' defense? The last couple years, it seems like he's been selling out to make the big play more and more, and leaving gaping holes in the defense as a result. It works out against the weaker teams who can't exploit it, but strong offenses like the Patriots seem to shred the Steelers with regularity by attacking the void Polamalu leaves behind. I've loved Polamalu in the past, but I think his freelancing is quickly becoming a liability.

3
by drobviousso :: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 12:02pm

That's been Troys MO since he started. The difference is that the other 10 guys on the Steelers D where about as good as an above average 11 man team. With the defense ageing, and the new guys not being quite as good as Smith, Farrior, etc, it is becoming more noticeable.

5
by Ben Stuplisberger :: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 12:11pm

Not to argue against your main point, but to nitpick a little, the Patriots did not do too much shredding of Pitt last year:

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/201110300pit.htm

Don't you think if Polamalu's whiffing outweighed his big plays, he would be coached to play differently?

10
by Independent George :: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 1:56pm

Fair point about NE - I was thinking of the 2010 game, plus the Super Bowl loss to GB; the defense as a whole was great, but Polamalu got exploited badly in those two games in particular.

Now that I think about it, wasn't the 2011 gameplan against NE to leave two deep safeties and play press coverage against the receivers? That kind of implies your second point - he was indeed coached to play differently in the rematch. As a general matter, though, coaches have a long history of not rocking the boat with a respected veteran, even if it no longer works the way it used to. For example, there was the jeans model under Mike Sherman.

16
by CaffeineMan :: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 4:24pm

Yes, the 2011 gameplan by the Steelers was quite different than in the past, which surprised the Pats a lot. But wasn't Polamalu out or playing hurt that game? Not to say that your point isn't correct. In the past, when healthy, I think the Pats were able to take advantage of Polamalu's aggressiveness.

20
by Jerry :: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 11:14pm

At the end of 2010 (including SB XLV), Polamalu was playing with an injured Achilles. When he's healthy, he still makes amazing plays, and the overall quality of the Steeler defense suggests that he's not a liability.

34
by erniecohen :: Wed, 05/30/2012 - 11:50pm

PIT's defense doesn't work like that. Most of the plays where it looks like Polamalu is freelancing, he's either disguising something that's part of the called play or he's exercising a defensive option, to which other players are supposed to react to compensate. I'd say his bigger issue the last few years (beyond just being out of the lineup) is that he's started to miss tackles.

2
by IU Fan (not verified) :: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 11:46am

I know this is probably to much context for this article, but how many of Conner's and Angerer's Defeats were on obvious run plays when the other team was up by multiple scores and trying to run out the clock?

4
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 12:05pm

Interesting question, but also quite the rabbit hole. After all, there are guys from the Rams and Browns on the list too. The reverse question could also be asked re: guys on teams up big facing obvious passing plays.

Anyway, my $0.02 is that a higher percentage of Angerer's plays are more likely to be "real" than Conner's. That's just a guess on my part, based on my belief that Angerer is the better player.

6
by Joseph :: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 1:00pm

And here I thought you were going to mention that ILB Jones for the Giants was the only ILB on the fewest defeats list.
RE: comments #2 & #4, if Angerer & Conner for IND were getting tackles for loss on obvious run plays in the 4th Q, that's still a good play (thus DEFEAT). That means that the opponent is more likely to have to punt, giving the Colts a chance to come back (oops, if they would have had a good QB). Actually, didn't that happen in one of their 2 wins?
Conversely, I know against the Saints that the Saints ran the ball for 8 or 9 consecutive plays in the 4th Q resulting in their last offensive TD. So, it's not like they were getting credit for holding the other team to a 1 yd gain on 3 consecutive plays.
EDIT: I guess if the opponent ran on 3rd & 6 late in the 4th, and Conner/Angerer made the tackle short of the 1st down, that would count. However, at least for Conner, 13 of his 19 run defeats were TFL's. That's still really good.

7
by tuluse :: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 1:07pm

Yeah, getting defeats is better than not getting defeats, but not all defeats are created equal.

8
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 1:15pm

Yeah, it's still a good play, but not as good (or perhaps I should say not as useful) as stuffing a run during a tie game.

It's akin to the QB who racks up 100 extra passing yards during the 4th quarter when his team is already down by 28. They're still real yards, they still count, and in theory they make the team more likely to come back. But in reality, they're just empty calories.

23
by Joseph :: Thu, 05/24/2012 - 1:35pm

I understand--and understandably, I only saw part of the Colts game against the Saints. I just meant that for at least the rookie Conner, having 13 of his 19 defeats as run stops behind the line is definitely worth applauding, no matter what the score was. Because if he is a rookie, he should get better--and coupled with the improvements that the Colts made on offense (on paper for right now), he and Angerer should be at worst solid defenders for the next good Colts team.

24
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 05/25/2012 - 4:52am

Except that the next good Colts team will (presumably) be running a completely different defense, and we don't yet know if they'll make the transition successfully. It's hardly unusual for good 4-3 linebackers to lose an awful lot of their effectiveness when their team transitions to a 3-4.

25
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2012 - 6:58am

Conner wasn't a rookie; he was a 2nd year player. That said, he is certainly not a bad player. He's probably already provided more value to the team than a typical 7th rounder.

Unfortunately for Conner, as was previously mentioned, the Colts are switching to a 3-4. Angerer is a MLB, so I would imagine he'll still be starting in one of the ILB positions. Conner is an OLB, so he'll now be competing against the likes of Freeney and Mathis for playing time. Odds are pretty strong that this switch will negatively impact Conner.

26
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 05/25/2012 - 8:00am

Just because he was an OLB in a 4-3 doesn't mean he will be in a 3-4. His body type seems far more suited to the inside, and I imagine they'll try him there. In Houston, 4-3 OLB Cushing made the transition to 3-4 ILB with far more success than 4-3 MLB Ryans (though injury may also have been a factor there).

27
by LionInAZ :: Fri, 05/25/2012 - 9:58pm

Since these area all charted plays, it's likely that the answer to what the game situation was at the time of these defeats is out there, but there's not enough manpower to break it down that finely -- unless someone is willing to pay extra for it...

We'd love to see every statistic put into context, right? But how much are you willing to pay for it?

9
by chemical burn :: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 1:48pm

Good to have definitive proof of Babin's uselessness in the run game: he had only 4 defeats all year that weren't sacks. And he was #2 in terms of highest percentages of his total plays as defeats, so he was basically getting a sack or doing nothing. Throw in that 6 of his sacks came in 2 late season blow-outs against teams that had basically given up on the year and I don't think there's even enough evidence that he's brilliant enough as a sack machine to overlook his other deficiencies. A 13 sack, 4 run defeat guy should be a situational pass rusher and back-up...

Jenkins' numbers at DT shake out much better than I thought, though - and I already thought he was one of the best players on Philly's defense...

11
by tuluse :: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 2:02pm

He only had 3 run defeats, so he must have had 2 passes batted or something.

Contrast this with Julius Peppers who ended with the same number of defeats, but only had 11 sacks. Here's hoping Shea can either open up some room for him or take advantage of his play.

17
by chemical burn :: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 4:25pm

I was actually going to contrast him with Peppers (the #1 % of plays as defeats guy), a truly great DE who is a force on the field - I'd take a handful fewer sacks in exchange for blowing up 3 times as many runs and in general being exactly where the offense doesn't want him to be on any given play.

(Also, Babin could have tackled a RB on a swing pass or mucked up a WR screen - Dallas did throw roughly 200 of them per game vs. the Eagles...)

28
by LionInAZ :: Fri, 05/25/2012 - 10:02pm

I was convinced that Cullen Jenkins was the best player on the Packers D-line, but his injury history was probably too much for them. It's pretty apparent that their D-line play hasn't been the same without him. The Eagles had some luck with Jenkins being healthy last year.

12
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 2:17pm

I always thought that Nate Clements was getting a bum rap in SF, it seemed to me that the abysmal play at strong safety, coupled with a rather average pass rush, made him look bad. He isn't perfect and can get beaten deep but he's useful in the right defense.

As for Sopoaga, his lack of defeats should be placed in context. Until Willis got hurt the run defense that Soapy anchored was making a serious attempt at being the best ever DVOA run defense. You also need to take a look at FO's defensive line stats, the Niners are great at power success, they are amazing at second level and open field but are below average at making plays behind the line, like quite a few 3-4 teams. The 49ers look to build a wall and then you run into it, they do this very well but it does seem to limit them in making plays behind the line of scrimmage. (I'd also love to know how many defeats Willis had in the 12 games he played.)

14
by Dean :: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 3:20pm

Was it you that I was discussing James Laurenitis with a few weeks back? (if not, my bad) This quantifies the impression I'd gotten from watching him play this season - i.e. the guy is really good even with a fairly limited supporting cast.

15
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 3:38pm

It was me yes. I wasn't saying that Laurenitis wasn't a very good player, I was just saying that Bowman might be better and that it could be tough for Laurenitis to make the probowl. Bowman did pretty well in this list too for a first year starter, though he does have a better supporting cast.

18
by Dean :: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 4:34pm

I never felt like you were trying to slight him - morelike sticking up for "your guy." Either way, it's going to be fun watching both those guys for the next few years. And yes, if Laurenitis wants to sniff the pro bowl, his team is going to have to win more than 2 games.

30
by LionInAZ :: Fri, 05/25/2012 - 10:22pm

Clements may have gotten a bum rap, but it's hard to overcome the perception that his performance didn't live up to his status as the highest-paid CB in the NFL when the 49ers signed him. It's fair to blame the management for overpaying Clements while neglecting the rest of the defense, but it's apparent he didn't belong in SF at his pay level.

13
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 2:19pm

Double post

19
by Marko :: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 6:45pm

Chris Harris is listed only as playing for Chicago, but he was released by the Bears in the middle of the season and was signed by Detroit. Going solely from memory, I think his sole defeat on the season came with the Lions. I think he had an interception for them (I'm too lazy to look it up right now). He certainly didn't do much for the Bears last season except help get them defeated by giving up big pass plays or long runs (by being out of his gap), which helps explain why he was released.

29
by LionInAZ :: Fri, 05/25/2012 - 10:12pm

Other than that lone INT, he didn't do much for the Lions either, which is why I can't imagine they'll bring him back.

21
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 05/24/2012 - 5:20am

"The leaders on the "highest percentage" table are all pass rushers, which is not much of a surprise."

I wouldn't really call Antonio Smith a pass rusher, though obviously that is part of his job. I'd say he's notable as being the only interior lineman on that list.

22
by Willsy :: Thu, 05/24/2012 - 7:26am

At the risk of being a Vikings homer I have to take my hat off to Mr Allen. He has been a great signing, tries his butt off and has made some really notable stops in the run game so he really is an all round defender. Terrific player and apparently a very good presence in the locker room.

31
by truthisblunt (not verified) :: Sat, 05/26/2012 - 3:05pm

No Ed Reed. That is one over-hyped player. Ravens fans will tell you he don't hit or tackle anymore.

32
by LionInAZ :: Sat, 05/26/2012 - 6:58pm

So true. He only makes incredible plays that keep the Ravens from losing in the divisional round of the playoffs.

33
by Intropy :: Sat, 05/26/2012 - 7:49pm

Ed Reed is still an excellent player. He's slowing down a little, but really still extremely good and still the best FS in the NFL. He's always been more of a finesse player. I'm not saying he wont hit a guy or power through a block, but that's not his forte and that's not what he's looking to do.