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