Best and Worst Run Stop Rates 2010

Best and Worst Run Stop Rates 2010
Best and Worst Run Stop Rates 2010
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Aaron Schatz

Time to continue our series presenting various 2010 stats from the multitude of Football Outsiders spreadsheets. Today, let's look at Stop Rate for running plays.

Stop Rate is defined as the percentage of a players Plays that were Stops. Plays are any time a player shows up in the play-by-play on defense: tackles, assists, forced fumbles, etc. Stops are plays that stop the offense short of what FO considers a successful play: 45 percent of yards on first down, 60 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third or fourth down.

Obviously, Stop Rate isn't a perfect stat. It measures the plays that a player makes, not the plays he misses or the plays he doesn't even get a chance to miss because he is being properly blocked away from the ballcarrier. Still, it gives you a good idea of where players were making their plays and thus why certain defenses were good or bad at certain parts of the game in 2010.

The tables below are limited solely to running plays, including scrambles. We give Run Stop Rate as well as number of Plays and number of Defeats, plus yards per play, which is the average length of a run past the line of scrimmage when this player had a tackle or assist.

(Note that the minimums I'm using here aren't necessarily the same minimums that we use when ranking players in this stat on the FO player pages, so the rank here may be different from the rank on a player's page. We keep those minimums very standard no matter the stat we're measuring in order to make it easier to put the player pages together.)

Best Run Stop Rates for LB, 2010 (min. 30 Plays)
Player Team Run
Stop Rate
94-D.Ware DAL 91% 35 11 1.9
55-T.Suggs BAL 85% 48 12 1.6
92-J.Harrison PIT 85% 59 13 2.0
55-L.Briggs CHI 85% 39 12 2.0
54-Geno.Hayes TB 82% 44 14 2.1
97-C.Pace NYJ 81% 36 8 2.1
95-S.Phillips SD 80% 35 9 2.7
52-C.Crowder MIA 80% 30 2 3.0
51-J.Farrior PIT 80% 64 7 2.1
92-W.Witherspoon TEN 79% 48 12 3.6
94-L.Timmons PIT 78% 82 14 2.5
53-K.Conner IND 77% 31 4 2.6
Worst Run Stop Rates for LB, 2010 (min. 30 Plays)
Player Team Run
Stop Rate
50-A.Hawk GB 46% 67 5 4.6
54-Z.Diles HOU 48% 40 6 4.2
51-P.Posluszny BUF 50% 107 10 4.0
55-D.Bishop GB 50% 66 5 4.2
51-G.McRath TEN 50% 34 3 3.9
50-A.Ayodele BUF 51% 85 9 4.1
54-A.Davis BUF 52% 33 5 3.8
55-D.Williams DEN 52% 73 9 4.2
52-R.McIntosh WAS 53% 55 4 3.7
59-J.Belcher KC 53% 64 5 4.6
58-S.Shanle NO 55% 33 3 4.0
51-P.Angerer IND 55% 42 4 4.6

When you play close to the line of scrimmage like DeMarcus Ware and Terrell Suggs, it makes sense that most of your tackles stop runners before a good gain. But the list of the best Stop Rates for linebackers isn't all pass rushers; you've got 4-3 linebackers and 3-4 inside linebackers as well. In case you're wondering why Will Witherspoon's average yards per play is so much higher than the other players on this list, it's mostly the effect of two runs where he tracked down the runner after a long gain: a 37-yarder by Maurice Jones-Drew and a 16-yard scramble by Jason Campbell.

I've always been a little confused about what A.J. Hawk's strengths were supposed to be. When he first came out of college, he was advertised as a great all-around linebacker. Over time, it became clear he was a bit overdrafted, but still solid. The Packers took him out of the nickel package, suggesting that he was better against the run than against the pass. But this year, they actually put him back into the nickel package, suggesting that he was better against the pass than... well, at least better than Desmond Bishop was against the pass. As for the poor Run Stop Rate, I e-mailed Aaron Nagler from Cheesehead TV about it and his response was that Hawk "gets to the spot -- and then gets carried another three yards." That would seem to be a good explanation for a poor Run Stop Rate.

Best Run Stop Rates for DL, 2010 (min. 30 Plays)
Player Team Run
Stop Rate
99-L.Houston OAK 91% 33 7 1.3
71-A.Garay SD 90% 41 7 1.7
78-A.Branch ARI 90% 30 8 1.7
92-S.Ellis NYJ 90% 30 6 2.1
79-J.Henderson OAK 90% 30 3 1.8
92-A.Franklin SF 89% 38 4 1.9
76-Ja.Williams DEN 89% 46 3 2.6
94-A.Smith HOU 87% 30 7 1.4
79-R.Pickett GB 87% 30 3 3.0
96-P.Soliai MIA 86% 36 8 1.1
92-H.Ngata BAL 86% 50 8 1.8
95-C.Johnson CAR 86% 42 8 1.9
Worst Run Stop Rates for DL, 2010 (min. 30 Plays)
Player Team Run
Stop Rate
71-A.Rubin CLE 51% 75 5 4.1
90-D.Muir IND 54% 37 4 3.3
91-B.Schaefering CLE 57% 30 2 3.0
98-S.Ellis NO 64% 33 5 3.5
91-A.Okoye HOU 64% 39 10 3.1
98-D.Edwards BUF 65% 51 6 3.5
93-C.Redding BAL 65% 37 5 2.3
98-R.Mathis IND 66% 41 9 2.6
95-K.Balmer SEA 66% 41 6 2.6
93-K.Vanden Bosch DET 67% 33 8 2.8
97-J.Bannan DEN 67% 30 8 2.6
91-Sp.Johnson BUF 68% 53 7 2.8

A tackle that takes place after a long gain isn't always a poor play by the player in question; for example, it's hard to fault Amobi Okoye when Mike Thomas rips off a 17-yard end around, but when Okoye runs downfield and is the player who tracks Thomas down, that tackle shows up in his numbers as a non-stop. Okoye's place on this list is sort of interesting for other reasons. I know it surprised some people when he showed up last week on the list of players with the most Run Defeats. Okoye's high Defeats total combined with low Stop Rate shows his plays came all over the place, and he had a habit of getting credited for an assist on a lot of 5-8 yard runs.

The "best rates" list helps show why Oakland's run defense was a surprising 12th in DVOA and fourth in Adjusted Line Yards. The Raiders' defensive line stopped a lot of opposing runners right up front, without even letting them get to the linebackers and defensive backs. Both Richard Seymour and Matt Shaughnessy also made their average tackles within two yards of the line of scrmimage, although with lower Stop Rates.

Not only did Ahtyba Rubin have the worst Run Stop Rate for a starting defensive lineman, but he also had more Run Plays than any other defensive lineman. As with Okoye, this is another one of the places where trying to read the meaning of play-by-play stats is difficult. The conventional wisdom in Cleveland is that Rubin had a breakout season last year. In this article, Eric Mangini gave him credit for a lot of "hustle plays." When Rubin was making tackles of runners after five or six yards, was he getting pushed backwards by blockers or was he making hustle plays on runners after being initially blocked out of the play? The play-by-play doesn't tell you.

Clearly, somebody wasn't doing a good job against the run in Cleveland, and Adjusted Line Yards numbers suggest that the culprits are Rubin and the linemen, and maybe the linebackers -- but not the defensive backs. Cleveland ranked 31st in Adjusted Line Yards but fourth in Second-Level Yards and fourth in Open Field Yards. They gave up a ton of 5-8 yard runs but very few 10+-yard runs.

Best Run Stop Rates for DB, 2010 (min. 20 Plays)
Player Team Run
Stop Rate
21-C.Woodson GB 70% 43 9 4.0
24-S.Brown CLE 64% 22 1 3.4
20-R.Barber TB 62% 42 9 4.7
26-A.Winfield MIN 62% 21 3 3.5
24-A.Wilson ARI 62% 52 10 4.2
22-B.Pool NYJ 60% 30 3 5.5
28-G.Toler ARI 59% 32 3 5.8
43-T.Polamalu PIT 58% 24 6 4.1
41-R.Harper NO 56% 57 8 4.4
28-S.Gregory SD 55% 20 4 5.1
27-Q.Mikell PHI 55% 51 9 5.4
43-G.Sensabaugh DAL 55% 31 2 5.9
Worst Run Stop Rates for DB, 2010 (min. 20 Plays)
Player Team Run
Stop Rate
23-R.Hill DEN 24% 34 1 11.3
41-K.Moore WAS 24% 37 3 8.9
46-C.Harris CHI 25% 28 3 7.6
36-J.Sanders NE 25% 24 2 7.2
36-N.Collins GB 26% 31 3 8.6
25-K.Rhodes ARI 26% 50 3 11.0
20-R.Nelson CIN 26% 23 2 8.1
31-B.Meriweather NE 27% 26 0 9.0
28-T.DeCoud ATL 28% 40 3 10.2
26-L.Delmas DET 28% 43 4 6.3
30-C.Clemons MIA 28% 25 3 7.9
20-D.Whitner BUF 29% 94 6 8.3

As with Run Defeats, there's no surprise to seeing Charles Woodson and Ronde Barber on the top of this list. That's just how they roll, baby. Adrian Wilson had his customary strong year against the run as well, although he may not be the pass defender he was a couple years ago.

As you can see, the list of worst Run Stop Rates is basically all free safeties. The cornerbacks with the lowest Stop Rate (minimum 20 plays) were Brent Grimes and Stanford Routt at 30 percent. Also, if you're looking at that list, you may be surprised by just how many run tackles Donte Whitner made last year: 94. That's 25 more than any other defensive back in the league. The Buffalo front seven wasn't really doing the best job of stopping opposition runners. Whitner was fifth in the entire league in the number of Run Plays, behind only four inside linebackers (Jerod Mayo, Paul Posluszny, Stephen Tulloch, and London Fletcher). The next-highest defensive back was Antrel Rolle, who was tied for 29th.

With all the Buffalo players listed on the Worst Run Stop Rate lists above, you really see what a problem run defense was for the Bills and it just makes you appreciate Kyle Williams even more. Williams led the Bills in Run Defeats (11), Run Stop Rate (77 percent), and yards per play on runs (2.1). Fourteen different players had at least 20 run tackles for Buffalo and Marcus Stroud was the only other one with a Run Stop Rate above 70 percent (just barely, at 70.5 percent) while Spencer Johnson (2.8) was the only other one to make his average run tackle within three yards of the line of scrimmage.


22 comments, Last at 17 Dec 2011, 2:39pm

#1 by MilkmanDanimal // Jun 02, 2011 - 12:48pm

*insert fanboyish adulation of Ronde Barber here*

Last year it seemed like Geno Hayes was in on a lot of plays for the Bucs, but he's all over these lists.

Points: 0

#14 by RIs_Buc (not verified) // Jun 03, 2011 - 8:45am

Barber has always been great against the run, but the run def in general improved. Hayes may be the one getting the credit - but I think Cody Grimm has more to do with it than anyone.

Points: 0

#20 by BucNasty // Jun 04, 2011 - 10:28am

My eyes say Grimm was the surest tackler on the team last year, but he had nothing to do with Geno's plays. Hayes just seems like he's too fast and maybe a bit too small to get a hold of, so he just comes in basically untouched and wraps up the ball carrier. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that a guy like that has trouble disengaging when someone actually does get a hold of him, though, so Grimm makes a nice safety net. And of course, Sean Jones is just invisible.

Points: 0

#2 by DisplacedPackerFan // Jun 02, 2011 - 1:02pm

I still can't quite figure the Packers run defense out. As mentioned, Hawk gets there, but never makes the tackle at the point of contact. Bishop never seemed to get there cleanly, he seemed to have to tackle the back and a blocker. Some of this had to do with the Packers playing the 2-4-5 on around 45% of downs (it was really their base defense as they played it more than any other alignment). They did well in most short yardage situations as evidenced by the 46% power success against (#2 in the league). But it was a pretty poor adjusted yard lines at 4.26, 2nd level yards were pretty average, and open field were low.

The defensive philosophy was stop the pass first, stop the run second most of the time, hence the 2-4-5, but they could stop the short runs. So the running backs would get a clean hole but the secondary could stop runners. We know about Woodson but Tramon Williams had a 47% rate good for 33rd. Yeah Collins was listed as one of the worst and Sam Shields wasn't great at run stops as well but that wasn't their job either.

I know injuries on the D-line played a part as well they were so thin some games that they had offensive lineman taking snaps on the D-Line.

But it does make it hard for me to get a handle on if the players aren't good at run defense or if they were having to do more than expected because of the scheme and injuries. I still think both Hawk and Bishop are better run stoppers than some of these numbers state, but I also don't think either is really great at. I think with the defense being able to play as expected (more actual 3-4-4 with healthy D linemen and the full linebacker rotation) they would float back up into the middle, but I'm not sure.

Points: 0

#5 by PackersRS (not verified) // Jun 02, 2011 - 2:56pm

After 09, where the Packers had the best run defense, but a poor pass defense, Capers made a shift in philosophy. Like you said, their focus was to stop the pass.

Early in the year, they were overaggressive. QBs were able to scramble with ease, as there wasn't much gap containment, and that also led to some big RB runs. Capers adjusted that as the season progressed.

Fact is, like you said, when they wanted to, the Packers stopped the run. #2 in power sucess, they never allowed more than 1 rushing TD in a single game.

Hawk's and Bishop's numbers do show that they are not elite run stoppers, but it's more of a consequence of the system than their play per se. Point in case is the SB, when the Packers' gameplan was to stop the run and contain Roethlisberger (they began the S with a 4 DL, 4 LB and 3 DB formation), Bishop had 3 tackles for loss. Hawk is average.

Points: 0

#7 by Flounder // Jun 02, 2011 - 3:26pm

Yeah, Collins being on the list does not surprise me in the least. It's just not his job. He very rarely plays near the line of scrimmage. His job on most running plays is "make sure the RB doesn't score a TD if he breaks through to the third level."

Points: 0

#8 by Aaron Brooks' … (not verified) // Jun 02, 2011 - 3:34pm

I think Delmas is like that, too. He's the only Lions DB who can actually tackle. If you got to the 3rd level, and Delmas didn't tackle you, no one did.

Points: 0

#10 by ppabich // Jun 02, 2011 - 7:58pm

I think you did figure out the Packers run philosophy. It's stop the pass first and deal with the run later.

It was funny during the season when, the Defense would be in a 3rd and long situation, and I would have no confidence. While 3rd and 2 seemed like a sure stop. When a team ripped off 8 yard run on second and 9, I was relieved.

Points: 0

#17 by Arkaein // Jun 03, 2011 - 12:47pm

I think the aspect of this stat that underrates Hawk is that he rarely allows a big play or puts his fellow defenders in difficult spots. GB was good at preventing long running plays, and a fair amount of the reason is that Hawk is always good at at least getting to the point where the runner has to change direction.

In isolation he can look a bit passive and timid because he rarely steps up to make tackles earlier that could prevent the last yard or two gained, but overall the effect on the defense is positive.

It might be different if GB didn't have an overall strong defense with plenty of other playmaker types (Matthews, Woodson, Collins). In that case Hawk's skills could allow too many steady marches down the field. But because GB does have these other players having a "steady" influence in the middle works well.

Points: 0

#3 by Podge (not verified) // Jun 02, 2011 - 2:01pm

Can you do a list of who had the most plays/stops/defeats?

I don't think stop rate is a terribly useful stat. It would be wonderful if you could tie it in with the number of snaps that a player played, but I'm not sure there's any data on that is there? That would give a truer stop rate (number of plays on which the playing is on the field he makes a stop on).

Points: 0

#4 by Thomas_beardown // Jun 02, 2011 - 2:22pm

A quick and dirty total stop rate would be easy to calculate from just total plays against a team. So you would have theoretically a player with 10 stops out of 200 total runs against his team and he would get a 5% stop rate.

You could do just a little more work and just use the runs against in games a player actually played. That would yield a cool statistic.

Points: 0

#11 by Vincent Verhei // Jun 02, 2011 - 8:37pm

We already did the total Defeats list both for runs and for passes.

Most Run Stops, DL:

BUF 95-K.Williams 50
KC 72-G.Dorsey 48
NYJ 70-M.Devito 47
NYG 91-J.Tuck 46
CLE 90-K.Coleman 45
BAL 92-H.Ngata 43
SF 94-J.Smith 42
DEN 76-Ja.Williams 41
ARI 93-C.Campbell 40
OAK 77-M.Shaughnessy 39
KC 90-S.Smith 39
NYJ 91-S.Pouha 39

Most Run Stops, LB:

TEN 55-S.Tulloch 66
PIT 94-L.Timmons 64
ARI 51-P.Lenon 57
BAL 52-R.Lewis 57
MIN 52-C.Greenway 56
DAL 56-B.James 56
NE 51-J.Mayo 56
CAR 50-J.Anderson 55
WAS 59-L.Fletcher 55
STL 55-J.Laurinaitis 53
BUF 51-P.Posluszny 53
MIN 56-E.Henderson 53
SF 51-T.Spikes 53

Most Run Stops, DB:

HOU 31-B.Pollard 34
NO 41-R.Harper 32
ARI 24-A.Wilson 32
GB 21-C.Woodson 30
BAL 26-D.Landry 30
OAK 33-T.Branch 29
PHI 27-Q.Mikell 28
BUF 20-D.Whitner 27
SEA 36-L.Milloy 27
IND 41-A.Bethea 26

And since that list is dominated by safeties, here's the top 10 for CBs. If you get even half as many run stops as Charles Woodson, you're doing a hell of a job:

GB 21-C.Woodson 30
TB 20-R.Barber 25
ARI 28-G.Toler 19
NYG 24-T.Thomas 16
CLE 24-S.Brown 14
SF 22-N.Clements 13
WAS 23-D.Hall 12
MIN 26-A.Winfield 12
CAR 31-R.Marshall 12
SD 20-A.Cason 12
IND 26-K.Hayden 12
STL 32-B.Fletcher 12

Points: 0

#13 by Podge (not verified) // Jun 03, 2011 - 6:28am

Thanks for that, very informative.

Do you have the list of most overall plays, or are you getting to that?

Is it wrong that I've never heard of James Anderson of Carolina?

Points: 0

#16 by Aaron Schatz // Jun 03, 2011 - 11:37am

Anderson had an excellent season. Very underrated and yes, very little known. Actually, when Tanier and I went to NFL Films at the end of the 2009 season and Jaws and Greg Cosell were watching CAR-MIN, Anderson really jumped off the tape. So it was nice to see him get a full starting position and take advantage.

One of the things we need to work on is fiddling with the Premium player database so that people can do leaders lists of these defensive stats on their own rather than only having the stats on each player page. It's on the "to do" list.

Points: 0

#6 by KB (not verified) // Jun 02, 2011 - 2:57pm

I was thinking right away seeing 2 GB MLB's on the list has to mean they were at a disadvantage because of the 3-4. Then you realize like it was already said that GB played 2-4-5 VERY often. Not as many big bodies means more likely that you are taking on a RB by yourself. Could explain being carried that yard or two if you met in the gap until you get help. Watching them last year I didn't believe GB's run defense was as bad as many had said. When you have the philosophy to shut down the passing game it will happen.

Points: 0

#18 by Anonymouse (not verified) // Jun 03, 2011 - 1:09pm

steelers ran 2-4-5 pretty constantly as well,

but the results in terms of linebacker stop % were a bit different.

Points: 0

#9 by tunesmith // Jun 02, 2011 - 6:24pm

I'm confused about how DJ Williams could rank highly on overall Defeats but so low on run stops.

Also really surprising that Jamal Williams did so well while Justin Bannan did so poorly. Most Broncos fans are up in arms about letting Bannan go, without a peep about Williams.

Points: 0

#12 by skibrett15 // Jun 02, 2011 - 8:51pm

Re: the packers stuff.

Agree with cheeseheadtv that hawk wasn't a powerful tackler, but I think that's only part of the story. A lot of these plays in the 2-4-5 you have people running AWAY from woodson. Hence, they went at hawk, but they also brought some artillery in the form of a blocker who would help on Raji, then find hawk and try to put a hand on him. Lots of times you see a big traffic ball going left, and hawk is flailing towards the ballcarrier sideways but still rips him down by the ankles. To me that's a "success" defensively but not a FBO "defeat". Nor should it be a defeat. Teams got burned by throwing their extra blocker at the DB woodson, but woodson is too crafty and would be to the spot long before the lineman ever touched him.

Points: 0

#15 by gratif1 (not verified) // Jun 03, 2011 - 10:48am

RE: AJ Hawk's numbers:

Packers operate mostly out of a 2-4-5

Hawk's role is usually to be the banger and eat blocks for others. Probably measuring a lot of draws.

Points: 0

#19 by KB (not verified) // Jun 03, 2011 - 1:51pm

I believe they ran Nickel 75% of the time. I wonder if any other team in the NFL ran it close to that. I know GB is more inclined to do it because of having Sam Shields shift to the outside while Charles Woodson covers the slot. No other team has that luxury.

Points: 0

#21 by Scott C // Jun 05, 2011 - 12:14pm

I believe in an analysis like this, Average run yards/play is a poor metric.

The Median, and 80th percentile would be very informative to understand if just a couple very long runs tracked down influenced the average upward, or if there was a pattern of many medium length runs.

Points: 0

#22 by Nat1969 // Dec 17, 2011 - 2:39pm

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