Stat Analysis
Advanced analytics on player and team performance

Run Stop Rates 2013

by Aaron Schatz

It's time to start the usual offseason series presenting various 2013 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 2013.

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 Defeat -- a combination of tackles for loss, forced fumbles, and tackles to prevent a third- or fourth-down conversion -- 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.

This year, our tables are split into four positions rather than three. Outside linebackers in 3-4 defensive schemes are now grouped with defensive ends from 4-3 schemes as "Edge Rushers." This is also how we will be doing tables and stat rankings in Football Outsiders Almanac 2014.

Madden 25 fans, stick with us until the end, as these stats also give us this week's five Football Outsiders elite stars who will be available in packs on Friday, March 7.

Best Run Stop Rates for LB, 2013 (min. 30 Plays)
Player Team Run
Stop Rate
56-B.Cushing HOU 83% 36 10 1.8
54-L.David TB 80% 82 24 2.1
56-D.Davis NYJ 79% 56 9 2.4
55-L.Briggs CHI 78% 41 14 1.9
94-L.Timmons PIT 77% 75 10 2.5
57-J.Bostic CHI 76% 38 4 3.3
56-P.Riley WAS 74% 66 6 3.0
55-B.Spikes NE 74% 72 11 2.6
94-K.Burnett OAK 73% 60 18 2.2
53-J.Mays HOU 73% 48 6 2.6
Worst Run Stop Rates for LB, 2013 (min. 30 Plays)
Player Team Run
Stop Rate
59-D.Ellerbe MIA 37% 63 5 5.0
53-J.McClain BAL 37% 35 1 4.6
59-E.Sims DAL 39% 31 0 6.5
51-J.Mayo NE 47% 36 3 4.2
56-D.Butler SD 48% 48 6 4.3
53-N.Roach OAK 49% 67 4 4.5
59-D.Ryans PHI 51% 69 7 4.0
55-K.Rivers NYG 52% 31 2 4.0
54-D.Hightower NE 52% 60 2 4.2
50-M.Te'o SD 53% 47 9 3.7

In case you haven't heard, Lavonte David had a really good season. Not only did he have an 80 percent Stop Rate, but he also finished tied for ninth in the NFL with 82 run tackles. Cushing's fine numbers were accumulated in just half a season and may have a small sample size effect, as he had never put up a Run Stop Rate above 70 percent before. Briggs had Run Stop Rate over 70 percent every year of his career from 2005 through 2011 before dipping to 67 percent last year, so 2012 represented a fine rebound. Kevin Burnett had never made his run tackles particularly close to the line of scrimmage before last year, but really had a surprisingly strong year for the Raiders and was always in on a lot of plays. Brandon Spikes may have no clue what he is doing in coverage and angered Bill Belichick by showing up late to practice one too many times, but nobody ever said the dude couldn't play the run.

Some of these numbers are based on how defensive schemes work, of course. The Patriots generally have Spikes attack on running plays while Jerod Mayo and Donta Hightower read and react, which is why they rank among the worst Run Stop Rates for 2013. Ellerbe made only one tackle for a loss on a running play all season, although at least it was a pretty sweet one, taking Brian Leonard down at the Tampa Bay 1 on second-and-8 with the Bucs backed up against their own goal line in Week 10. Ernie Sims didn't make a single solo tackle for a gain of less than two yards on a run last year, although he did have a couple of assists on runners stopped at the line of scrimmage.

Best Run Stop Rates for Edge Rushers, 2013 (min. 30 Plays)
Player Team Run
Stop Rate
79-W.Young DET 89% 37 6 2.3
52-C.Matthews GB 87% 30 10 1.2
96-C.Dunlap CIN 85% 41 8 3.1
94-D.Ware DAL 84% 31 6 1.8
98-R.Mathis IND 82% 33 12 2.2
55-T.Suggs BAL 81% 64 8 2.3
99-G.Selvie DAL 81% 31 8 1.9
98-B.Orakpo WAS 80% 40 10 2.4
76-G.Hardy CAR 78% 36 7 2.8
98-Q.Coples NYJ 77% 31 10 1.3
Worst Run Stop Rates for Edge Rushers, 2013 (min. 30 Plays)
Player Team Run
Stop Rate
50-O.Umenyiora ATL 53% 36 3 5.1
50-O.Vernon MIA 63% 40 5 3.7
69-J.Allen MIN 63% 38 8 2.4
95-Cha.Jones NE 63% 63 9 2.7
59-W.Mercilus HOU 64% 33 2 3.1
93-E.Walden IND 65% 34 7 3.6
91-R.Kerrigan WAS 65% 40 8 3.2
93-T.Alualu JAC 68% 40 5 2.4
90-J.Peppers CHI 68% 34 4 2.9
91-J.Tuck NYG 70% 44 8 2.3

A lot of edge rushers will have nice high Run Stop Rates with a low number of actual run tackles because they're always flying into the backfield (and sometimes right past the running back). That's clearly not the case with Terrell Suggs, who was involved in a ton of running plays last season. It's also not the case with Osi Umenyiora. It's pretty hard for a defensive end to make his average run tackle at a distance over five yards. This is actually a weird mix of fluke and not fluke. Umenyiora's average yards per play is completely inflated by one hustle tackle where he took down Lamar Miller after a 49-yard gain. However, the rest of the time he was constantly getting pushed three or four yards back from the line of scrimmage, which is why his Stop Rate is also poor.

Lamar Miller was actually king of the fluky hustle tackle this year. He's also responsible for Carlos Dunlap's average yards per tackle being 3.1 despite his excellent Stop Rate, because Dunlap tracked Miller down after a 41-yard gain. Oh, and stripped the ball. That's why we measure both yards per tackle and Stop Rate. Sometimes the mean is not the best indicator of quality.

Best Run Stop Rates for Interior DL, 2013 (min. 30 Plays)
Player Team Run
Stop Rate
99-J.Watt HOU 92% 63 22 1.7
98-S.Lotulelei CAR 91% 35 10 1.0
92-B.Mebane SEA 91% 45 11 1.0
98-V.Walker OAK 91% 33 7 1.7
93-C.Campbell ARI 87% 47 11 1.4
92-H.Ngata BAL 85% 48 7 2.1
93-J.Hughes CLE 84% 32 3 2.1
94-D.Harrison NYJ 84% 63 10 1.8
96-P.Soliai MIA 84% 31 5 1.7
92-E.Mitchell HOU 84% 43 3 2.5
Worst Run Stop Rates for Interior DL, 2013 (min. 30 Plays)
Player Team Run
Stop Rate
94-C.Jordan NO 61% 31 5 3.1
71-A.Rubin CLE 63% 48 5 3.1
97-L.Joseph NYG 64% 53 8 3.1
97-C.Heyward PIT 65% 43 7 3.7
96-N.Hayden DAL 66% 32 6 2.5
94-Chr.Jones NE 66% 44 4 2.8
90-P.Sims OAK 68% 47 7 2.2
99-J.Casey TEN 68% 38 4 3.3
91-R.McDonald SF 69% 32 4 3.1
72-J.Vellano NE 71% 48 6 2.9

Hey, look, J.J. Watt is very good. Not a shock! It's also not a shock to see that Star Lotulelei, Brandon Mebane, and Calais Campbell play the run well. But it's a little surprising just how many run tackles Damon "Big Snacks" Harrison made at the nose tackle position in the Jets' 3-4. I'm guessing that when you have Sheldon Richardson on one side and Muhammad Wilkerson on the other, you get to see a lot of single-teams instead of the double-teams that usually take on a nose tackle.

Chris Jones and Joe Vellano show that you really don't want to depend on an undrafted rookie and a sixth-round pick cut by another team before the season, but that's what happens when your two veteran tackles go down before midseason. That's a big reason the Patriots were 30th in Adjusted Line Yards. (Actually, Tommy Kelly wasn't much stronger against the run, with a 58 percent Run Stop Rate on 19 tackles. Vince Wilfork is the guy they missed.) We've written numerous times about how Ahtyba Rubin comes out near the bottom of this list year after year after year. Seeing guys like Cameron Jordan and Ray McDonald here is a bit more surprising.

Best Run Stop Rates for DB, 2012 (min. 20 Plays)
Player Team Run
Stop Rate
36-D.Swearinger HOU 63% 38 7 4.9
29-E.Berry KC 59% 32 5 4.3
23-T.Porter OAK 59% 27 5 3.8
43-T.Ward CLE 59% 66 12 3.8
24-C.Graham BAL 59% 22 5 7.2
37-R.Doughty WAS 58% 53 4 4.4
31-K.Chancellor SEA 58% 57 5 4.0
33-C.Tillman CHI 57% 21 5 6.4
26-L.Delmas DET 56% 25 2 4.6
26-J.Wilson WAS 56% 34 8 4.4
Worst Run Stop Rates for DB, 2012 (min. 20 Plays)
Player Team Run
Stop Rate
43-M.Jennings GB 17% 35 6 10.3
47-C.Conte CHI 18% 51 9 11.9
31-R.Marshall SD 19% 21 4 8.0
37-S.Shields GB 19% 21 4 12.2
38-J.Heath DAL 19% 26 5 14.2
26-J.Evans JAC 19% 31 6 8.5
29-N.Allen PHI 21% 24 5 7.8
24-C.Woodson OAK 22% 36 8 8.2
21-M.Jenkins OAK 23% 22 5 7.5
23-K.Lewis KC 23% 30 7 10.1

Wait a minute, D.J. Swearinger??? Rivers McCown just rolled over in his grave, or would if he were dead. Hey, we're not measuring penalties per play here, we're measuring run tackles, and Swearinger was parked close to the line and did a pretty good job against the run. (I'm guessing he ended up taking down a few guys who had been slowed down by that Watt fellow in front of him.)

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The real impressive player here is Browns strong safety T.J. Ward. The Browns had plenty of problems this year but Ward was not one of them, especially when it came to playing the run. Ward's total of 66 run tackles was tied for the league lead among defensive backs with Ryan Clark of Pittsburgh and Barry Church of Dallas. However, Clark had a 45 percent Run Stop Rate while Church was at 24 percent. Ward was all the way up near the top of the league with a bunch of defensive backs who were nowhere near as active against the run as he was. Ward also led all defensive backs with 12 run defeats; Troy Polamalu (10) was the only other defensive back above eight. Ward hits the open market next week. Any team out there need a strong safety?

Of some interest to Ravens fans are the players who just missed this list. Ladarius Webb and James Ihedigbo were both at 54 percent Run Stop Rate, and those two players along with Graham demonstrate that the Ravens' secondary was pretty good in run defense.

For this week's elite Football Outsiders stars in Madden 25 Ultimate Team, we decided to choose players based on the best average yards per run tackle stats rather than Run Stop Rate. With that in mind, here are this week's players:

  • LOLB Lance Briggs, CHI (97 OVR) - led 4-3 linebackers with an average run tackle of 1.9 yards
  • LE Cory Redding, IND (95 OVR) - led 3-4 linemen with an average run tackle of 0.9 yards
  • SS T.J. Ward, CLE (94 OVR) - tied for lead among defensive backs with an average run tackle of 3.8 yards and a total of 66 run tackles
  • DT Star Lotulelei, CAR (90 OVR) - tied for lead among 4-3 defensive tackles with an average run tackle of 1.0 yards
  • DT Brandon Mebane, SEA (90 OVR) - tied for lead among 4-3 defensive tackles with an average run tackle of 1.0 yards

Cory Redding is not listed in the tables above because he had only 28 run tackles, but if we drop the minimum to be ranked to 25 plays, Redding's average run tackle distance of 0.9 yards was the best among 3-4 linemen but half a yard.


18 comments, Last at 08 Mar 2014, 12:21pm

1 Re: Run Stop Rates 2013

As a Jets fan, I'm not suprised Snacks made this list, but that Demario Davis and Quinton Coples ranked so high.

2 Re: Run Stop Rates 2013

MD Jennings. So bad the Pack replaced him with a rusty UFA coming back from a neck injury. Also one of the worst safeties in pass support. Please TT. Draft Clinton Dix or Pryor.

15 Re: Run Stop Rates 2013

More like, when he's reading the play properly and not being blocked, he has a good stop rate. This stat says he rarely wiffs when in position to make a play.

16 Re: Run Stop Rates 2013

It doesn't say that though. It says when he tackles a runner, that runner is usually stopped. It doesn't say if he's whiffing when he's close and it doesn't say how often he gets close.

18 Re: Run Stop Rates 2013

I don't remember a lot of missed Bostic tackles, just lots of holes where Bostic should have been. That should improve with experience and having Briggs and Williams back.

Conte, on the other hand, my god. If you combined this stat with something about having your jock left on the field, he might have a single-season record. It'll never happen, but imagine the amount by which the Bears run D would improve just by replacing Conte with T.J. Ward. (I imagine Packer fans are saying the same thing about M.D. Jennings.)

4 Re: Run Stop Rates 2013

Giants had the 3rd best run defense per DVOA. But have three guys in the worst columns, and nobody in the good ones.

Rather interesting.

13 Re: Run Stop Rates 2013

The defensive line stats show them as below average on power runs, mediocre on stuffing rushers, and excellent on 2nd level and open field plays, so not necessarily inconsistent with the results here. The other top-5 run Ds ranked higher on DL stats.

5 Re: Run Stop Rates 2013

The Raiders have two K. Burnetts. Kevin and Kaelin. You might want to use Ke. and Ka. as the abbreviations. Some years K. Burnett might appear in both columns.

7 Re: Run Stop Rates 2013

Can you tell us what Philip Wheeler's stats were? 'cause any Dolphins fan can tell you he seemed worse against the run than Ellerbe.

8 Re: Run Stop Rates 2013

Can't feel good that the only guy on the left of those charts is sure to be leaving the team and the guys on the right will be back. The talk is Miami is targeting at least one linebacker in free agency. If they lose both interior DTs though its going to be a rough defense next season.

9 Re: Run Stop Rates 2013

Suggs has been a dominant run defender his entire career. As an edge rusher he doesn't put up as flashy sack numbers as some of his contemporaries, but his overall value due to his run defense (plus screen and smoke play defense) is really high.

10 Re: Run Stop Rates 2013

I was thinking about a Lavonte David jersey before the horrors of the new uniforms were released. Might have to anyways, just because.

The one I find really shocking here is Robert Mathis--great year rushing the passer with a load of sacks, and still #5 for run stop %? Impressive as hell year.

17 Re: Run Stop Rates 2013

"A lot of edge rushers will have nice high Run Stop Rates with a low number of actual run tackles because they're always flying into the backfield"

I suspect that's a big part of what's going on here - as mentioned above, stop rate is interested only in the plays where a guy actually made a tackle, so it's not really surprising that a guy who gets great penetration will perform well in that stat, regardless of whether he's actually a good run defender overall.

14 Re: Run Stop Rates 2013

The only guy on the list is Ray McDonald and he played most of the year with a torn bicep and then battled through a high ankle sprain, which would slow anyone down.

Hasn't the run defense been mediocre out of the nickel for a couple of years now? And they insist on playing the safeties back, which makes it much harder to stuff the run.