J.J. Watt Obliterates Record for Defeats

Defeats measure a combination of three things:

  • Turnovers (or tipped passes that lead to turnovers)
  • Tackles for a loss
  • Tackles or passes defensed that prevent conversion on third or fourth down
Most Defeats in a Season, 1996-2012
2012 J.J. Watt HOU DE 56
1999 Ray Lewis BAL ILB 45
1999 Derrick Brooks TB OLB 42
1998 Ed McDaniel MIN ILB 40
1998 Zach Thomas MIA ILB 40
2003 Ray Lewis BAL ILB 39
2012 Von Miller DEN OLB 39
2006 London Fletcher BUF ILB 38
2001 Jamir Miller CLE OLB 38
2002 Brian Urlacher CHI ILB 38
2004 Marcus Washington WAS OLB 38
2006 Lance Briggs CHI OLB 37
2000 Derrick Brooks TB OLB 37
2009 Brian Cushing HOU OLB 37
1998 Ray Lewis BAL ILB 37
1997 Robert Porcher DET DE 37

With all due respect to Von Miller... Explain to me again why we are having a debate about who should win Defensive Player of the Year?


40 comments, Last at 11 Jan 2013, 7:08am

#1 by TC (not verified) // Dec 31, 2012 - 12:52pm

TFL includes sacks, yes?

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#2 by The Hypno-Toad // Dec 31, 2012 - 12:56pm

I agree that watt should win, but the shortest answer for why there's a debate is that the people who decide these things look more at traditional stats rather than the more illustrative things like defeats. Their traditional stats are more comparable, I'd say. But even on those, I think the award should go to watt. Thanks for putting this list together.

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#3 by Sleight of Hand Pro (not verified) // Dec 31, 2012 - 12:57pm

what debate are you referring? everything ive read seems to be in complete agreement that watt should win. he appears to be consensus through fans, teams, players, media, etc.

it seems like youre upset about the possibility of him not winning it, i just dont know what justification there is to think he wont.

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#32 by sundown (not verified) // Jan 02, 2013 - 1:33pm

Totally agree. I haven't seen much real "debate" about this at all. Just an effort to create a controversy to make the article seem more relevant.

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#4 by CBPodge // Dec 31, 2012 - 1:01pm

So Von Miller essentially had one of the best all around seasons a linebacker has had since 1991, and still isn't close to Watt? Pretty ridiculous.

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#6 by CBPodge // Dec 31, 2012 - 1:04pm

Duplicate comment.

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#5 by Jacob Stevens (not verified) // Dec 31, 2012 - 1:03pm

I think Watt should get MVP, actually.

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#40 by lyle (not verified) // Jan 11, 2013 - 7:08am

As a fan of the Jaguars who faced him twice this year, couldn't agree more. he was the most destructive influence on any team this year.

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#7 by Bright Blue Shorts // Dec 31, 2012 - 1:10pm

The other noticeable thing about that list is that its full of LBs.

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#8 by Anger...rising // Dec 31, 2012 - 1:12pm

Explain to me again why we are having a debate about who should win Defensive Player of the Year?

Because there's more to defense than one's standing in a single arbitrarily-defined statistic. Glad I could clear that up for you.

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#11 by Ryan D. // Dec 31, 2012 - 1:32pm

This singular arbitrarily-defined stat seems to better encompass a defensive end/outside linebacker's total on-field responsibility better than just the sack stat, which has been erroneously used as an end-all/be-all in DPOY discussions in the past, despite not accounting for a player's responsibility to also play the run.

It's also not just Watt's standing in this stat for this season. It's his place firmly entrenched at the top of the all-time list, with 24% more defeats than the player that formerly held the all-time record.

By his sheer record-breaking domination in this more telling single stat, there is no competition; Watt should win DPOY.

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#12 by Boots Day // Dec 31, 2012 - 1:48pm

I understand that this stat is better than sacks, but that doesn't mean it is an all-encompassing stat fully representing a defensive player's value, or even the best single stat representing a defensive player's value. I think you have to establish that first before you get to the point where Watt's dominance in this number means you shouldn't even consider anyone else for DPOY.

At the same time, yes, I would vote for Watt for DPOY.

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#18 by Mountain Time … // Dec 31, 2012 - 5:20pm

Nobody reasonable has ever claimed defeats to be an all-encompassing measure of someone's play. Nobody reasonable has ever claimed ANY stat should be so revered. But defeats + stops combined with observation: an understanding of the system the player plays in, plus asking how his play compares to what should historically be expected of someone playing a similar role, and probably more, is required for anything approaching "all-encompassing."

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#23 by RickD // Dec 31, 2012 - 8:12pm

It's not an arbitrarily-defined statistic.

"arbitrary" defines that there isn't any intrinsic or relevant meaning to the statistic.

"defeats" has a meaning to it that is central to the process of playing defense.

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#9 by Splattered // Dec 31, 2012 - 1:16pm

Out of curiosity, where does Geno Atkins stand (looks like he has ~30) in terms of interior linemen?

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#13 by BaconAndWaffles // Dec 31, 2012 - 2:02pm

I suspect most readers here would vote for Watt, but using a single stat (albeit one that incorporates multiple stats) as ipso facto justification is a bit shortsighted considering that FO has always preached about looking deeper into the numbers.

So many football stats can be influenced my scheme, that I can imagine a scenario where the above stat would not automatically make Watt the DPOY. I don't think that is really true this year, but at least having a conversation that includes Von Miller (and to a much smaller extent Aldon Smith) is not unreasonable.

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#14 by andrew // Dec 31, 2012 - 3:02pm

Only two people on the list are not linebackers.

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#15 by David A (not verified) // Dec 31, 2012 - 3:19pm

Disclaimer: I, a bronco fan, agree that JJ Watt should be DPOY.

As for your comment about there being no case for a debate... Do you realize that only one player on the entire list was voted as DPOY. That was Ray Lewis in 2003. Why should being good in this stat equate with DPOY?

It doesn't take into account offensive penalties caused, such as holding, false starts, intentional grounding.

It also doesn't account for defensive performances that led to plays by other players... such as forcing a quarterback into another player for a sack.

There is a reason the DPOY is a vote, and not simply a calculation based on stats.

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#16 by Anon (not verified) // Dec 31, 2012 - 4:28pm

I agree. I would seriously consider a 3-4 nose tackle that could consistently defeat double-teams as a DPOY, but he wouldn't have great stats. I think that to truly evaluate a player, one must understand his role in the defense. Did Aldon Smith get any sacks after Justin Smith got hurt?

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#19 by WeaponX (not verified) // Dec 31, 2012 - 6:11pm

Why only 3rd or 4th down passes defensed? I guess that's a lot simpler to parse than < 40% yardage needed to convert. Still, all passes defensed are pretty nifty imo.

Are TFL tallied somewhere on this site?

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#21 by JonFrum // Dec 31, 2012 - 7:32pm

It's either a turnover - by takeaway or on downs - or a loss of yardage. A tackle or tipped pass that leaves the offense with the ball and another down with no loss of yards is a neutral play. Its' similar to a QB hit that comes on an incomplete pass - it's not a sack, even though you got in a legal lick on the QB. It might be interesting to see both included in a single statistic with the above. Watt got in some good hits on Brady this year, but no sacks or tipped balls that I remember.

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#27 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Jan 01, 2013 - 4:48am

"A tackle or tipped pass that leaves the offense with the ball and another down with no loss of yards is a neutral play. "

No, its not. 1st down and 10 and 4th down and 10 are drastically different situations. In order to get from one to the other, there needs to be negative plays.

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#28 by Andrew Potter // Jan 01, 2013 - 8:12am

What, exactly, is being requested here? A player's individual total of tackles and passes defended (including interceptions) which prevent the offense from gaining successful yardage? A combination of tackles for a loss and passes defended (including interceptions)? The latter should be relatively easy to compile, I'd have thought - perhaps even including fumbles forced which don't result in a turnover.

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#25 by Dan // Dec 31, 2012 - 10:39pm

Advanced NFL Stats has a somewhat similar stat to evaluate defenders, +EPA, which measures the value added on the successful plays that the defender made. Ray Lewis's 2003 season held the record for best season on record (going back to 2000) with 87.3 +EPA, and Watt obliterated that record as well with 122.1.

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#30 by Bobman // Jan 02, 2013 - 3:14am


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#31 by slipknottin // Jan 02, 2013 - 9:58am

This list has virtually no pass rushers on it. Pretty significant really. Lawrence Taylor for instance is not on here. Despite having an MVP season.

Perhaps because runs tend to go inside more often, or it's easier to get a tackle short of the marker than it is to get a sack.

If you included pressures that led to quick passes that did not convert for a first then you may find more pass rushers on here

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#34 by Dean // Jan 02, 2013 - 1:44pm

Most of Lawrence Taylor's best years are still pre-DVOA era. As the charting continues, more and more of the best of Marino, Montana, Taylor, etc. will be added to these lists.

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#39 by apbadogs // Jan 03, 2013 - 11:11am

Aaron Schatz mentioned on the BS Report that they are going to get 1989-1990 DVOA's done over the off-season. Right now they only go back to 1991. And he was absolutley giddy when he metioned how excited he his to do the 1985 Bears. That said, as of the current ratings the 1991 Redskins are the best DVOA team they've done.

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#35 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 02, 2013 - 2:38pm

You'll notice that 1981, 1982, and 1986 all precede the 1996-2012 window of this article.

Most of Reggie White's and Bruce Smith's good years aren't on here either.

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#37 by slipknottin // Jan 02, 2013 - 9:20pm

I think my point still stands though. There are almost no pass rushers on the list.

Getting a pressure/hit that leads to an incomplete pass or a pass thrown short is not accounted for.

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