Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

15 Jan 2009

Gibril Wilson Hates Your Running Back

In the midst of putting together numbers for the NFC Championship preview and looking up some stuff about Quentin Mikell and Adrian Wilson, I stumbled upon an astounding number for Oakland Raiders safety Gibril Wilson. I figured this was the kind of random discovery that was perfect for a blog post.

According to our individual defense stats, Gibril Wilson made 87 run plays this season (i.e. tackles or assists). That ranks seventh in the entire league -- D'Qwell Jackson of Cleveland was first with 106 -- but more importantly, the gap between Wilson and the rest of the league's safeties is colossal. Lawyer Milloy and Yeremiah Bell tied for second among safeties with just 58 run plays apiece. That would rank 45th among all defensive players. Not only that, but Wilson made his average run play after a gain of 4.7 yards, which is two yards closer than the average safety.

Maybe Wilson was playing in the box most of the time, but still, these numbers are ridiculous -- and honestly, it isn't like it did much good, because Oakland ranked 26th in run defense DVOA.

I currently have individual defense stats figured back to 1999, and Wilson ends up with more run plays than any safety in the database. The previous record was 86 run plays by Pat Tillman in 2000. Of course, Tillman was making his average play after a gain of 7.7 yards, which is a bit different from Wilson. The other thing to note is that in every other year, there are a few safeties with at least 60 run plays. This year, just one. Weird.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 15 Jan 2009

22 comments, Last at 16 Jan 2009, 2:36pm by Temo


by ammek :: Thu, 01/15/2009 - 1:45pm

A successful Raider free-agent signing? All hail.

by Bad Doctor :: Thu, 01/15/2009 - 1:53pm

I'm assuming that this is because of our new Nnamdi overlord?

If so, is there an argument that he should get the largest contract in football history this offseason? Is there an argument that he shouldn't?

Asante Samuel might be solely responsible for my team being in the NFC championship game, but I still wish we didn't sign him so we could go after N.A.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 01/15/2009 - 2:03pm

I second the theory proposed by Bad Doctor. Asomugha allows Wilson to play in the box and ignore the threat of the flanker, when you couple this with the ultra-aggressive 46ish tendencies of the Ryan clan, it's only natural that Wilson will be near the line. For the icing on the cake, try to work out if anyone in the Raiders' front seven is actually likely to tackle a runner and there you have it!

by ChicagoRaider (not verified) :: Thu, 01/15/2009 - 2:49pm

Kirk Morrison has a huge number of tackles, fifth in the league, for both tackles and assists. Thomas Howard is 37th.

In terms of solo tackles, Morrison is 7th, and Howard is 29th.

So yes, they are likely to tackle runners.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 01/15/2009 - 4:04pm

Firstly, the final point was a joke at the Raiders' expense. However, I would point out that numbers of tackles isn't direct evidence of the ability to play the run. Both Howard and Morrison have a reputation of being a little soft when teams run right at them.

You could say, "they are likely to tackle runners, eventually." ;-)

by Independent George :: Thu, 01/15/2009 - 2:03pm

Isn't this how FO "discovered" Adrian Wilson? I sort-of remember a discussion on DBs defending against the run, and "A. Wilson, ARI" kept showing up at the top of the list.

by Eli (not verified) :: Thu, 01/15/2009 - 2:06pm

I've heard contradictory things about Asomugha's contract -- are the Raiders able to franchise him again or does he have a clause that does not allow them to apply it again? Does anyone know definitively? This is like the FO equivalent of LeBron in 2010.

by Jimmy :: Thu, 01/15/2009 - 2:42pm

As far as I am aware the Raiders can tag Asomugha for whichever is the greater amount between the average of the top five salaries at his position or a 20% increase on what he received last year. I would imagine that the 20% increase is the bigger amount which would equate to $11.7m (according to USA Today database). However good he is that would be an awful lot of money to give to a player whilst only allowing you to keep him for one year.

I have said before that if I were Asomugha's agent I would have already told Davis that if he tries to tag my client so he can trade him I would have Asomugha sign the contract as soon as is humanly possible and refuse to come to financial terms with any team he tried to shop him to. There is no reason for Asomugha to take part in Davis' little charade to recoup value for a player he should have re-signed a long time ago. Make it clear to Davis that his options are simple; pay him just short of $12m for one season or let him walk. No tag and trade, it could reduce the number of teams interested in Asomugha and therefore potentially reduce his income.

by daddymag :: Thu, 01/15/2009 - 2:08pm

Is this not also an indication of the Raider LBs inability to do their own jobs for themselves?

by Temo :: Thu, 01/15/2009 - 2:28pm

Look-- Asomugha is good. Very good. Probably the best. But lets not treat him as a game breaker or anything like that-- with current rules as they are for pass defenders, no CB will be on that level.

Furthermore, a lot of his value on this site has been derived from the reluctance of his opponents to throw at him, which is not AS impressive since it's all indicative of the talent at the other positions as much as himself.

The point of all this is such: Gibril Wilson has been an excellent run stopper before he ever got paired up with Asomugha. And there's no reason to go ascribing everything that happens in the Raider's secondary or pass defense in general to his presence in the lineup.

by ChicagoRaider (not verified) :: Thu, 01/15/2009 - 2:59pm

Well, it is a team game. That said, the only receiver that Nnamdi did not make disappear this season was Randy Moss.

When a player is good enough to game plan around, he is a game changer. Every team but New England (and the Jets, I guess) game planned around him. Move him to a team with a dominant d-line and the results could be sick.

The problem with evaluating Asomugha, is that it is like squeezing a tube of toothpaste. The effects of his play appear in other places, not the place he is squeezing.

by Temo :: Fri, 01/16/2009 - 2:36pm

Brandon Marshall had some success with him as well.

by Jon Coit (not verified) :: Thu, 01/15/2009 - 3:24pm


by Tim R :: Thu, 01/15/2009 - 4:31pm

Isn't the reason he didn't make Moss disappear because the Raiders decided to man him up on Welker.

by MJK :: Thu, 01/15/2009 - 5:35pm

The weird thing that I remember from that game is that Cassel seemed to by TRYING to target Asomugah, no matter who he was covering. The weirder thing is that it worked (although it did work better for Moss than for other people).

I think the Patriots noticed that the Raiders would man Asomugah up and trust him to cover his guy alone (a pretty good strategy), freeing up safeties to do other things (like, apparently tackle running backs). The Pats mantra this past year was to always throw to the single-covered receiver, especially if that reciever is Moss, and so they were attacking him. From what I'd heard about him, I'm actually surprised that they had so much success...did they find some weakness in his game to exploit, did he just have an off day, or was asking him to single cover the Pats very good recievers with a very bad front seven providing no pressure too much even for him?

by Bobman :: Thu, 01/15/2009 - 5:00pm

Joe Addai's first NFL run in the first (and so far, only, sniff) Manning Bowl a few years back, was an 8-10 yard gain toward the left sideline, at the end of which he lowered his shoulder and creamed Wilson.

I bought his jersey shortly thereafter.

by parker (not verified) :: Thu, 01/15/2009 - 5:42pm

I remember Irvin killing Darrell Green in 91 after he discovered a flaw in his technique. Maybe the Pats did something similar to Ashaofingioufguga

by MJK :: Thu, 01/15/2009 - 5:45pm

Could one contributing factor for Wilson's high run support numbers be that, because the Raiders weren't very good last year, their opponents were often leading late in the game and hence were pounding the ball a lot to burn clock?

by LarryinLA (not verified) :: Thu, 01/15/2009 - 5:51pm

Oakland has seen 542 running attempts on the season, most in the league, only four other teams are over 500 attempts. They also give up a whopping 4.7 yards/carry. It stands to reason the safties are going to be making more run tackles. Also, if Wilson made his tackles at the usual saftey depth, Oakland would be giving up more than 5.0 yds/carry. So, this has to be out of neccesity.

The other teams similarly situated are the Chiefs, Lions, Broncos and Rams. They all have spectacularly bad pass defense as well, so it isn't surprising to see unique stats from Wilson. That said, it'd be very interesting to look at film to see exactly how Wilson ends up in position to make so many tackles so close to the line.

by Jeff M (not verified) :: Thu, 01/15/2009 - 7:16pm

He was also instrumental to my fantasy championship. My league starts 1 DB and 1 DL/LB, and up until this year, they only got points for sacks and turnovers, so they weren't worth drafting. This year we added 1 point per solo tackle, and I got Patrick Willis and Gibril Wilson late in the draft, since no one had figured out how much that would change their value.

by Cabbage :: Thu, 01/15/2009 - 9:31pm

I read this as "Khalil Gibran Hates Your Running Back"

by Whatev (not verified) :: Fri, 01/16/2009 - 4:16am

I think this discovery just illustrates how badly weak lines are crippling Oakland.