Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

06 Dec 2012

NFL Leaders in Defeats, Weeks 1-13

As many readers know, we track a bunch of defensive stats as well as offensive stats. One of our defensive stats is called Defeats. It adds up all plays (tackles, assists, passes defensed, etc.) that are:

1) tackles for a loss
2) turnovers
3) stop offense from converting third or fourth down

Here are the leaders in Defeats through Week 13:

41: J.J. Watt, HOU
33: Von Miller, DEN
28: DeMeco Ryans, PHI
26: Lavonte David, TB
25: Ronde Barber, TB
23: Geno Atkins, CIN
22: Jerrell Freeman, IND
22: Curtis Lofton, NO
22: Aldon Smith, SF
22: Daryl Washington, ARI
21: Nick Barnett, BUF
21: Jo-Lonn Dunbar, STL
21: Casey Hayward, GB
21: Luke Kuechly, CAR
21: Jason Pierre-Paul, NYG

Hayward is a stunner, right there. Green Bay's rookie nickelback has five picks, but he also has six PDs on third down plus one on fourth, eight tackles that stopped a third-down reception short of the sticks, and a pass deflection that led to an interception by Eric Walden.

Please, no complaints about how this list looks at just totals, not rates of Defeats per team's defensive play, or per snap, or whatever. If you complain, you aren't getting any more quick stat XPs that I put together before dinner. Heh.

Over the offseason, I'm hoping to get the various FO programming folks to put together a database where I can publicly update the defensive stats on the site during the season instead of just having them in a spreadsheet on my hard drive. It's sort of silly that we're not putting these out there weekly.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 06 Dec 2012

49 comments, Last at 11 Dec 2012, 9:45am by trendy4u blog


by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 8:40pm

Lavonte David is going to be appearing on this list for a very long time. Very fast, very smart, and very good. Ronde #4 as well. Too bad the corners are so awful this year.

by RussMiller (not verified) :: Sat, 12/08/2012 - 3:39am

Agreed. Sure hope Barber re-ups for another couple of years. The transition worked out better than anyone imagined. That CB problem is really killing them. Death by Adderall. Maybe Gaitor will shock everyone with all the film wisdom he's picked up on IR. Everyone else besides Biggers is just getting blown up, and Biggers ain't quite above average yet, either.

by Vincent Verhei :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 8:41pm

By the way, here is a full list of players who had 40-plus Defeats in a season since 1997:

1998: Zach Thomas, MIA (40); Ed McDaniel, MIN (40)

1999: Ray Lewis, BAL (45); Derrick Brooks, TB (42)

2012: J.J. Watt, HOU (41)

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 8:51pm

Yowza. I guess it's impossible to give the MVP to a non-QB, but Watt is Gretzkying some defensive records this year. It's impressive.

by Insancipitory :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 9:06pm

So, Vonn Miller may be havin a Ray Lewis-esque signature season, and that Watt might still be much better. If Miller's is an NFL Icon type season, what's that make Watt's, NFL Mythic?

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 3:10am

I'd vote for either NFL Ethereal or NFL Celestial.

by Bobman :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 1:52pm

Awesome verb. Must use whenever possible. "Honey, you really Gretzkied dinner tonight. Son, you totally Gretzkied that math test."

by RickD :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 9:06pm

By induction*, we can conclude that Von Miller will get at least 7 more defeats this season, since the number of players with 40-plus Defeats in any season must be even.

*not really

by Vincent Verhei :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 9:13pm

Perhaps you are misinterpreting the data and Jason Pierre-Paul will get 19 Defeats in the final four games.

by Aaron Schatz :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 9:50pm

I had this scratching in the back of my head that said, "Go look up the historical Defeats stats before you make dinner," but I forgot to do it. Um, whoops. And wow. Thanks for checking that, Vince.

The previous record for Defeats by a defensive lineman belongs to Robert Porcher, 37 in 1997, followed by Michael Strahan with 35 in 2003.

I'll try to break down 1996 and maybe 1995 before the end of the season so we have those seasons of individual defense numbers to compare to Watt too.

by tuluse :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 9:30pm

Can you tell me how many defeats Tim Jennings has?

According to pfr, Tim Jennings has 8 picks, 19 passes defended, and is 4th on the team with 49 tackles. Surely some of those must have been 3rd down stops.

by Vincent Verhei :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 2:50am

17. PDs only count as Defeats if they come on third or fourth down, or lead to interceptions. Also, he has zero run Defeats. He's third on the team behind Urlacher and Briggs, who have 20 each.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 4:09am

For clarification, who would get credit for the defeat if one player batted the ball on a PD and another defender intercepted on the ricochet?

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 12:55pm

I would have thought that in the pursuit of sustainable factors you would treat all batted passes equally until it can be shown that batting the ball for picks is a skill.

by tuluse :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 12:58pm

Thanks Vince.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 9:39pm

I always thought Ed McDaniel was a pretty good player, prior to getting injured.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 9:46pm

I'm very happy that Hayward has turned into the player Patrick Lee was supposed to be. Thompson has had some poor picks, but I still think Pat Lee is one of the worst that no one talks about. Justin Harrell being clearly the worst, but Lee was a 2nd round pick who didn't do much of anything, and Hayward just makes me see what a late 2nd rounder can do when you get lucky.

by justanothersteve :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 9:58pm

People don't talk about Lee because he was picked just after Brohm. It's hard to be the team's worst pick in a draft when you're drafted after a guy who couldn't make the team his second season and was out of the league after his third year.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 12:27am

The Brohm pick is one that I just black out of my memory, but yes it's worse than the Lee pick.

by evenchunkiermonkey :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 7:24am

But not as bad as the '04 Packers draft, which I can't forget no matter how much I drink.

1st- Ahmad Carroll. CB.
3rd -Joey Thomas CB
3rd - Donnell Washington DT
3rd - BJ Sander. Punter.
6th Corey Williams DT (who would later be traded for the Brohm pick)
7th - Scott Wells. C.

Pat Lee was a disapointment and Brohm didnt work out, sure...but never has so little been done with so much by a Packers GM than in 2004. I think I need a beer.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 9:59am

On the bright side, to get a player like Wells in the 7th is quite a coup.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 10:17am

Well yeah, but that wasn't Thompson, that was still Sherman. That was a big reason for the 4-12 season in 05. Throwing away a draft will bite you at some point in time, and really I think the Sherman drafting took till about 08 - 09 before they had fully recovered. I'm aware of the 07 season, but while I hated how he handled the end of the career Stubbleface still had the ability to pick a team by himself.

by justanothersteve :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 10:32am

I'm still not over trading up to get Sander.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 9:52pm

Out of curiosity, how many of JJ Watt's crazy number of passes batted down were on third or fourth down and qualify for this list?
I know I could probably look this up, but what do I look like? A guy who's not lazy?

by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 10:09pm

I respect a man who is honest about his vices.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 11:42pm

By my quick count, 3.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 11:48pm

Thanks. I actually did try to look that up, but the notation of it in the play-by-play on ESPN seemed to be a little inconsistent. And if it was going to be more complicated than ctrl+F, then it was well outside the boundaries of my persistence.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 1:16pm

I've started to look to the play by play on PFR more. ESPN was actually a good source for that, but I've also noticed that they have gotten a bit wonkier with notation recently. Though I don't know if PFR does any better with tipped passes and such.

Oh and because it truly is negligent on my part to have posted as many words in this comment thread as I have without saying it. JJ Watt is a beast.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 10:26pm

For whatever reason, the only time I ever think to go to PFR is when I need to get some very split out stats. I need to start working them into more regular rotation.

by Guest789 :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 1:37am

Pro Football Focus has been on the Hayward bandwagon for a while, I'm glad to see that backed up here. I'm more excited about his future than any rookie I can remember.


“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”

by abernethyj :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 4:18am

We Panthers fans are pretty excited about Kuechly's as well :)

by Vincent Verhei :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 4:10am

"Stops: The total number of plays by a defensive player that prevent a successful play by the offense, defined as 45% of needed yards on first down, 60% of needed yards on second down, and 100% of needed yards on third or fourth down. In general, "plays" refers to tackles, passes defensed, fumbles forced, or interceptions. The exception is when discussing pass defense data from the FO game charting project, in which case "plays" refers to all charted passes with the given player as the listed defender."

J.J. Watt leads the league with 73 Stops. The next 34 players in this category are all linebackers. J.J. Watt is a 3-4 end.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 4:26am

Sweet Jeebus. The man is unbelievable. I know Richard Seymour was a stat-compiling machine from that position, but I can't think of another 3-4 DE recently that really showed up on the stat sheet in a big way. I'm sure they're out there, but I just can't think of any.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 8:35am

Seymour was hugely impressive, of course, but I'm not sure he really compares: Watt has more than twice as many sacks through 12 games as Seymour ever managed in a season. You're probably more looking at Bruce Smith or Reggie White as comparisons, and even then Watt's only 2.5 sacks away from matching Smith's total of 19 from 1990, which as far as I can tell is the most ever by a 3-4 DE. And that's without even considering that he's already blown away White's record for passes defensed by a DL.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 12:27pm

Interesting. I guess I've never gone back and watched any of those Bills teams from the 90's. I always just assumed that they primarily ran a 4-3. Probably because Smith put up such great numbers, which I don't really associate with 3-4 Defensive Ends.

by tuluse :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 1:14pm

Wade Phillips was also the defensive coordinator for the Bills from 95-97. So they were probably running a similar scheme which is not what most people think of when they hear "3-4". It's a one gap penetration based defense, not a clogging read and react or zone-blitz confusion scheme.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 8:35pm

That's true, but Smith's best years were earlier, under Walt Corey prior to Wade's arrival. They were already running a 3-4, though I'm afraid I couldn't tell you what flavour.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 12:58pm

I agree, Phillips' 3-4 is more of a 5-2 and allows Smith and Watt to be much more aggressive than most 3-4s. Though that doesn't stop Watt from being a big load of scary.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 8:31pm

And they spend about half the time at DT in a 4 man front with extra DBs anyway. Watt's already well past the all time single season sack mark for a Wade Phillips DE, though, even with 4 games still to play.

by Karl Cuba :: Sat, 12/08/2012 - 1:02am

There is quite a lot of talk about which is the best out of the three amazing players from last year's draft and my answer is 'Who cares?'. It's rare that a defender has the kind of impact that we've seen from Miller, Watt and A. Smith, three at once is just nasty. Each team is probably ecstatic with each of them, worrying about how to pay them and not overly concerned with how the others are operating in another scheme.

That said, I do think Aldon Smith will have to break the sack record to win DMVP and his lack of tackles for a loss shouldn't be held against him, the niners have the best run defense (by DVOA) in the league but very few tackles behind the line of scrimmage, that's not how they try to defend the run.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Sat, 12/08/2012 - 2:44am

I totally agree with this line of thought. I don't see a lot of Aldon Smith because I don't watch many NFC games, but a lot of people I trust are blown away by him, and what little I've seen looks pretty amazing. Miller and Watt have also been fantastic. We're very lucky as fans to see such a compelling race for DMVP.
I've seen a lot of discussion/debate about who is the best of the rookie quarterbacks, I have my opinion, but I absolutely don't care. The fact that we get to see such an impressive crop of rookies means that all of us are winners, regardless of who winds up being ROY.

by abernethyj :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 4:22am

In the interest of rookie fairness, could we get a breakdown of Kuechly's defeats as well, please?

by Podge (not verified) :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 4:50am

Minor nitpick - doesn't Curtis Lofton play for the Saints now? Good to see Jo-Lonn Dunbar on this list. He's been having a great season.

One query on defeats - it mentions in the descriptions tackles and assists - do you get a full defeat for an assist on a defeating tackle?

by The Ninjalectual :: Sat, 12/08/2012 - 3:26am

Isn't Dunbar the scum who cheap-shotted RGIII in the face after a hit earlier in the year? After that game, I don't see how you can respect any Rams defender. They are all thugs and criminals in my book, and I hope that whole team is relegated to the Big XII next season.

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 12/08/2012 - 9:11pm

Jeff Fisher's teams: not known for playing clean on defense.

by steveishere :: Sat, 12/08/2012 - 4:45pm

Hayward made another nice play in the Arizona game that wont count as a defeat but was still pretty nice. He forced a fumble on a catch that would have gone for a 1st down and the ball went out a yard behind the first down line. He ended up breaking up the 4th down pass on that series but that FF on 1st down is what caused the whole thing to begin with.

by Vincent Verhei :: Sat, 12/08/2012 - 8:38pm

Forced fumbles count as Defeats.

by steveishere :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 1:40am

Oh, I thought it had to be a turnover

by trendy4u blog (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 9:45am

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