Broken Tackles 2012: Offense

Broken Tackles 2012: Offense
Broken Tackles 2012: Offense
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Aaron Schatz

With the draft now in the rearview mirror, it's time to fill Football Outsiders with articles on our various stats from last season. We'll start today with broken tackles. Broken tackles are a stat from game charting, not from the standard play-by-play. We define a "broken tackle" as one of two events: either the ballcarrier escapes from the grasp of the defender, or the defender is in good position for a tackle but the ballcarrier jukes him out of his shoes. If the ballcarrier sped by a slow defender who dived and missed, that didn't count as a broken tackle. We only measured broken tackles for standard plays; volunteers didn't have the time to track them for all special teams plays.

The resulting numbers are subjective, obviously, but there were over two dozen charters involved, so no team's numbers could be overly slanted because of the bias of a single specific charter. We know that there are a other groups on the Web who track broken tackles, and because of the subjectivity, their numbers won't be exactly the same as ours. Given the mistakes that are easy to make when marking players off of television tape, a difference of one or two broken tackles isn't a big deal. But looking at the players with the most and fewest broken tackles does a good job of showing us which ballcarriers are able to power through defenders -- or avoid them with agility -- and which ballcarriers go down quickly when there's contact.

(If you disagree with any of the numbers listed here, you are welcome to suggest specific plays in the comments that we may have marked incorrectly.)

Here is a list of all running backs with at least 20 broken tackles in 2012:

Most Broken Tackles, 2012 RB
Player Team BT Runs Rec Touches BT/Touch 2011 BT
LeSean McCoy PHI 44 199 55 254 17.3% 50
Adrian Peterson MIN 44 348 40 388 11.3% 26
Doug Martin TB 41 319 49 368 11.1% --
C.J. Spiller BUF 34 207 43 250 13.6% 17
Trent Richardson CLE 31 267 51 318 9.7% --
Jonathan Dwyer PIT 29 156 18 174 16.7% 2
Arian Foster HOU 28 351 40 391 7.2% 32
Frank Gore SF 27 258 28 286 9.4% 12
Ray Rice BAL 27 257 61 318 8.5% 29
Player Team BT Runs Rec Touches BT/Touch 2011 BT
Jacquizz Rodgers ATL 26 94 53 147 17.7% 19
DeMarco Murray DAL 26 162 35 197 13.2% 14
Marshawn Lynch SEA 26 315 23 338 7.7% 34
Alfred Morris WAS 26 335 11 346 7.5% --
Isaac Redman PIT 24 110 19 129 18.6% 22
Reggie Bush MIA 24 227 35 262 9.2% 29
Vick Ballard IND 22 211 17 228 9.6% --
Steven Jackson STL 21 257 38 295 7.1% 20
Joique Bell DET 20 82 52 134 14.9% --

Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy tie for the lead in broken tackles for 2012; this is McCoy's second straight year on top, as he was first by his lonesome in 2011. The rookie class of 2012 makes a big impression when it comes to broken tackles, with two rookies breaking at least 30 tackles and another two breaking at least 20. (Joique Bell is not a rookie, he just didn't play in 2011.)

Ignoring players like Jonathan Dwyer who jumped in broken tackles because they only had a handful of carries in 2011, the running backs who saw the biggest rise in broken tackle numbers include Peterson, Spiller, Murray, and Gore. Gore's numbers tell a very interesting story. We had him with only 11 broken tackles in 2010 and 12 last year. His performance on the field absolutely did not live up to his reputation as a power back. But things really bounced back in 2012, lending support to the idea that Gore's huge season (a career-high 17.4% DVOA, fourth in the NFL) was not simply the result of strong blocking from the 49ers' excellent offensive line.

Who saw their broken tackle stats drop? The biggest name is Matt Forte, whose broken tackle stats have bounced all around since we started tracking this. Fore had 27 broken tackles in 2009, 15 in 2010, 36 in 2011, and then only 15 in 2012. He's probably been the most inconsistent player in the league when it comes to broken tackles. Also, Chris Johnson went from 30 to 16 and Willis McGahee went from 22 to 11. Most other players who saw their broken tackles drop were players with a big decrease in touches; for example, Maurice Jones-Drew went from 37 broken tackles in 2011 to just nine in 2012.

(If you are looking for full numbers from past years, you will find 2011 here and 2010 here.)

Here's another way to look at things, the highest and lowest rates of broken tackles per play. We're adding together catches and carries to get the total number of touches for each player. This is just running backs, with a minimum of 80 touches:

Highest Broken Tackle Rate, 2012 RB
Player Team BT Runs Rec Touches BT/Touch
Isaac Redman PIT 24 110 19 129 18.6%
Jacquizz Rodgers ATL 26 94 53 147 17.7%
LeSean McCoy PHI 44 199 55 254 17.3%
Jonathan Dwyer PIT 29 156 18 174 16.7%
Bernard Pierce BAL 19 108 7 115 16.5%
Joique Bell DET 20 82 52 134 14.9%
C.J. Spiller BUF 34 207 43 250 13.6%
Marcel Reece OAK 15 59 52 111 13.5%
Bryce Brown PHI 17 115 13 128 13.3%
DeMarco Murray DAL 26 162 35 197 13.2%
Lowest Broken Tackle Rate, 2012 RB
Player Team BT Runs Rec Touches BT/Touch
Beanie Wells ARI 0 88 1 89 0.0%
Jackie Battle SD 3 95 15 110 2.7%
Ronnie Hillman DEN 3 85 10 95 3.2%
Shonn Greene NYJ 10 275 19 294 3.4%
Alex Green GB 6 133 20 153 3.9%
Stevan Ridley NE 12 290 6 296 4.1%
Michael Bush CHI 5 114 9 123 4.1%
Donald Brown IND 5 108 9 117 4.3%
Danny Woodhead NE 5 76 40 116 4.3%
Jonathan Stewart CAR 5 93 17 110 4.5%

One thing that's very obvious from this table is how much the Pittsburgh Steelers emphasize tackle-breaking ability at their running back position. The third Steelers running back, Rashard Mendenhall (now in Arizona) broke nine tackles on 60 touches, a rate of 15.0 percent. That's going to be a big step up for the Cardinals compared to Beanie Wells. Your eyes do not decive you; we really didn't record a single broken tackle for Wells in 2012 after he had 15 in 2011. Maybe we missed one or two somewhere, but still, ugh. There are some other surprising names on the table of lowest broken tackle rates. Stevan Ridley and Jonathan Stewart are both known as powerful backs who can break tackles, but they didn't do too much of it in 2012. Stewart had 21 broken tackles in 2011, so perhaps it was just an off year for him.

Cam Newton easily led all quarterbacks in broken tackles this season. There are two kinds of broken tackles for quarterbacks: standard broken tackles on runs past the line of scrimmage, and what Bill Simmons calls "Houdinis," plays where a quarterback escaped a possible sack.

Most Broken Tackles, 2012 QB
Player Team BT Houdinis Past LOS
Cam Newton CAR 21 10 11
Russell Wilson SEA 13 10 3
Robert Griffin WAS 12 6 6
Michael Vick PHI 8 7 1
Andrew Luck IND 6 5 1
Tony Romo DAL 6 6 0
Mark Sanchez NYJ 6 6 0
Jay Cutler CHI 5 3 2
Andy Dalton CIN 5 5 0
Aaron Rodgers GB 5 4 1

Percy Harvin once again led all wide receivers and tight ends with 19 broken tackles. He was down in 2011 (just six), but had led the league in both 2009 and 2010. Here are all wide receivers and tight ends with at least 10 broken tackles in 2012:

Most Broken Tackles, 2012 WR/TE
Player Team BT Runs Rec Touches BT/Touch
Percy Harvin MIN 19 21 63 84 22.6%
Dez Bryant DAL 16 2 92 94 17.0%
Michael Crabtree SF 14 0 86 86 16.3%
Brandon Marshall CHI 14 0 119 119 11.%
Golden Tate SEA 14 0 48 48 29.2%
Randall Cobb GB 13 10 80 90 14.4%
Darrius Heyward-Bey OAK 11 2 41 43 25.6%
Tony Gonzalez ATL 10 0 93 93 10.8%
Julio Jones ATL 10 6 79 85 11.8%

Finally, here's the overall list for broken tackles on offense:

Broken Tackles by Offenses, 2012
Offense Plays Plays w BT Total BT Pct Plays w BT
PHI 1069 85 95 8.0%
MIN 985 77 87 7.8%
PIT 1009 76 92 7.5%
ATL 1008 73 82 7.2%
DAL 1032 70 91 6.8%
WAS 983 66 69 6.7%
BUF 970 62 71 6.4%
TB 997 63 71 6.3%
SF 953 58 74 6.1%
BAL 1025 61 68 6.0%
MIA 958 56 65 5.8%
SEA 958 54 68 5.6%
OAK 1022 57 69 5.6%
NO 1051 58 66 5.5%
ARI 1013 53 59 5.2%
CIN 993 51 59 5.1%
Offense Plays Plays w BT Total BT Pct Plays w BT
CAR 976 50 58 5.1%
HOU 1072 54 60 5.0%
STL 980 49 52 5.0%
GB 1023 50 55 4.9%
TEN 950 46 48 4.8%
IND 1082 49 51 4.5%
DET 1151 51 53 4.4%
DEN 1062 47 52 4.4%
JAC 986 41 47 4.2%
CLE 990 41 50 4.1%
NE 1171 47 52 4.0%
NYJ 1025 40 43 3.9%
KC 1002 39 41 3.9%
CHI 980 38 47 3.9%
SD 971 37 42 3.8%
NYG 955 35 39 3.7%

In a few days, we'll look at broken tackles for defenses and defensive players.


41 comments, Last at 29 Dec 2015, 12:26pm

#1 by Nathan // Apr 29, 2013 - 2:57pm


Points: 0

#31 by Bobman // Apr 30, 2013 - 2:32pm

That's "DH the new Colt B." I guess management wasn't kidding with their emphasis on running the ball and stopping the run, even when signing WRs. Catching, it seems, might be optional. But once you have the ball, dammit, you better make the other guys pay. I'm looking forward to DHB playing with a more consistent QB and quality receivers across from him. Live up to his draft slot? Not likel. But solid contributor? I hope so.

Points: 0

#2 by justanothersteve // Apr 29, 2013 - 4:07pm

This helps explain why Randall Cobb was often in the Green Bay backfield instead of Alex Green (the Anti-Weeble). Starks, for all his fragility, can also break an occasional tackle. While I wasn't thrilled by the Packers drafting Lacy in the second round, my disappointment is based on value selection and not about recognizing the need for a real RB next to Rodgers.

Points: 0

#7 by DisplacedPackerFan // Apr 29, 2013 - 4:31pm

Green was still injured for most of last year. McGinn spoke several times that he still had swelling in the knee after every game. Then sitting the week with the concussion caused scar tissue build up and put him on the bench. I'm not saying he is really good or anything, but he is the back that I'd put my money on sticking around still. Franklin and Lacy are both going to make the team, and I don't think they are going to carry four halfbacks this year so I think Starks and Harris are gone.

Cobb was also in the backfield to try and mess with defenses, and even with Lacy/Franklin getting the bulk of the carries I still expect to see Cobb back there at times, possibly even more than last year.

Points: 0

#12 by speedegg // Apr 29, 2013 - 6:10pm

I agree, Cobb was used in the Packer's "Cobra Package" with him in the backfield. By alignment that matches him up on a linebacker or safety, which is an advantage on passing downs. Cobb can also be used on running plays, but not 25 runs a game.

For those "traditional" runs (power, counter, iso-lead, etc) I think Lacy/Franklin would be better suited.

Points: 0

#17 by justanothersteve // Apr 29, 2013 - 9:32pm

All that is true. Still doesn't change that Alex Green has been a poor runner who falls down at contact.

Points: 0

#3 by Harris // Apr 29, 2013 - 4:14pm

The problem is that McCoy was often breaking tackles in the backfield.

Points: 0

#10 by Aaron Schatz // Apr 29, 2013 - 5:47pm

Out of curiosity on this, I used the yards after contact data we have from ESPN Stats & Information to look for plays with broken tackles which took place behind the line of scrimmage (i.e. plays with a broken tackle where yards gained are actually smaller than yards after contact).

I apologize that this represents PLAYS with a broken tackle behind the LOS, not necessarily all actual broken tackles behind the LOS. If there are two broken tackles, you can't tell if the second one is behind or beyond the LOS.

As you might imagine, this is an issue with Philadelphia. McCoy and Doug Martin led the league with eight of these plays apiece. No other back has more than five, but those backs include Arian Foster, Ryan Mathews, Chris Johnson, C.J. Spiller... and Bryce Brown, McCoy's backup.

Adrian Peterson had only four.

Points: 0

#25 by V (not verified) // Apr 30, 2013 - 11:17am

Thanks for this update! I find it interesting that Martin was tied with McCoy (though obviously not tied with Philly). If TB's guards are fully healthy, watch out.

Points: 0

#26 by Kevin from Philly // Apr 30, 2013 - 11:20am

Unfortunately, broken tackles don't seem to correlate to wins.

Points: 0

#4 by DenverCheeze (not verified) // Apr 29, 2013 - 4:17pm

How specifically is broken tackle defined? 1) defender touched the ballcarrier somehow and thus the tackle is broken 2) defender had both hands on the ballcarrier (possibly even trailing from behind or something?) or 3) ballcarrier was stopped in his tracks and still managed to gain X yards after significant contact (like a shove, trip, or some other non-hand contact like a shoulder or helmet contact)? I can also see this being inconsistently applied, but is it at least defined consistently for the charters?

Points: 0

#5 by DenverCheeze (not verified) // Apr 29, 2013 - 4:18pm

nvm re-read the first paragraph. Juking should be missed tackle though , not broken.

Points: 0

#6 by Aaron Brooks G… // Apr 29, 2013 - 4:27pm

"But things really bounced back in 2012, lending support to the idea that Gore's huge season (a career-high 17.4% DVOA, fourth in the NFL) was not simply the result of strong blocking from the 49ers' excellent offensive line."

Have you charted whether the broken tackles were at the line, or at the LBs-secondary level? Because that absolutely is a function of line blocking.

Points: 0

#9 by Aaron Schatz // Apr 29, 2013 - 5:43pm

I'm not quite sure why a broken tackle at the line is a function of the blocking. If a defender is essentially blocked away from a tackle, we do not count that as a broken tackle.

Points: 0

#11 by Karl Cuba // Apr 29, 2013 - 6:03pm

Even though this seems to be another attempt by ABGT to denigrate the niners I can see where he's coming from, it's got to be easier to either juke or run over a guy if you have galloped five yards down field through a gaping hole in the defensive front.

Points: 0

#16 by theslothook // Apr 29, 2013 - 7:44pm

Lol, has ABGT normally been anti 49er? You could technically accuse me of being that sometimes KARL, though honestly, like I tell my 49er friends, praising the 49ers feels like you're just stating the obvious. What to say? They have a lot of talent and a very shrewd coaching staff. Otherwise, yeah they're not too bad.

And for the record - I appear to be dead dead wrong about Kaep, though I stand by the general principle of running qbs.

Points: 0

#13 by Aaron Brooks G… // Apr 29, 2013 - 6:21pm

My argument is that tackling ability is at least somewhat a function of player position. Basically, if you assert that defensive players who play closest to the LOS are the best tacklers, the chance of breaking a tackle, all else equal, rises the further past the LOS one runs.

If the first defender you encounter is Asante Samuel, and not JJ Watt, you have a better chance of breaking that tackle. Was Gore breaking Samuel's tackles, or Watt's?

This isn't a knock on the 49ers -- it's actually the opposite. For all of Barry Sanders ability to embarrass defenders, he seemed much more able to break tackles at the LB or DB level, than in the backfield. he just had a lot more opportunities at backfield broken tackles.

Points: 0

#27 by jimbohead // Apr 30, 2013 - 12:04pm

I had a similar thought, but having less to do with relative "skill" at tackling. If the blocking is good, it should increase chance of broken tackles, not only by washing out the best tacklers, but by giving defenders more difficult angles and worse balance as they approach the ballcarrier. Thus, even if a defender is in position to put a hand on a ballcarrier, and put on some nominal pressure, they may not actually be in position to make a play. I think Beanie Wells' wide variance between last year and this year may be partially explained by this.

Points: 0

#20 by Danny Tuccitto // Apr 30, 2013 - 2:51am

You very well may be bringing up an important point about the importance of breaking tackles at the LOS, but here's the problem: Watch 500 or so running plays (with the all-22 video, even), and try to tell us whether a running back's advancement to the second-level of defenders -- barring a gaping hole -- resulted from his own ability to navigate through the sea of humanity, a defender's inability to succeed at such navigation, a defender's inability to shed a blocker and make the tackle, all of the above, or none of the above.

Successful jukes, stiffarms, and displays of sheer power in open space are easy to see on video, and are therefore unassailable as charting stats go. Nuanced evasion of a front-7 defender in the space of a small crease may be a bona fide RB skill, and blocking a defender just out of tackling reach may be a bona fide OL/FB skill, but evaluating them on video without knowing assignments approaches guessing, which we try to avoid. Basically, although these are likely "real" skills, I don't think they're things behind which we're prepared to put the full weight of a "charting stat."

Points: 0

#28 by Nic (not verified) // Apr 30, 2013 - 12:39pm

That is almost exactly what I was thinking when I saw Marshawn Lynch's lower rate than I expected. He jukes to put a guy in bad position then powers through them. Including when that player is one of three potential tacklers. It makes it difficult to have good position to make a tackle and by that set-up I'd guess that some of the tackles that he broke were not counted because he went down in the process. Or were arm tackles because they were out of position.

I can't help but notice how slippery Seattle is getting now. Marshawn is up there in volume, but Percy Harvin, Golden Tate, and Russell Wilson are all near the top of their positions as well. If Harvin and Tate are getting touches (and Harvin doesn't just steal them from Tate) the broken tackles for Seattle look to go up again. Looks like that's one of the traits they are looking for.

Points: 0

#38 by maxnote // May 02, 2013 - 6:16pm

I was initially surprised when I saw Marshawn Lynch had a relatively low number of broken tackles, but I agree. I think the majority of the time, he isn't really getting past people, he is only driving them backwards to gain a few extra yards.

I was also surprised that Russell Wilson only had 10 pocket escapes; I obviously don't know exactly how it is charted, but I can specifically think of one play in the second SF game where he made Ahmad Brooks miss him twice.

Edit: Looking at it again, I'm not sure that this would qualify as two missed tackles; the first one was more of a dive.
I don't know what point in the game it was, but here is a link to a GIF:

Points: 0

#40 by Richardfg7 (not verified) // May 17, 2013 - 8:31pm

Lynch mainly just doesn't go down. He drags the tacklers with him.

Points: 0

#8 by V (not verified) // Apr 29, 2013 - 4:41pm

Despite the caveat of small sample sized, I'd be very interested in seeing the broken tackle #s spliced by section of the field (backfield vs 0-3 yards in front of LOS vs 3-10, etc.). I would think most RBs are much better at breaking tackles with a full head of steam, which is caused by a good blocking line. Broken tackles at the -2 to +2 yards from LOS are probably the best way to parse out RB ability vs. help from the O-line.

Points: 0

#14 by Aaron Brooks G… // Apr 29, 2013 - 6:22pm

And this is what I was going for in #6.

Points: 0

#15 by DA (not verified) // Apr 29, 2013 - 7:07pm

Too bad I suspect we will never know how many broken Tackles Barry had in his best years. You would think it would be astronomical but who knows

Points: 0

#18 by zenbitz // Apr 29, 2013 - 11:40pm

Kapernick? Obviously for half a season he will not have counting stats.

Points: 0

#19 by Alex (not verified) // Apr 30, 2013 - 1:01am

Alex Green is not a good back, so it's not surprising Cobb is in their backfield. It's shocking to me how poorly GB has been at selecting running backs. They have to be one of the easiest to evaluate positions on the planet.

Points: 0

#22 by justanothersteve // Apr 30, 2013 - 9:18am

Other than QB, I think RB is one of the hardest positions to evaluate. If it were easy, Arien Foster and Alfred Morris wouldn't have been such bargains. It's pretty rare to get an excellent OL, DL, LB, or DB with a low draft pick or UDFA. You can probably mention a couple at each position, but that's about it. Yet most years, there's a new low cost pick who becomes a top RB.

Points: 0

#21 by Stuart (not verified) // Apr 30, 2013 - 6:32am

Dwyer is 23 years old, has hardly any mileage on the clock, a cheap contract (lowest tender), and was on the trade block for a 6th or 7th rounder. He garnered no interest. NFL teams either don't track broken tackles or don't think they are that important in evaluating running backs.

Points: 0

#23 by nat // Apr 30, 2013 - 9:27am

I wonder if there's a way to get a handle on the cost/benefit of attempting to break a tackle or juke a defender vs. trying to "fall forward" for the extra yard or two.

Many's the time we've seen a runner try to evade a tackle, only to give back two or three yards plus the yard or two he would have earned by getting tackled going forward rather than sideways or backwards. If the best tackle-breakers succeed 18% of the time, I wonder what percentage of the time they give up yards trying.

Points: 0

#30 by Bobman // Apr 30, 2013 - 2:28pm

Now THAT is a mighty fine point. At some point in almost every run, a RB has to make the split-second instrinctive decision when to lower his shoulder and ram the guy for a final couple falling-forward yards with an exclamation mark ("take that, linebacker!"), or stop on a dime and try for a spin, juke, cut, etc. With his momentum all but stopped, a good hit will then deprive him of those extra two yards he might have had by playing the battering ram. (and result in a shorter career?) Think guys running along the sideline near a first down--some driuve, dive, hammer for the sticks, some veer out of bounds knowing they'll have another shot. Some might try to cut back in.

I suspect RBs tend to fall into categories and can think of guys who almost always fall forward WITH contact, who almost always fall forward and still seem to AVOID direct shots, etc. There are north-south runners, one-cur runners, jitterbug runners, etc., but nobody can be a one-trick pony every time, can he?

This can probably be modeled and based on observation of a few different backs throughout a season; something like "lower the shoulder and hammer" will result in 5 yards 10% of the time, 3 yards 30%, 2 yards 40% 1 yard 10% and 0 yards 10%. NO negatives. Whereas the "cut or juke" would end up with different percentages but even a 10% chance of going for 20 more yards might make it worth it and outweigh a 25% chance of getting zero more yards....

Points: 0

#32 by nat // Apr 30, 2013 - 3:17pm

At a more macro level, the correlation between team BT% and Offensive VOA in 2012 was +0.11.

So at least it seems that trying to break tackles contributes to offensive production.

On the other hand, the team with the sixth lowest BT% was the league's leading offense. So it's not a necessary focus if you do other things well.

Points: 0

#35 by nat // May 01, 2013 - 10:12am

Of course I know that correlation is not causation.

This definition of a broken tackle pretty much requires that the ball carrier be in a one-on-one situation in the open field. It may be that one way to have a good offense is to get your ball carriers into precisely that situation a lot of the time. In that case, breaking tackles wouldn't cause good offensive results, but instead share the same cause with them.

Or not. It's an interesting problem.

Points: 0

#24 by Dean // Apr 30, 2013 - 10:01am

I'm curious how many BTs Danny Amendola had. The Rams as a team only had 49 and Jackson had 21 of those. It's reasonable to think that just with the loss of those two players, the Rams suddenly only return 20 or so plays with BTs from last year on the rest of their roster combined. When you consider that the Giants were dead last with 35, it makes me wonder where this explosive offense is supposed to come from.

Points: 0

#29 by JonFrum // Apr 30, 2013 - 1:21pm

I don't think jukes belong in the same category as broken tackles. Sometimes a runner will make a cut that avoids defenders entirely, but that's not a one-on-one juke. Is that a 'broken tackle?' Breaking a tackle usually involves power. Juking to make a defender lose his shoes comes from quickness. Breaking a tackle, juking past a defender, and cutting to avoid a defender all fall under 'advancing past a defender,' and all are important, but they are not all 'breaking a tackle.'

Points: 0

#33 by DenverCheeze (not verified) // Apr 30, 2013 - 4:01pm

This is what I was stating above. 'Breaking' a tackle should mean someone has already made contact with the runner in a meaningful way. Define meaningful and you are good.

Points: 0

#34 by Rich A (not verified) // May 01, 2013 - 1:21am

I'm somewhat on board with others regarding some of the confusion regarding what is an isn't a broken tackle.

I don't watch many games besides the NE games but knowing that they rack up the YAC and have a very solid offensive DVOA I was very surprised that they were rated so lowly.

I'd have thought Hernandez would be somewhere on the list and possibly welker or woodhead or ridley. It seems like all these guys break free and get the ball and always make at least one defender miss. It's just that so often the juke happens so far before the defender even has a chance to tackle that maybe these don't qualify. I guess a particular example would be welkers first TD with the patriots against the jets and how he curled just shy of the goal line and the defender could only get a single hand on welker or the following week versus San Diego Welker absolutely juked a lb out of his shoes so that the lb was 3 or 4 yards away and never got close to being the initial tackler and was instead the guy who finished the pile on about 7 yards later. Likewise with Ridley, he doesn't seem to break a lot of these arm tackles because he's usually running past a defender who has an okay angle and then drags him down after a gain, it's not like Ridley has to beat someone in the hole who's half getting blocked, there's player being blocked, theirs free guys and those free guys he usually runs over for 3 or 4 yards.

I think that when the Pittsburgh backs rank so highly with this and yet are completely forgetable and the NE offense is near the bottom of this table yet absolutely scary, I'm not seeing the correlation between this statistic and anything predictive.

Also, I think Forte is great and his line sets up his inconsistent broken tackles performance as currently modeled. I have no data or plays to back this up other than my recollection and eyeball test. Guess statistics and x's and o's is still a somewhat muddled overlap.

Points: 0

#36 by Nathan // May 01, 2013 - 11:54am

I'm sure all the time Hernandez missed last year with injuries and having a nagging high ankle sprain all year was a big factor in his not appearing on this list.

Points: 0

#37 by zlionsfan // May 02, 2013 - 9:31am

There are three things I think it would help to keep in mind when talking about broken tackles:

-- Our instructions with respect to broken tackles are actually a lot more detailed; Aaron probably simplified it above so that he could focus on the data. There are about 20 lines of text in the charting template about broken tackles: what constitutes one, what does not, what to watch for specifically, and what people have marked incorrectly in the past.

-- No matter what the instructions are, they're still going to be subjective, and some of you will have good reasons to support different criteria for broken tackles. The FO guys kind of have to stick with a particular definition, though, otherwise it becomes difficult to make meaningful comparisons between seasons. (There are only so many seasons available on Game Rewind, and it would be a massive project to go back and update broken tackles to match a new definition.)

-- Most of us charters are just amateurs ... even the more experienced among us are just folks who like football enough to rewind a segment a few times to read a number on a white jersey in a game in broad daylight. We wouldn't perfectly match a new definition any more than we match the current one, which is why Aaron asks for examples if you think we might have missed one - I know I've missed other types of things in the past, so I could easily have missed a broken tackle (or recorded one that I shouldn't have), and I'd guess that's true for the other charters as well.

I think it's good to bring up questions about methodology, but in some cases (like this one), there's only so much FO can do, and only so much we charters can do to make it possible. Having two all-22 views on every play in Game Rewind is great, but they're just SD cameras, not HD ... even objective stuff can be impossible to determine at times. (There are some plays where there is no way to identify a specific player on the field - they never appear in any of the angles clearly enough.) Give it a few more years, and maybe with a better set of tools, we can nail this stuff down a bit better.

Points: 0

#39 by locococbj962 // May 14, 2013 - 6:01am

I don't think jukes belong in the same category as broken tackles. Sometimes a runner will make a cut that avoids defenders entirely, but that's not a one-on-one juke. Is that a 'broken tackle?' Breaking a tackle usually involves power. Juking to make a defender lose his shoes comes from quickness. Breaking a tackle, juking past a defender, and cutting to avoid a defender all fall under 'advancing past a defender,' and all are important, but they are not all 'breaking a tackle thanks!

Points: 0

#41 by galaxyapple // Dec 29, 2015 - 12:26pm

this writing shows that you have great writing skills.. well done

Points: 0

Save 10%
& Support Aaron
Support Football Outsiders' independent media and Aaron Schatz. Use promo code SCHATZ to save 10% on any FO+ membership and give half the cost of your membership to tip Aaron.