2014 Pressure Plays: Defenses
by Sterling Xie
After checking out our charting numbers on how quarterbacks handled pressure last week, we're turning our attention to the other side of the ball and looking at defensive pressure DVOA. League-wide averages didn't change much -- pressure rate went from 24.8 percent in 2013 to 24.6 percent last season, while pressure DVOA (-76.0%) was essentially the same as last year (-75.0%).
On a larger scale, NFL defenses are creating more pressure, but with less success. The last two seasons have generated the highest pressure rates since 2010, but the defensive DVOA figures have been a little bit worse than the three-year average (-82.2%) from 2010-12. One might be tempted to pin causation on the officials' increased emphasis on coverage penalties, but DVOA only includes defensive pass interference, not illegal contact or defensive holding. And in the last two years, the average number of total DPIs (231) has only seen a slight uptick from the 2010-12 average (223), a minimal number when considering that those eight extra penalties are spread over 267 regular-season and postseason games. While the lesser DVOA is still nothing to sneeze at, pressure is another area where offenses are gradually making inroads and tilting the playing field in their favor.
Because of this, it's less surprising to see that creating pressure doesn't necessarily lead to good pressure defense. In 2014, the correlation between pressure rate and pressure DVOA was 0.06, while the pressure rate-non-pressure DVOA correlation was -0.02. In general, though, pressure rate hasn't shown much year-to-year consistency in reflecting how defenses will perform:
|Pressure Rate Correlation w/DVOA|
|Year||vs. Pressure DVOA||vs. Non-Pressure DVOA|