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Broken Tackles 2014: Defenses

by Vincent Verhei

Earlier this week, we looked at broken tackles from the offense's point of view. Today we're going to turn things around and look at which defenses allowed the most runners to slip through their arms -- and which put them on the ground right away.

First, we must explain how we came to these totals. The next few paragraphs are going to be repeated from our earlier piece, so if you already read about offenses and missed tackles, feel free to skip down to the next subhead.

Historically, we have defined a "broken tackle" as one of two events: either the ball carrier escapes from the grasp of the defender, or the defender is in good position for a tackle but the ball carrier jukes him out of his shoes. If the ball carrier sped by a slow defender who dived and missed, that didn't count as a broken tackle. It also doesn't count as a broken tackle if a defender gets a hand on the ball carrier but is effectively being blocked out of the play by another offensive player. We only measure broken tackles for standard plays; volunteers didn't have the time to track them for all special teams plays.

This year, we added a third category, "dragged" broken tackles where defenders were able to bring the ball carrier to the ground, but only after the runner had gained at least 5 yards from the point where the tackle started. We seemed like a reasonable compromise to deal with plays we had struggled with in years past, where what looked like a broken tackle would end up with a defender getting marked with a tackle or assist by the NFL because he was the last player to make contact before a ballcarrier fell down ten yards later. There weren't very many of those plays; no defender was dragged more than four times last year.

We recorded significantly more broken tackles in 2014 than in any previous season, but we want to make it clear: that jump has to do with our methods. We don't want these numbers to encourage any "tackling in the NFL is getting worse" narratives. Between 2009 and 2013, league totals on broken tackles fell between 1,975 (2012) and 2,236 (2009). In 2014, we marked a total of 2,644 broken tackles.

The addition of "dragged" tackles was roughly half of the reason for the increase. The other reason was that any plays where ESPN Stats & Information marked a minimum of 5 yards after contact were specifically flagged to indicate to game charters that they should be particularly mindful of broken tackles. Unfortunately, it's the nature of charting to be subjective. We believe that flagging these plays for charters actually resulted in more accurate numbers than in previous seasons. But obviously, when comparing 2013 and 2014 totals below, be aware that the average player should have a 20-25 percent increase in broken tackles per play simply because of the change in our charting methodology.

The natural variation that comes with subjectivity is tempered by the fact that 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. (In addition, as we have done in past years, we spent time after the season reviewing plays from the charters with the highest and lowest rates of broken tackles marked.) We know that there are 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 defenders are stopping runners in their tracks, and which are getting trampled into the turf.

Broken Tackle 'Leaderboards'

The following table lists all defenders who gave up at least 10 broken tackles. It is nearly twice as long as last year's table, for all the reasons we listed above.

Most Broken Tackles by Defenders, 2014
Player Team Pos BT Solo Tkl
(w/o ST)
Rate BT
2013

Player Team Pos BT Solo Tkl
(w/o ST)
Rate BT
2013
Josh Evans JAC DB 22 70 23.9% 10
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix GB DB 12 69 14.8% --
Charles Woodson OAK DB 21 92 18.6% 12
K.J. Wright SEA LB 12 91 11.7% 9
Ron Parker KC DB 20 88 18.5% 0
Nickell Robey BUF DB 11 35 23.9% 2
Rashad Johnson ARI DB 17 79 17.7% 6
Antoine Bethea SF DB 11 76 12.6% 6
Michael Griffin TEN DB 17 98 14.8% 7
Telvin Smith JAC LB 11 87 11.2% --
Jonathan Cyprien JAC DB 17 93 15.5% 10
Darius Butler IND DB 11 41 21.2% 4
Ryan Clark WAS DB 16 78 17.0% 9
Rey Maualuga CIN LB 11 43 20.4% 6
Greg Toler IND DB 15 54 21.7% 3
Nigel Bradham BUF LB 11 72 13.3% 2
Paul Worrilow ATL LB 15 106 12.4% 5
James Ihedigbo DET DB 11 64 14.7% 12
Rodney McLeod STL DB 14 64 17.9% 8
Antrel Rolle NYG DB 11 70 13.6% 9
Mike Adams IND DB 14 79 15.1% 3
Josh Mauga KC LB 11 93 10.6% --
Morgan Burnett GB DB 14 104 11.9% 6
Lawrence Timmons PIT LB 11 101 9.8% 7
Larry Foote ARI LB 14 68 17.1% 1
Barry Church DAL DB 11 82 11.8% 8
Player Team Pos BT Solo Tkl
(w/o ST)
Rate BT
2013

Player Team Pos BT Solo Tkl
(w/o ST)
Rate BT
2013
Kendrick Lewis HOU DB 13 65 16.7% 9
Coty Sensabaugh TEN DB 10 43 18.9% 2
Janoris Jenkins STL DB 13 54 19.4% 8
Antonio Cromartie ARI DB 10 45 18.2% 2
D'Qwell Jackson IND LB 13 106 10.9% 5
Quintin Demps NYG DB 10 38 20.8% 5
David Hawthorne NO LB 13 62 17.3% 7
J.T. Thomas JAC LB 10 61 14.1% 1
Alec Ogletree STL LB 13 91 12.5% 13
Keenan Lewis NO DB 10 39 20.4% 2
DeAndre Levy DET LB 13 129 9.2% 8
Antonio Allen NYJ DB 10 37 21.3% 4
E.J. Gaines STL DB 12 65 15.6% --
Thomas DeCoud CAR DB 10 35 22.2% 10
Jimmy Wilson MIA DB 12 52 18.8% 1
Aaron Williams BUF DB 10 59 14.5% 1
D.J. Swearinger HOU DB 12 61 16.4% 8
Kenny Vaccaro NO DB 10 60 14.3% 3
Mychal Kendricks PHI LB 12 67 15.2% 9
Vincent Rey CIN LB 10 90 10.0% 3
Donte Whitner CLE DB 12 87 12.1% 7
Matt Elam BAL DB 10 34 22.7% 11
Kareem Jackson HOU DB 12 51 19.0% 3
J.J. Wilcox DAL DB 10 61 14.1% 4
Dashon Goldson TB DB 12 64 15.8% 13
Miles Burris OAK LB 10 88 10.2% 1


Your favorite team is probably represented in that table somewhere. Only five teams (Chicago, Denver, Minnesota, San Diego, and New England) made it through the season with no individual defender allowing ten or more broken tackles.

It's not surprising that the table is dominated by defensive backs, especially at the very top. It's also not surprising to see so much turnover here. Even though we counted more broken tackles this year than we had before, only eight players have missed ten or more tackles in each of the last two seasons, and only Thomas DeCoud (the patron saint of the missed tackle) has done it three years in a row.

Linebackers

The following table shows the linebackers with the highest and lowest rates of broken tackles (minimum 40 tackles):

Highest Broken Tackle Rate, 2014 Linebackers
Lowest Broken Tackle Rate, 2014 Linebackers
Player Team BT Solo Tkl
(w/o ST)
Rate BT
2013

Player Team BT Solo Tkl
(w/o ST)
Rate BT
2013
Rey Maualuga CIN 11 43 20.4% 6
Jonathan Bostic CHI 0 63 0.0% 7
David Hawthorne NO 13 62 17.3% 7
Mason Foster TB 0 41 0.0% 7
Larry Foote ARI 14 68 17.1% 1
Lavonte David TB 2 110 1.8% 6
Paul Kruger CLE 9 45 16.7% 4
Jerod Mayo NE 1 43 2.3% 2
Brian Cushing HOU 9 50 15.3% 5
Danny Lansanah TB 2 69 2.8% 0
Mychal Kendricks PHI 12 67 15.2% 9
Don't'a Hightower NE 2 64 3.0% 2
Tamba Hali KC 8 47 14.5% 1
James Laurinaitis STL 3 85 3.4% 6
J.T. Thomas JAC 10 61 14.1% 1
Ryan Kerrigan WAS 2 51 3.8% 5
Kroy Biermann ATL 9 58 13.4% 1
Terrell Suggs BAL 2 45 4.3% 4
Nigel Bradham BUF 11 72 13.3% 2
A.J. Hawk GB 3 66 4.3% 8
Gerald Hodges MIN 8 53 13.1% 0
Sam Barrington GB 2 44 4.3% --
Casey Matthews PHI 6 40 13.0% 3
Jasper Brinkley MIN 3 63 4.5% 5


There's no real pattern on the left-hand side of that table, but take a second and let the right side sink in. For all of Tampa Bay's faults (and they are many), their linebackers sure are taking care of business. Do you realize that Lavonte David has still never made it to the Pro Bowl? It's ridiculous. Besides David, there were eight other linebackers last year with at least 100 tackles. All of them missed at least three times as many tackles as David did.

New England's linebackers don't miss a lot of tackles either. You'll recall that New England's own running backs were very poor at breaking tackles last season. We did our best to get multiple pairs of eyeballs on every team and double-check charters with high or low totals of broken tackles, so this shouldn't be a case of charter bias. Perhaps it's so cold in Foxborough that when another person wraps their arms around you, the last thing you want to do is break free.

All told, Tampa Bay's linebackers had the fewest missed tackles with just eight, followed by New England and Chicago with 11 each. Philadelphia and Indianapolis tied for the league lead with 39 missed tackles by linebackers, followed by Cleveland (37).

Defensive Backs

The following table shows the defensive backs with the highest and lowest rates of broken tackles (minimum 40 tackles):

Highest Broken Tackle Rate, 2014 Defensive Backs
Lowest Broken Tackle Rate, 2014 Defensive Backs
Player Team BT Solo Tkl
(w/o ST)
Rate BT
2013

Player Team BT Solo Tkl
(w/o ST)
Rate BT
2013
Josh Evans JAC 22 70 23.9% 10
Jason McCourty TEN 1 82 1.2% 4
Greg Toler IND 15 54 21.7% 3
Da'Norris Searcy BUF 1 47 2.1% 8
Darius Butler IND 11 41 21.2% 4
Darrelle Revis NE 1 44 2.2% 3
Janoris Jenkins STL 13 54 19.4% 8
Prince Amukamara NYG 1 42 2.3% 6
Kareem Jackson HOU 12 51 19.0% 3
T.J. McDonald STL 3 92 3.2% 5
Coty Sensabaugh TEN 10 43 18.9% 2
Eric Weddle SD 3 86 3.4% 10
Jimmy Wilson MIA 12 52 18.8% 1
Antoine Cason CAR/BAL 2 53 3.6% 1
Charles Woodson OAK 21 92 18.6% 12
Tarell Brown OAK 2 47 4.1% 4
Ron Parker KC 20 88 18.5% 0
Stephon Gilmore BUF 2 40 4.8% 3
Antonio Cromartie ARI 10 45 18.2% 2
Devin McCourty NE 3 59 4.8% 5
Rodney McLeod STL 14 64 17.9% 8
Reshad Jones MIA 4 77 4.9% 9
Rashad Johnson ARI 17 79 17.7% 6
Orlando Scandrick DAL 3 51 5.6% 6


Most of the NFL's worst-tackling defensive backs last year played in the AFC South, which is not a surprise for those of us who watched a lot of AFC South football. Josh Evans has missed at least ten tackles in each of his two NFL seasons. Gus Bradley was hired in Jacksonville to replicate the success he had in Seattle, but suffice to say that Evans is not an ideal substitute for Earl Thomas.

Most of the defensive backs who are good at tackling are good at playing football, period, especially All-Pros Darrelle Revis and Eric Weddle. We must also tip our hat to the Buffalo secondary. Their overall numbers were hurt by Nickell Robey and Aaron Williams, but Da'Norris Searcy and Stephon Gilmore both made the top ten, while Corey Graham and Leodis McKelvin were in the top 20.

New England's defensive backs missed only 23 tackles, the fewest in the league, followed by their Super Bowl opponents in Seattle (24), then Minnesota (26). No secondary missed more tackles than Jacksonville (70), followed by Green Bay (63), Arizona (62), and Kansas City (62).

Defensive Linemen

Defensive linemen make so few tackles that there's not much point in leading rate leaders, so here's a look at all defensive linemen with at least four missed tackles. I've highlighted players from a specific team, for reasons I shall explain shortly:

Most Missed Tackles, 2014 Defensive Linemen
Player Team BT Solo Tkl
(w/o ST)
Rate BT
2013
Robert Ayers NYG 8 19 29.6% 2
Rob Ninkovich NE 7 52 11.9% 2
Mike Daniels GB 6 32 15.8% --
Allen Bailey KC 6 32 15.8% --
Jerry Hughes BUF 6 39 13.3% 3
Cory Redding IND 6 27 18.2% 3
Cliff Avril SEA 6 19 24.0% 2
Jason Pierre-Paul NYG 5 60 7.7% 1
Derrick Morgan TEN 5 53 8.6% 3
Wallace Gilberry CIN 5 40 11.1% 0
Olivier Vernon MIA 5 37 11.9% 2
Billy Winn CLE 5 22 18.5% 3
J.J. Watt HOU 4 66 5.7% 4
Cameron Wake MIA 4 33 10.8% 8
Vince Wilfork NE 4 32 11.1% 0
Chris Clemons JAC 4 30 11.8% 3
Jonathan Babineaux ATL 4 24 14.3% 9
Quinton Dial SF 4 21 16.0% --
Kendall Reyes SD 4 20 16.7% 2
Cullen Jenkins NYG 4 7 36.4% 4


(Yes, J.J. Watt missed "a lot" of tackles, relative to his position, but note that broken tackle rate. He made six more tackles than any other lineman.)

So, let's talk about the New York Giants. In addition to Robert Ayers' NFL-leading eight missed tackles, and the contributions of Jason Pierre-Paul and Cullen Jenkins, Mathias Kiwanuka and Damontre Moore just missed the table with three missed tackles each. All told, Giants linemen missed 31 tackles, a dozen more than any other team. (Jacksonville and Miami had 19 each.) This is definitely not a charter bias issue, as the Giants are one of the teams where we don't have a specific charter who tended to always do one Giants half every week.

Not surprisingly, the teams whose defensive linemen missed the fewest tackles were all 3-4 clubs: Washington's linemen missed four tackles, while the big uglies on Houston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Baltimore missed five tackles per team.

Team Totals

Broken Tackles by Team, 2014 Defenses
Defense Plays
(incl. DPI)
Plays
w BT
Total
BT
Pct Plays
w BT
Sacks Runs Rec
NE 1046 50 52 4.8% 7 19 26
CHI 1016 54 63 5.3% 5 29 29
TB 1072 57 69 5.3% 3 41 25
DEN 1050 57 64 5.4% 6 24 34
BAL 1058 63 70 6.0% 4 34 32
MIN 1037 62 64 6.0% 6 27 31
WAS 997 60 72 6.0% 4 35 33
SF 999 62 69 6.2% 5 38 26
SEA 927 58 68 6.3% 5 38 24
SD 1006 63 68 6.3% 6 31 31
PHI 1134 72 81 6.3% 8 30 43
CIN 1081 70 80 6.5% 3 32 45
BUF 1049 70 79 6.7% 4 42 33
DET 1002 67 73 6.7% 4 28 41
OAK 1060 71 90 6.7% 7 39 44
NYJ 978 66 76 6.7% 5 26 45
DAL 1000 68 80 6.8% 3 31 46
Defense Plays
(incl. DPI)
Plays
w BT
Total
BT
Pct Plays
w BT
Sacks Runs Rec
CAR 1007 70 78 7.0% 8 32 37
TEN 1109 78 83 7.0% 1 48 34
MIA 1027 73 81 7.1% 4 39 38
CLE 1125 81 98 7.2% 8 53 37
STL 1014 74 81 7.3% 3 38 40
PIT 953 70 83 7.3% 2 42 39
ATL 1041 77 89 7.4% 6 37 46
HOU 1080 83 91 7.7% 5 40 46
NO 1029 80 95 7.8% 4 47 44
NYG 1005 79 96 7.9% 20 43 33
ARI 1024 83 106 8.1% 11 43 52
KC 1035 88 108 8.5% 9 63 36
IND 1016 88 111 8.7% 11 44 56
GB 1062 93 105 8.8% 11 51 43
JAC 1085 97 121 8.9% 3 61 57


While broken tackles for offenses seem to be a pretty clear indicator of a team's win-loss record, there's no clear pattern for defense. While the Super Bowl champion Patriots were the league's best tackling team (in hindsight, that championship game was a perfect matchup of a tackle-breaking offense and a very physical defense), only three of the eight defenses with the lowest rates of broken tackles per play made the playoffs, while three of the five teams with the highest rates qualified for the postseason.

Comparing 2013 numbers and 2014 numbers, two defenses had significantly fewer broken tackles in 2014 than the year before despite the change in our methodology: Chicago and Washington. Kansas City had the biggest jump in broken tackles on defense, going from broken tackles on 3.9 percent of plays in 2013 to 8.5 percent of plays in 2014. Other defenses with large rises in broken tackles: Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Green Bay, and New Orleans.

The Giants would be seventh on that list of "biggest rises" and are interesting for all kinds of reasons. Remember all those missed tackles their linemen had? Well, as you can guess, a lot of them turned into missed quarterback sacks. The Giants defense missed 20 tackles on sacks, nine more than any other defense. And it's not because they played Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick or Cam Newton. No, the quarterback who gave them the most trouble was Ryan Fitzpatrick, of all people. In fact, the Giants missed six tackles on Fitzpatrick in a single quarter. That's more missed sacks in one quarter than 18 teams missed all season. Let's take a second to sit back and enjoy Fitzpatrick making the Giants look silly:

By the way, Fitzpatrick plays the Giants again December 6, now that he's with the Jets.

Now, if we're being honest, those plays were fun to watch, but none of them really hurt New York too badly. After all, even missed sacks are still pressure plays. Do different kinds of broken tackle plays hurt a defense more than others? The following table shows how many yards per play each defense surrendered in 2014 when they missed a tackle, as well as whether that missed tackle came against a receiver, a runner, or a quarterback trying to pass:

Average Yards Allowed, Plays with BT, 2014
Defense Sack Rk Runner Rk Receiver Rk All Plays Rk
SF 2.0 12 10.3 8 14.4 3 11.5 1
MIA 1.3 10 10.6 12 14.0 1 11.8 2
DET 0.0 5 9.5 4 14.7 4 11.8 3
ATL 4.0 17 9.3 2 15.9 10 12.2 4
NE 2.7 14 6.7 1 19.4 29 12.3 5
GB 6.4 24 9.4 3 17.1 18 12.3 6
CAR -1.3 4 13.1 25 15.5 6 12.6 7
CLE 5.6 20 9.9 7 18.3 23 12.7 8
SEA 1.7 11 11.8 20 16.9 17 12.7 9
MIN 3.2 15 11.4 16 15.8 8 12.8 10
BAL 5.8 21 10.7 13 15.9 12 12.9 11
KC 4.6 19 12.0 21 16.4 14 12.9 12
BUF 3.8 16 10.5 9 17.2 19 13.0 13
DEN 0.8 6 11.7 19 15.7 7 13.0 14
TB 1.0 7 13.8 29 14.2 2 13.2 15
HOU 16.2 31 9.8 5 16.3 13 13.3 16
Defense Sack Rk Runner Rk Receiver Rk All Plays Rk
OAK 8.0 26 11.6 17 16.9 16 13.6 17
IND 12.1 29 10.5 10 16.5 15 13.6 18
NYG 12.5 30 11.6 18 17.2 20 13.6 19
SD 4.3 18 9.8 6 19.2 28 13.8 20
ARI 5.8 22 15.1 32 14.7 5 14.0 21
STL 1.0 7 13.7 28 15.8 9 14.2 22
JAC 6.3 23 12.1 22 17.5 22 14.4 23
PHI 9.3 27 10.7 14 18.6 25 14.8 24
CIN 2.0 12 10.6 11 18.5 24 14.8 25
TEN -6.0 1 13.3 27 17.5 21 14.8 26
NO 6.8 25 14.9 31 15.9 11 15.0 27
DAL 9.7 28 13.2 26 18.8 26 16.1 28
PIT -4.5 2 12.7 23 20.5 30 16.1 29
WAS -1.8 3 12.8 24 23.6 31 16.7 30
NYJ 25.5 32 11.3 15 19.1 27 16.9 31
CHI 1.0 7 14.2 30 24.7 32 18.1 32
Average
5.8
11.6
17.2
13.8


There's a lot to take in there, but for now we'll just note that bottom column. Yes, broken tackles are bad for a defense, generally yielding an extra 5 to 7 yards per play depending on where the tackle occurred.

Once that table was done, it occurred to me that I never ran the same numbers on the offensive side of the ball, and when I did, I stumbled on something truly amazing.

Average Yards Gained, Plays With Broken Tackle, 2014
Offense Sack Rk Runner Rk Receiver Rk All Plays Rk
NE 6.5 10 12.7 10 21.0 1 17.6 1
CIN 3.3 17 15.1 4 19.1 6 16.3 2
TB 18.0 4 11.1 20 18.5 10 16.0 3
DAL 21.5 1 13.5 7 17.8 14 15.5 4
PIT 18.4 3 12.2 15 17.8 15 15.4 5
HOU 3.4 16 14.9 5 20.2 2 15.3 6
GB 1.6 23 12.4 13 20.0 3 15.2 7
DET 15.8 5 12.2 14 16.2 23 14.9 8
PHI 20.5 2 12.9 9 16.6 19 14.8 9
MIN -1.6 30 16.1 2 18.7 9 14.7 10
ATL 0.3 25 11.2 19 18.4 11 14.4 11
SD 4.0 15 11.6 17 17.1 16 14.3 12
WAS 4.3 14 11.5 18 17.9 13 14.1 13
BAL 0.0 27 15.4 3 14.4 30 14.1 14
OAK 1.3 24 17.6 1 14.6 29 14.1 15
NYG -- -- 10.2 23 17.0 17 13.7 16
Offense Sack Rk Runner Rk Receiver Rk All Plays Rk
TEN 14.5 6 10.1 24 15.9 24 13.7 17
BUF -2.5 31 10.7 21 16.9 18 13.6 18
KC 0.3 25 14.7 6 14.8 26 13.5 19
ARI 2.5 21 7.3 32 19.6 5 13.5 20
IND 6.5 10 8.1 30 18.1 12 13.4 21
STL 14.3 7 12.4 12 13.8 31 13.3 22
DEN 3.3 17 12.5 11 15.7 25 13.2 23
JAC 1.9 22 13.2 8 16.2 22 13.2 24
CHI 2.8 20 7.5 31 16.3 21 12.7 25
CLE 0.0 27 10.2 22 18.9 7 12.5 26
NYJ 3.2 19 12.0 16 18.8 8 12.3 27
SEA 8.5 9 9.6 27 19.7 4 12.2 28
MIA 10.7 8 8.2 29 14.7 28 11.7 29
SF 6.4 12 10.1 25 16.4 20 11.5 30
NO -1.5 29 9.7 26 14.7 27 11.1 31
CAR 4.7 13 9.2 28 13.2 32 9.7 32
Average 5.8
11.6
17.2
13.8


Look over there in the left-hand side of the table, the very last row in the top half. See those dashes for the Giants where numbers should be? Yeah. The Giants did not have an average yards per play for that column, because Eli Manning and company had no plays that qualified.

That disparity for Big Blue is the most shocking thing I've learned putting these pieces together. While their defense missed nearly twice as many tackles on sacks as any other team in the league, their own quarterback failed to avoid a sack even one time. I don't know if there's any meaningful information there, or if it's just random trivia, but it's an astounding dichotomy either way.

Comments

20 comments, Last at 28 Jan 2017, 2:19am

1 Re: 2015 Broken Tackles: Defenses

by Temo // May 15, 2015 - 12:42pm

Manning's INT rate was his 2nd lowest of his career, his completion % was his highest ever, and he had a pretty good sack rate, so you could make the educated guess that the lack of broken tackles on sacks was a product of the offensive scheme not letting Manning hold the ball for long.

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2 Re: 2015 Broken Tackles: Defenses

by MilkmanDanimal // May 15, 2015 - 1:27pm

So Tampa's LBs had amazingly low missed tackle rates, and the DB/DL tables don't show a single Bucs player with an inordinately high rate of missing tackles. Considering how bad the defense was during pretty significant chunks last year, this sounds far more like a coaching issue where players weren't even in position enough to have the opportunity to fail to tackle.

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5 Re: 2015 Broken Tackles: Defenses

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // May 15, 2015 - 2:06pm

The first Atlanta game would certainly lend credence to that theory.

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10 Re: 2015 Broken Tackles: Defenses

by whateverdude // May 18, 2015 - 4:25am

I think it's somewhat akin to baseball Sabermetric's view on errors -- they're bad but overrated, because it doesn't take into account the defensive player who doesn't have the range to even get a glove on a ball in their area, whereas a rangier defender will have more putouts as well as more challenging putouts (which should naturally lead to more errors).

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13 Re: 2015 Broken Tackles: Defenses

by LionInAZ // May 18, 2015 - 10:18pm

I think that's a poor analogy. Baseball players don't get punished for missing on challenging plays, they get charged for bobbling the ball or throwing off target on relatively routine plays -- subject to the whims of the scorekeeper, of course. If the player is in position to make a play and whiffs, it doesn't matter what his 'range' is.

The only thing being discussed here is how players and teams rate on finishing tackles, that's all.

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14 Re: 2015 Broken Tackles: Defenses

by Vincent Verhei // May 19, 2015 - 1:08am

A fielder with great range and a mediocre glove will make more errors than a fielder with lousy range and a mediocre glove, because he will be "in position to make a play and whiff" more often. And the same is true in football. Earl Thomas was among the league leaders in missed tackles last year, partly because he was in position to attempt so many tackles in the first place.

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16 Re: 2015 Broken Tackles: Defenses

by pablohoney // May 19, 2015 - 5:34pm

Baseball players don't get punished for missing on challenging plays

I don't agree with this at all. Example: Hard ground ball is hit right between the 3rd baseman and shortstop. SS makes a leaping dive and stabs the ball (i.e. a GREAT play) but after jumping to his feet, he bobbles the ball and his throw to 1st is late (or, he sails the ball over the 1st baseman's head). 99/100 times the SS is going to be given an error because he screwed up the "routine" part of the play, and he gets zero credit for making a great play to even be in that position. Did he make a mistake? Sure. Does this mean he's a worse defensive player than a guy who would have dived and completely missed the ball? No way.

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19 Re: 2015 Broken Tackles: Defenses

by LionInAZ // May 21, 2015 - 12:13am

And I don't agree with your examples, either. Sailing the ball over the 1st baseman's head will net an E, sure. But a late throw after a spectacular dive for the ball? Almost never. And I've seen many examples of players who have bobbled the ball ona non-routine play and did not get charged with an error. Scoring errors is quite subjective, maybe more so than missed tackles.

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3 Re: 2015 Broken Tackles: Defenses

by ChrisS // May 15, 2015 - 1:45pm

"broken tackles are bad for a defense, generally yielding an extra 5 to 7 yards per play depending on where the tackle occurred." For QB broken tackles most of them must be on missed sacks and sacks on average lose 6 yards so QB missed tackles could yield 12 extra yards.

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4 Re: 2015 Broken Tackles: Defenses

by tuluse // May 15, 2015 - 2:01pm

I'm not sure how useful individual defender broken tackles is. Seems it measures players *nearly* making incredible plays just as often as it measures messing up a play they should make.

For example: Chicago not making this list is a result of players in and out of the lineup and screwing up so bad they didn't even have the chance to miss a tackle.

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6 Re: 2015 Broken Tackles: Defenses

by mehllageman56 // May 15, 2015 - 8:15pm

The Bears did show up at 32nd in the team list. The Jets team numbers were interesting to me, because other wise, they didn't have that bad a defense. I wonder how much Bridgewater's checkdown in OT and Lamar Miller's 97 yard run skew the totals for them.

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7 Re: 2015 Broken Tackles: Defenses

by Southern Philly // May 15, 2015 - 8:15pm

Agreed, but as a team they were 2nd best in LB broken tackles. But then, when you're getting torched there's not a lot of opportunity to have a tackle broken.

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8 Re: 2015 Broken Tackles: Defenses

by Southern Philly // May 15, 2015 - 8:19pm

Do plays such as receptions in the end zone count as an opportunity? There's no chance to make a tackle there, so no chance of a broken one either.

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9 Re: 2015 Broken Tackles: Defenses

by dbostedo // May 18, 2015 - 12:33am

Seems the offense article was "2014", but this one is "2015"... Innocent mistake? Or accidental reveal of the invention of a time machine?

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11 Re: 2015 Broken Tackles: Defenses

by Vincent Verhei // May 18, 2015 - 1:59pm

I'm not sure what it says that nobody -- and I mean nobody -- caught that error for several days. But it has been fixed.

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12 Re: 2014 Broken Tackles: Defenses

by alpha // May 18, 2015 - 8:28pm

Is Tony Romo's escapability demonstrated here?

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15 Re: 2014 Broken Tackles: Defenses

by Vincent Verhei // May 19, 2015 - 1:16am

We talked about quarterbacks in this piece:

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2015/broken-tackles-2014-...

Romo wasn't listed. We credited him with three broken tackles last year, two Houdinis and one as a runner.

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17 Re: 2014 Broken Tackles: Defenses

by alpha // May 19, 2015 - 10:55pm

When I later read that article, I realized my question here may be fubar. What does the Cowboys 21.5 average yards say then? If Eli Manning had no result in that table, is that 21.5 average yards (#1 rank) not the result of Romo's yards after breaking tackles on would-be sacks?

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18 Re: 2014 Broken Tackles: Defenses

by Vincent Verhei // May 20, 2015 - 2:32am

Well, yes, the Cowboys averaged 21.5 yards per play when Romo escaped a sack... but he only escaped two of them. I probably should have listed the number of each play in that table.

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