Under Pressure
Dum dum dum dugga-dum dum.

Under Pressure: Midseason Sack Counts

Under Pressure: Midseason Sack Counts
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by J.J. Cooper

Life’s a little easier on the inside.

There are 13 offensive linemen who have played 500 snaps or more this season without allowing a sack. All 13 are offensive guards or centers (although Louis Vasquez did spend some time on the outside this year while the Broncos suffered injuries to Ryan Clady and Orlando Franklin). It’s a little easier slowing down a big defensive tackle who spends more time stuffing the run than picking up sacks, but it’s still quite the accomplishment to get halfway through the season without giving up a sack.

One startling thing to pick out from the list below is that Matthew Stafford has not had one sack this year that can solely be blamed on his interior linemen. A lot of the preseason talk about the Lions focused on them moving Riley Reiff to left tackle and replacing Gosder Cherilus and Jeff Backus. The right tackle spot has been a mix-and-match of undrafted free agents and waiver claims, yet the Lions are currently first in Adjusted Sack Rate. Stafford naturally does a pretty good job of avoiding sacks, and the interior line has been a big boon to him this year while Reiff and the right tackle platoon get their feet wet.

Zero Sacks Allowed Through Week 9 (2013)
Team Player Snaps Team Player Snaps
BUF 70-E.Wood 672 DET 67-R.Sims 570
CLE 55-A.Mack 615 DET 75-L.Warford 570
NYJ 66-W.Colon 612 TB 76-J.Zuttah 554
DEN 65-L.Vasquez 606 SD 61-N.Hardwick 549
SEA 64-J.Sweezy 581 CHI 63-R.Garza 521
WAS 66-C.Chester 577 TEN 67-A.Levitre 516
DET 51-D.Raiola 570

Not surprisingly, on the other end of the spectrum, the list of the players with the highest sack percentage (sacks allowed divided by offensive snaps) is dominated by tackles.

The top of the sacks allowed charts are led by a tackle who was traded for nothing (Levi Brown), both of Miami's regular tackles (Jonathan Martin and Tyson Clabo), a rookie (Luke Joeckel), and a fill-in left tackle (Kelvin Beachum).

But among a list of struggling tackles, Jets guard Brian Winters also appears. Winters has been a part-time player this year. He’s not exactly making a bid for more playing time.

Most Sacks Allowed (through Week 9, 2013)
Team Player Sacks Snaps PCT Team Player Sacks Snaps PCT
ARI/PIT 75-L.Brown 4.5 262 1.72% ARI 73-E.Winston 5.5 498 1.10%
MIA 77-T.Clabo 7.5 437 1.72% NYG 65-W.Beatty 5.5 529 1.04%
PIT 67-B.Winters 5 324 1.54% PIT 76-M.Adams 3.5 337 1.04%
JAC 76-L.Joeckel 4 272 1.47% GB 67-D.Barclay 5.5 552 1.00%
MIA 71-J.Martin 6.5 453 1.43% TEN 76-D.Stewart 4.5 454 0.99%
PIT 68-K.Beachum 5.5 386 1.42% PHI 65-L.Johnson 6 623 0.96%
CLE 72-M.Schwartz 8 615 1.30% HOU 74-W.Smith 5.5 572 0.96%
SEA 67-P.McQuistan 6.5 515 1.26% NYJ 60-D.Ferguson 5.5 612 0.90%
ARI 79-B.Sowell 3 260 1.15% BAL 78-B.McKinnie 4.5 508 0.89%
JAC 65-W.Rackley 5 444 1.13% BAL 74-M.Oher 4.5 510 0.88%

To make the most sacks allowed table, a linemen had to play at least 100 snaps. But some of the worst performers, understandably, have come from backups with fewer snaps than that. Here’s a look at the bottom 10 with 200 or less snaps.

Most Sacks Allowed, Less Than 200 Snaps (Through Week 9, 2013)
Team Player Sacks Snaps Pct Team Player Sacks Snaps Pct
MIA 75-N.Garner 2 53 3.77% DET 70-J.Fox 1 52 1.92%
NO 68-T.Lelito 3 82 3.66% NYG 76-C.Snee 3.5 186 1.88%
BAL 71-R.Wagner 2.5 88 2.84% SD 70-S.Schilling 1 58 1.72%
GB 74-M.Newhouse 1 37 2.70% DEN 73-C.Kuper 1.5 106 1.42%
TEN 66-M.Otto 1.5 62 2.42% TEN 62-B.Schwenke 1.5 122 1.23%

It’s useful to mention again that blame for sacks is determined by multiple viewings of a play. Often it’s quite easy to determine, as a player will simply get beaten by the man he’s blocking. But in the case of twists, stunts and blitzes, it sometimes can be harder to determine. If there are significant questions about who is to blame, the sack is recorded as a quarterback/play-call sack. The same is true of lengthy sacks where the quarterback had plenty of time to throw. This year, roughly one-third of all sacks have not been blamed on a blocker.


Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is well short of the pace needed to match the 20.5 sacks he recorded last year. But he’s still having an excellent year. This week, Watt got one sack, but he had a significant hand in another. Colts tackle Gosder Cherilus left an open invitation for Watt to beat him to the inside. Watt took advantage to get an unblocked hit on quarterback Andrew Luck. To Luck’s credit, he managed to stay upright after a good shot from Watt, but that just bounced him right into Antonio Smith, who had beaten Hugh Thornton. While it took more than two seconds for Luck to go down, Watt’s initial hit took only 1.7 seconds, and after that Luck had no real opportunity to throw.


Maybe we should just rename this the Terrelle Pryor award, though Geno Smith has a claim to the title as well. Pryor had the longest sack of the year this week, a 10.6-second piece de resistance where Pyror scrambled backwards nearly 25 yards, managed to turn the corner on the rush and get back to the line of scrimmage, but still couldn’t find anyone open. He was finally sacked 10.6 seconds after the snap, more than a second-and-a-half longer than any other sack this season.


12 comments, Last at 11 Nov 2013, 2:28pm

1 Re: Under Pressure: Midseason Sack Counts

"But among a list of struggling tackles, Jets guard Brian Winters also appears. Winters has been a part-time player this year. He’s not exactly making a bid for more playing time."

Winters is not a part-time player - he's a full-time starter. The reason he has fewer snaps is that Vladimir Ducasse was the starter, but lost his job to Winters, who is mistakenly listed as playing for Pittsburgh in the table. However, there should be a qualification for both Winters and D'Brickashaw Ferguson, who has given up 5.5 sacks, since a lot of those sacks are on Geno. Winters has also been a pretty decent run blocker.

2 Re: Under Pressure: Midseason Sack Counts

I have to agree with you here - I like Geno's moxie and arm strength, but he holds the ball way too long in the pocket, though that should be expected from a rookie. That said, I've seen Winters and Ferguson turn a couple guys loose at the snap this year. Not the best performance from either so far.

3 Re: Under Pressure: Midseason Sack Counts

Replacing Stephen Peterman at RG with Larry Warford has been a huge upgrade. The previous two seasons, inside pressure given up by the Peterman-Raiola dynamic duo was a big reason why Stafford's mechanics haven't always been sound, and his rate stats haven't matched his gaudy compilation stats. This year Raoila is also playing better, and Stafford's Y/A and INT% are both at career bests so far.

9 Re: Under Pressure: Midseason Sack Counts

I agree with you that Warford has been an upgrade over Peterman, but I also have to say that Peterman got an unwarranted knock because of all the penalties he got while playing with a foot injury. I remember Ben Muth noting on these pages that The biggest knock on Peterman was that he (and Sims also) was slow to help out Raiola when he was inevitably being shoved back 5 yds into Stafford. I can believe that.

4 Re: Under Pressure: Midseason Sack Counts

I really wish there was an official stat for "QB pressures". Sacks are just way too narrow a measure of a pass rush. I can tell you for a fact that JR Sweezy has given up a LOT of pressures this year, the only reason he hasn't officially given up a sack is because either Russel Wilson escaped the sack or ran into another d-lineman who got the sack.

5 Re: Under Pressure: Midseason Sack Counts

Chris Chester on this list must be a mistake. Or if not, then last night was the first night he allowed not just a sack but several of them. He's certainly gotten RG3 hit a lot by whiffing on blitzers.

6 Re: Under Pressure: Midseason Sack Counts

I'll be interested to see if Barclay is replaced by Sherrod at some point now that he is finally on the active roster after nearly 2 years of recovery from that gruesome broken leg. Newhouse has gotten first team reps in practice but hasn't dislodge Barclay, perhaps because Barclay is good in the run game.

I'm still amazed by the line improvement in GB, pass protection is probably no better, but they run block better, and with a real run game they don't face as much flat out rush. Bulaga coming back next year, Sherrod hopefully pushing for a real job and Bahktiari proving to be a midling left tackle means they might be a real offensive line next year, with a few very solid back-ups.

11 Re: Under Pressure: Midseason Sack Counts

Part of that is because defenses play differently against Seattle and Washington to contain the run threat of the QB. Also Seattle currently doesn't have a real NFL offensive line, Green Bay does, even if it isn't great. But my quote wasn't hypothetical for GB. I don't have the numbers for the whole season, but though 6 games that amount of 5 or 6 man rushes the Packers faced was down about 8% from what they faced the past two years. Their adjusted sack rate at that point was also significantly better than the past couple of years (though it fell sharply after Wallace took 4 sacks).

10 Re: Under Pressure: Midseason Sack Counts

What on earth? Sweezy is a revolving door. Just last game I saw him move right out of the way to double team a player that was already locked up, allowing the LB to blow unimpeded throw his space straight to Russell Wilson. People are tearing out their hair at all the blown pass coverage mistakes he's made and FO says he's allowed ZERO sacks through nine games?

Did you even WATCH him?

12 Re: Under Pressure: Midseason Sack Counts

I agree with Tino that sack + pressures would be a much better metric for a lineman.
Also, the ratio as a percentage of snaps does not make sense. There is no sack to be had in a running play. The snap count should only include the passing plays.