Linebackers - Three Years of Pass Rushing Productivity Stats -- ProFootballFocus

Discussion in 'Texans Talk' started by Playoffs, Jun 27, 2012.

  1. Playoffs

    Playoffs Subscribed Contributor

    Apr 26, 2008
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    Three Years of Pass Rushing Productivity: Linebackers
    June 27th, 2012 | Author: Khaled Elsayed

    Day three in our look back at three years worth of Pass Rushing Productivity, and that means we’re moving away from those guys for whom you would consider pass rushing a primary job. After looking at edge rushers and interior defensive linemen we’re onto the linebackers (not including 3-4 outside linebackers who were looked at in edge rushers).

    As is always the case, we’re not just measuring their sack numbers or total pressure but rather using the unique player participation data we collect at PFF to add a further level of context by looking at which players rush the passer the most. The formula, for those who like a bit of math, involves weighing hits and hurries as worth three quarters that of a sack, dividing that number by the number of snaps they spent rushing the passer and then multiplying by 100. Just like that you have Pass Rushing Productivity.
    On to the findings.

    It won’t surprise many to hear that a Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker has rushed the passer more than any of his peers, though there is something of a disclaimer in so much as Lawrence Timmons spent a portion of his three years filling in at an outside linebacker spot. Still, if you want some validation that the Steelers blitz their linebackers a lot, then you need only look a spot further down to see James Farrior in equal second, a rank he shares with Brian Cushing. With Farrior gone from Pittsburgh and Cushing relishing the opportunity to blitz in Wade Phillips’ aggressive 3-4, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if Cushing and Timmons are the most blitzed linebackers in the league over the next few years.

    Other names that won’t surprise are two of Rex Ryan’s favorite players in Bart Scott and David Harris in fourth and fifth, respectively, while you get an idea of just how aggressive the defense of Gregg Williams was in New Orleans. The only out-and-out 4-3 linebackers in the top group are Scott Shanle (sixth) and Jonathan Vilma (10th), though there are appearances from guys like Daryl Smith (ninth) who spent the majority of his time in a 4-3 (outside of Jacksonville’s brief flirtation with a 3-4 in 2009 and some work as an edge rusher in nickel).

    Player/ Team/ Pass Rush Snaps
    Lawrence Timmons PIT 469
    Brian Cushing HST 462
    James Farrior PIT 462
    David Harris NYJ 450
    Bart Scott NYJ 434
    Scott Shanle NO 411
    Mario Haggan DEN 404
    David Bowens NYJ 385
    Daryl Smith JAX 377
    Jonathan Vilma NO 356

    Total Pressure
    While Timmons may lead the way in snaps, he’s some way off Cushing when it comes to total pressure. On seven fewer snaps Cushing has picked up a remarkable 83 combined sacks, hits, and hurries. Some of this can be put down to a scheme which has freed Cushing up, but he’s one of the better players in the league in finding the quickest way to the quarterback and it shows with this number. The underrated Daryl Smith wasn’t top five in snaps, but he is in terms of total pressure, with Bart Scott and James Farrior joining him with 55 and 60 quarterbacks disruptions to their names. Elsewhere in the Top 10, Aaron Curry creeps onto the list, showing that while he hasn’t lived up to his draft slot he does have a knack for making things happen when he’s going forward (though it should be noted he spent a lot of time playing with his hand in the ground in Seattle’s nickel).

    Player/ Team/ Pass Rush Snaps/ Total Pressure
    Brian Cushing HST 462 83
    Lawrence Timmons PIT 469 61
    James Farrior PIT 462 60
    Daryl Smith JAX 377 59
    Bart Scott NYJ 434 55
    David Harris NYJ 450 52
    David Bowens FA 385 45
    D.J. Williams DEN 305 43
    Karlos Dansby MIA 317 42
    Aaron Curry OAK 354 40

    Pass Rushing Productivity
    But as is often the case, those in the Top 10 of total pressures are largely the product of being afforded more opportunities to rush the passer. It’s why even though Cushing leads in that regard, he only finishes third on our PRP. Instead it’s Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington who tops the charts with Desmond Bishop a fair distance behind him. 49ers fans won’t be surprised to see Patrick Willis in fourth, because while he doesn’t generate a ton of pressure, he’s not asked to. With a dominant defensive front and Willis’ own excellent ability in coverage, the 49ers just don’t need to blitz him a great deal, but when they do he’s still incredibly productive.

    Player/ Team/ Pass Rush Snaps/ Total Pressure/ PRP
    Daryl Washington ARZ 165 35 16.97
    Desmond Bishop GB 209 37 14.23
    Brian Cushing HST 462 83 14.07
    Patrick Willis SF 240 39 13.23
    Sean Weatherspoon ATL 151 25 13.08
    Kevin Burnett SD 190 29 12.76
    Paul Posluszny JAX 179 28 12.57
    Daryl Smith JAX 377 59 12.33
    Jonathan Casillas NO 167 26 12.28
    Rolando McClain OAK 157 23 11.78
    Larry Foote PIT 185 27 11.76
    D.J. Williams DEN 305 43 11.56
    Jerod Mayo NE 184 26 11.14
    James Anderson CAR 232 31 10.99
    London Fletcher WAS 207 28 10.87
    Keith Brooking FA 192 26 10.68
    DeAndre Levy DET 150 21 10.67
    Nick Barnett BUF 198 26 10.61
    Chad Greenway MIN 244 33 10.55
    Karlos Dansby MIA 317 42 10.49

    One of the more interesting nuggets out of this study comes when looking at the New Orleans Saints’ linebackers. Incredibly, they have four guys who rushed the passer at least 150 times over the past three years, with one of them featuring in the Top 10 (Jonathan Casillas) and three finishing in the Bottom 10 (Vilma, Shanle and JoLonn Dunbar). It gives you a whole new appreciation for just how aggressive they were on defense, even when it was struggling to have much of an impact. To make matters worse for Saints fans, they snapped up another guy in the Bottom 10, with Curtis Lofton an ineffective blitzer, especially when you compare him to what Sean Weatherspoon (fifth overall) was able to do. Still it could be worse, they could have Barrett Ruud rushing the passer, something that happened all that much and yielded all too little with the former Buccaneer never displaying a knack for getting off blocks or shooting gaps to disrupt the QB.

    Player/ Team/ Pass Rush Snaps/ Total Pressure/ PRP
    Barrett Ruud TEN 187 9 3.88
    Scott Shanle NO 411 25 4.62
    Ernie Sims FA 179 11 4.75
    JoLonn Dunbar NO 187 13 5.48
    Julian Peterson FA 265 18 5.57
    Mario Haggan DEN 404 33 6.44
    Jonathan Vilma NO 356 30 6.74
    Brandon Johnson BLT 196 17 6.76
    Brady Poppinga FA 161 14 6.99
    Curtis Lofton NO 256 25 7.62

    When you look at the Pass Rushing Productivity of linebackers, it’s important to note it’s very different to what defensive linemen and 3-4 outside linebackers are doing. While they spend most of their time trying to beat a man, linebackers are coming on blitzes that are often designed to get them unblocked, thus giving plenty of players ‘free’ pressure courtesy of a scheme that put them in place to harass the quarterback.

    That doesn’t mean there isn’t a skill to it, and some players are clearly better at finding the path of least resistance–just because a player has a higher PRP number than one who lines up as a defensive end, it isn’t a sign that they should be kicked onto the line in nickel packages and let loose. Having said that, I can sleep easy tonight, safe in the knowledge that with tomorrow will come our last look at Pass Rushing Productivity as we look at defensive backs.
    TejasTom likes this.
  2. drs23

    drs23 Veteran

    Mar 16, 2010
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    No more VIP Suite so back to the recliner
    There's the CushMonster again. It's gonna cost some cash to keep him.
  3. barrett

    barrett Hall of Fame

    May 31, 2007
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    One of the things really working in our favor, I believe, is the fact that Mr. McNair and the staff stood by Cushing after his suspension. If you remember, Bob flew to New York to meet with Roger Goodell privately to speak on Cushing's behalf.

    All the questions that the prognosticators had about Cushing's football passion coming out of college have obviously been answered. This guy loves to play football and I think he loves to play it for this franchise.

    I don't believe that Brian is in it for the money and I absolutely believe that he will, much like Arian Foster, express a strong desire to remain in Houston and get a fair deal done.
  4. drs23

    drs23 Veteran

    Mar 16, 2010
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    No more VIP Suite so back to the recliner
    I hope you're right and something in my gut says you are. Would be a BIG hit to lose Cush. He needs to retire Steel Blue!
  5. Quick II Draw

    Quick II Draw Veteran

    Sep 27, 2011
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    He plays an important role on d and nobody on the roster at mlb can hold his jockstrap.
    Its a position that is nearly impossible to plug in with a rookie from the draft
    Theres no need to worry, he WILL NOT be off this team until possibly his twilight years.

    Texans want to keep him because he is an uber talent (much more raw ability than demeco had imo) that they will eventually trust enough to become the shotcaller. Imagine how good cushing will be with more experience recognizing plays.

    He will want to stay bc texans are building ridiculous talent around him; he's not really going to find greener pastures football-wise. All signs indicate that fitness and football are pretty much 100% of this kids life. I really doubt he bolts to a rebuilding franchise for a big payday. Besides, people don't pay huge money to FA lbs.
  6. Scooter

    Scooter Funky

    Apr 30, 2004
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    most complete linebacker in football. great inside rush, great outside rush, great run support, great in both man and zone coverages. great!
  7. ObsiWan

    ObsiWan Site Contributor

    Jul 25, 2007
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    League City, Tx
    Good find Playoffs...

    We know Cushing is a beast, now everyone does.

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