We’re familiar with football's traditional stats – yards and yards per, sacks and tackles in different delineations. But as statistically full as the game has become, it’s difficult to put a value on crucial aspects to victory unless you look past things like total tackles by middle linebackers (who are generally tackle magnets anyway) and "quarterback wins."
To that end, we’ve put together a series of statistics, some offensive and some defensive – that attempt to detail player and unit value in different ways. Here are a few new ways to figure out who’s better and who’s best.
Most yards per play after a quarterback hit
1. Ben Roethlisberger(notes), Pittsburgh Steelers
(33 hits, 10.2 yards per play)
We know how elusive Roethlisberger is, and how effective he can be when out of the pocket. You had a feeling that he was going to complete that third-and-6 pass against the New York Jets in the AFC championship game, because you’ve seen him make those throws so many times before.
Most yards after catch per pass (per completion)
1. Jason Campbell(notes), Oakland Raiders
(194 completions, 6.99 YAC)
This season, the Raiders didn't live up to the tradition of their deep ball aerial game. Campbell’s completions traveled just 5.76 yards in the air each, making the Raiders’ first non-losing season in several years very much like their last AFC championship run with Rick Gannon under center.
Highest completion percentage, third-and-8 or more
1. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
(25-of-51 converted; 49 percent)
This guy again? Yes, indeed. Having a speedster like Mike Wallace(notes) (20.95 average yards per reception) as an option helps, but Big Ben was able to get deep with lesser-known guys like Emmanuel Sanders(notes) and Antonio Brown(notes).
Best yards per attempt after first 10 carries
1. Darren McFadden(notes), Oakland Raiders
(79 carries, 579 yards, 7.3 YPC)
You’ll hear a lot of praise for ex-head coach Tom Cable and the Raiders’ offensive line when it comes to explaining the improvement in Oakland’s running game in 2010, but having a healthy McFadden was the dominant factor.
Highest catch rate (minimum 50 receptions, non-running backs and tight ends)
1. Austin Collie(notes), Indianapolis Colts
(71 passes, 58 catches, 82 percent)
Part of the amazing thing about Peyton Manning’s 2010 season is how well he finished with so many of his primary targets out due to injury. Imagine what Indy’s offense might have looked like had Manning enjoyed the play of tight end Dallas Clark(notes), and young receiver Collie, who brought in the highest number of targets of any qualifying receiver despite the fact that he wasn’t just catching underneath junk. Collie’s 9.14 yards per target average was one of the NFL’s highest.
Most yards after catch per reception, non-running backs
1. DeSean Jackson(notes), Philadelphia Eagles
No surprise here – the more you saw that dangerous Michael Vick-to-DeSean Jackson combination through the season, the more you knew that if Vick hit Jackson with any kind of screen pass, Jackson could easily blast through any defense for a long gainer.
Lowest YAC percentage
1. Brandon Lloyd(notes), Denver Broncos
(18.8 yards per reception, 2.34 YAC, 12.4 percent YAC)
Lloyd also finished fifth in yards per reception overall, but as we have seen, NFL leader DeSean Jackson (22.47 yards per reception) helped himself more than anyone else after the catch. For Lloyd, it was about an unexpected career rebirth in Josh McDaniels’ vertical offense, with Kyle Orton(notes) throwing bombs, and Lloyd getting caught after the catch quicker than anyone else.
Most quarterback hits
1. Antonio Smith, Houston Texans (18)
Mario Williams(notes) may get the most credit on the Texans’ defensive line when it comes to quarterback takedowns, but Smith is the NFL’s best when it comes to getting a hit on the quarterback as he’s releasing the ball, an act that often affects accuracy and efficiency.
Most quarterback hurries
1. Chris Long(notes), St. Louis Rams (38)
Meanwhile, Long is the NFL’s most effective player in forcing quarterbacks to throw before they want to, according to Football Outsiders’ game-charting metrics.
Most total defeats
1. Justin Tuck(notes), New York Giants (32)
Defensive defeats indicates the total number of plays by a defensive player that prevents the offense from gaining first-down yardage on third or fourth down, stops the offense behind the line of scrimmage or results in a turnover. Since the 2007 season, Tuck has been one of the elite pass disruptors in the game. He had 19 pass defeats and 13 against the run.
Most quarterback hurries
1. Kevin Williams(notes), Minnesota Vikings (21)
Quarterback hurries are more impressive for defensive tackles because of the immense effort it takes to get near the quarterback. As such, when players like Williams, Dockett and the underrated Houston get through to any degree, it’s worth praising.
Lowest yards per carry allowed
1. Fred Robbins(notes), St. Louis Rams (0.1 YPC)
Two years ago, Robbins was thought to be too old and nearly out of the game with microfracture knee surgery. But reunited with former Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo in St. Louis, Robbins, 33, had a watershed season in which he not only limited running backs more consistently than any other tackle, but he also picked up six sacks and defensed seven passes.
Most total defeats
1. Ndamukong Suh(notes), Detroit Lions (29)
If you watched Suh’s rookie season, this should come as no surprise. No tackle in the league spent more time creating negative plays than Suh. And the scary part is that Suh’s going to only get better.
3. Jason Jones, Tennessee Titans (18)
Most total plays
1. Jerod Mayo(notes), New England Patriots (178)
Tackles are often a difficult way to rate linebackers, especially interior linebackers. When tackles flow your way, you’re supposed to make them. But Mayo showed his true value to the Patriots by being involved in more defensive plays (run or pass) than any other player.
Most total defeats
1. Daryl Smith(notes), Jacksonville Jaguars (35)
Jacksonville’s defense didn’t get much credit for anything in 2010 (primarily because its secondary was awful), but Smith and tackle Terrance Knighton are two defenders who give hope for the backsliding franchise.
Most quarterback disruptions, inside linebackers
1. James Farrior(notes), Pittsburgh Steelers (16)
We know that outside linebackers, especially in 3-4 defenses, will get a lot of quarterback pressures. But inside linebackers find it a tougher go, because they play the run so often and can be more easily blocked out from pursuit. Farrior's longevity is especially impressive.
Yards per pass
1. Antoine Winfield(notes), Minnesota Vikings (3.8 YPP, 62 passes)
This isn’t yards per completion; we’re just as interested in numbers that indicate incompletions. And Winfield was the best overall in this category – and when you include his success rate below, his value comes into true focus.
1. Antoine Winfield, Minnesota Vikings
(71 percent, 62 passes)
Success rate is another Football Outsiders game-charting metric that indicates the percentage of plays targeting a defensive player on which the offense was unsuccessful. “Unsuccessful” plays include incompletions, interceptions and the inability to gain 45 percent of necessary conversion yardage on first downs, 60 percent on second downs, and 100 percent on third and fourth down.
1. Charles Woodson(notes), Green Bay Packers (9)
Not a surprise that Woodson is the best run-defending cornerback per this statistic; he plays safety often enough and blitzes frequently enough that he’s become more of a do-it-all weapon of the Troy Polamalu(notes) variety.
1. Deon Grant(notes), New York Giants (18)
It’s difficult to get accurate reads on safeties by pass yardage allowed, because so many safeties play different styles. It’s best to look at efficiency allowed, and that's where the veteran Grant comes out on top.
1. Tyvon Branch(notes), Oakland Raiders (12)
Run defense can also be more important out of the safety position. If you want an indication of how different safety positions can be, note that there isn’t one player on both the pass and run defeats best lists.
1. Bryan Scott(notes), Buffalo Bills (56 percent)
Stop rate isolates the percentages of first/second/third/fourth down yardage allowed as an indicator of success. In this case, Scott is the best at his position when it comes to preventing that efficiency.
2. Jordan Babineaux, Seattle Seahawks (56)
3. Adrian Wilson, Arizona Cardinals (48)