Posted in NFL Stats

Sacks a misleading stat to the average fan

by Roland Johnson on July 25, 2009

Many fans when throwing praise around, about how good a team’s defense is usually start off my mentioning how many times they were able to sack a quarterback, interceptions or the ability to stop the run.

But when talking about sacks, one should consider digging deeper as in quarterback hits, quarterback pressures and sacks. Sacks are a sexy thing and a clear barometer for fans to point out, but they are very misleading. Many times it is not solely about getting sacks. Forcing a quarterback out of the pocket disrupting the timing of passing plays or misfiring on a throw or even forcing an interception can have the same desired effect as a sack.

To test the theory about how misleading sacks can be here are the sack numbers by team.

Dallas Cowboys 58
Pittsburgh Steelers 51
Philadelphia Eagles 48
Minnesota Vikings 45
Tennessee Titans 44
New York Giants 42
New York Jets 40
Miami Dolphins 40
Carolina Panthers 37
Seattle Seahawks 35
Green Bay Packers 34
Baltimore Ravens 33
Atlanta Falcons 33
Oakland Raiders 32
Arizona Cardinals 31
New England Patriots 30
Indianapolis Colts 30
San Francisco 49ers 30
St. Louis Rams 30
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 29
Jacksonville Jaguars 29
Detroit Lions 28
New Orleans Saints 28
Chicago Bears 27
San Diego Chargers 27
Houston Texans 25
Denver Broncos 25
Washington Redskins 24
Buffalo Bills 23
Cleveland Browns 17
Cincinnati Bengals 17
Kansas City Chiefs 10

As plain as day, everyone can see the top passing rushing teams from last season are on the top. But when you add in all three categories’ (Sacks, QB hits, QB pressures) then divide that number by the amount of pass attempts each defense faced, you get what we will call a pressure percentage which has a slightly different group of teams on top which would illustrate a far more accurate measuring stick to determine how well a defense pressures opposing quarterbacks.

Team % Pressure
Minnesota Vikings 60%
Dallas Cowboys 54%
Philadelphia Eagles 51%
Tennessee Titans 50%
Baltimore Ravens 48%
Carolina Panthers 47%
Oakland Raiders 47%
New England Patriots 46%
New York Giants 45%
Atlanta Falcons 44%
Arizona Cardinals 42%
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 41%
Pittsburgh Steelers 41%
Green Bay Packers 41%
Jacksonville Jaguars 41%
Houston Texans 41%
Seattle Seahawks 39%
Indianapolis Colts 39%
Detroit Lions 39%
New Orleans Saints 39%
New York Jets 38%
Washington Redskins 38%
San Francisco 49ers 36%
St. Louis Rams 35%
Chicago Bears 35%
Miami Dolphins 35%
Cleveland Browns 33%
Kansas City Chiefs 33%
San Diego Chargers 31%
Denver Broncos 30%
Buffalo Bills 29%
Cincinnati Bengals 29%

Lastly, are pressures per attempt, using the same data, but just varying the math. We divide the number of pass attempts by the total number of pressures ie: sacks, QB hits & QB pressures and get pressures per attempt. Meaning we can now get the percentage of attempts a passer can take before the defense normally gets pressure.

Team Pressure per attempt
Minnesota Vikings 1.68
Dallas Cowboys 1.84
Philadelphia Eagles 1.97
Tennessee Titans 2.02
Baltimore Ravens 2.10
Carolina Panthers 2.11
Oakland Raiders 2.14
New England Patriots 2.19
New York Giants 2.25
Atlanta Falcons 2.27
Arizona Cardinals 2.40
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2.41
Pittsburgh Steelers 2.43
Green Bay Packers 2.44
Jacksonville Jaguars 2.45
Houston Texans 2.47
Seattle Seahawks 2.54
Indianapolis Colts 2.54
Detroit Lions 2.55
New Orleans Saints 2.59
New York Jets 2.65
Washington Redskins 2.66
San Francisco 49ers 2.79
St. Louis Rams 2.83
Chicago Bears 2.85
Miami Dolphins 2.88
Cleveland Browns 2.99
Kansas City Chiefs 3.02
San Diego Chargers 3.18
Denver Broncos 3.34
Buffalo Bills 3.39
Cincinnati Bengals 3.42

The Buccaneers go from 20th in sacks, to 12th in pressure percentage and 12th in pressure per attempt effectively moving them up eight spots. the last chart shows that once every 2.4 attempts a quarterback dropped back against the Bucs last season he was either sacked, hit or forced to leave the confines of the pocket.

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