DeMarcus Ware Best Run Stop Rate; No Division Competition

"Dude, I'm getting paid to watch Eli make a fool of himself. I don't even have to smack him upside the head this time. What's that you say? Run play? I'm on it."

On Thursday Football Outsiders, one of the leading advanced stat websites, released their best and worst individual performances in run stop rate. To the surprise of some (Who? Where?), the man listed at the top of the rankings is pretty good at rushing the passer as well. Offenses scheme around stopping DeMarcus Ware from rushing the passer, but he makes a large number of rush stops as well, often times unassisted and in space. He has a great tackling technique in addition to his uncanny athleticism and play recognition.  We Cowboys fans of course know all this. When the advanced stat sites keep confirming what the raw numbers and the eye test tell us, you wonder why Ware hasn't won more individual awards.

Football Outsiders defines run stop rate as follows.

Stop Rate is defined as the percentage of a players Plays that were Stops. Plays are any time a player shows up in the play-by-play on defense: tackles, assists, forced fumbles, etc. Stops are plays that stop the offense short of what FO considers a successful play: 45 percent of yards on first down, 60 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third or fourth down.

Obviously, Stop Rate isn't a perfect stat. It measures the plays that a player makes, not the plays he misses or the plays he doesn't even get a chance to miss because he is being properly blocked away from the ballcarrier. Still, it gives you a good idea of where players were making their plays and thus why certain defenses were good or bad at certain parts of the game in 2010.

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To clarify, the stat measures when the play a defensive player makes on a run or scramble, delineating between whether or not the offense got the necessary yardage to consider the play successful.  It's simply saying, when player X is involved in a play-ending action, was the overall result good enough. DeMarcus Ware was 'good enough' an amazing 91% of the time. The number two player on the list, Baltimore's Terrell Suggs had a 85% RSR. To put it in perspective, taking 6% points off Suggs total (the difference between the two) would almost knock him out of the top 10. To have that significant of a lead says something.

A run defeat differs from a run stop, in that it tallies how many times a player stops the offensive from converting a first down on third or fourth, stop the opposition behind the line of scrimmage, or causes a turnover. Ware collected 11 of those, good for another top 10 finish. His Run Yards Per Play (yards given up when involved in ending a running play) average is a miniscule 1.9.

The Cowboys know that Ware's strength is getting after the passer though, and a look at the Run Plays of the top RPR guys (again, plays are defined as being involved in ending the offensive play) bears that out. The man from Troy had 35 Run Plays, tied for third fewest among the linebackers in the top listing.

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I don't put much stock into what this stat means for a secondary, but it should be noted that Cowboys SS Gerald Sensabaugh makes the list of best RPR by a defensive back. Depending on how free agency shakes out, how would you feel about seeing what Sensabaugh could do with competent free safety play? He seems to be pretty successful in the box.

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If you are looking ahead to the 2011 schedule and the six games against division opponents, you might like what you see. Although DeMarcus Ware is the only Cowboy listed (there are two lists, for linebackers and linemen), no NFC East foe boasts any mentions. Suffice to say, there is no one else in the division capable of stopping the run when it counts, at a high rate.

Picture the new version of the Jason Garrett offense. No longer held back by stationary right tackle struggles, the team gains running yards by the chunk by spreading the field and getting into space. If the Cowboys are able to get to the second level consistently, it could be a banner year for Felix Jones and draft pick DeMarco Murray.

Hat Tip to Fan In Think And Thin for the original FanShot.

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