I'm not going to lie. this won't be pretty. We have all seen our defensive line get abused game after game in this 2009 season. The most telling example being the final drive against Carolina as they continued to just pound the ball on the ground while our line flailed about as they were pushed 3-4 yards off the ball. This has been an issue for a few years now. The lack of pass rush and inability to stop the run is a trend that continues this year.
One of the worst things about being a writer, or even a fan is trying to quantify what the eyes see. There are teams and players that we think are good, but the stats don't back it up and vice versa. But the holy grail of these situations is when your eyes tell you something and you go to check out the data and the stats back you up. 'Tis a good feeling.
So on this point, to illustrate just how awful the defensive line is playing, I thought I'd go back to our friends at Football Outsiders and use some of their advanced stats.
We've looked at the offensive line and a few other offensive stats in the past. In those situations we wanted ALY(Adjusted Line Yards) to be high, as well as Power Success and 10+ Yard. As you can imagine, on the defensive side, we want those numbers to be low. The lower the success rate, the better our defense is performing. The opposite is true for Stuffed percentage. We want this to be high on the defensive side, as it illustrates the number of times the running backs are hit and tackled behind the line of scrimmage. Don't worry, in case you forgot what each team means, here are the definitions courtesy of Football Outsiders.
Teams are ranked according to Adjusted Line Yards. Based on regression analysis, the Adjusted Line Yards formula takes all running back carries and assigns responsibility to the offensive line based on the following percentages:
- Losses: 120% value
- 0-4 Yards: 100% value
- 5-10 Yards: 50% value
- 11+ Yards: 0% value
These numbers are then adjusted based on down, distance, situation, opponent, and the difference in rushing average between shotgun compared to standard formations. Finally, we normalize the numbers so that the league average for Adjusted Line Yards per carry is the same as the league average for RB yards per carry. Defensive line stats (more accurately, defensive front seven stats) represent the performance of offensive lines against each defense, adjusted for the quality of offensive opponents.
What this means is, the running back may gain 5 yards on a given run play. Some of that is attributed to how the running back runs, what cuts he makes, and some of the yardage is credited to the offensive line (or against the defensive line).
Take a look at the rank. That sums up our entire defensive line. But to make the pain a bit more glaring, let's interpret what these numbers mean. The ALY (Adjusted Line Yards) for our defensive line is 4.51 yards per carry. That means that on average, in a given situations, the opponent's offensive line is "gaining" 4.51 yards per carry, or allowing the average running back 4.5 YPC. Th other number, RB Yards, is what the running back gains per carry. The running backs are gaining .16 yards more than there line is credited for. We aren't facing super human running backs, just offensive lines that are killing our defensive line.
Percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown. Also includes runs on first-and-goal or second-and-goal from the two-yard line or closer. This is the only statistic on this page that includes quarterbacks. Teams are ranked from lowest power success percentage allowed (#1) to highest power success percentage allowed (#32).
As I've explained before, it's smash mouth football. On the short yardage situations how successful is the OL or DL in achieving their goal. On the defensive side, we want the power success to be zero. This means that the opposing team is never successful in those situations. So where do we rank through Week 7?
Here's a hint for opposing teams. Run the ball on goal to go situations, 3rd and short and 4th and short. You'll get it 80% of the time. That is disgusting. 4 out of 5 times a team runs the ball in these situations they convert. No wonder our defense can't get off the field. (Conversely, our offensive line has a success rate of 60%).
Percentage of rushing yards against this team more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage. Represents yardage not reflected in Adjusted Line Yards stat. Teams are ranked from smallest number of 10+ Yards (#1) to largest number of 10+ Yards (#32).
Not too shabby here. Right in the middle of the pack. Not seeing a lot of long runs against us. Maybe that's due to all the long passes that are being thrown.
Percentage of runs where the running back is tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage
On the defensive side, we want this number to be high. It will illustrate how often the Bucs get penetration and shut down running plays in the backfield.
Or it will illustrate how rare it is to see a pewter and red uniform in the backfield. Our OL has a stuffed rate of 24% meaning one out of every 4 runs is stopped in the backfield. These are huge issues on both sides of the ball.
On the pass rush side, let's look at the number of sacks and the adjusted sack rate, which indicates sacks per passing attempt.
|Adj Sack Rate
Below average, but not as bad as I thought. I don't know if that's a good sign or bad sign that the Bucs being 21st actually had me pleased.
Again, this tells us a lot of what we already know. The Bucs defensive line is just getting hammered in any and all situations. The pass rush is below average, the ability to stop a standard run is almost worst in the league and the short yardage situations are killing our team. This is a grouping of situations that has to be corrected somehow.
There is no masking these issues. What we see on Sundays is bad line play. The stats do nothing but back up this claim. Whether it be through different personnel, schemes or coaching, a change has to come quickly. I don't think any defense can be successful with stats like these, which is backed up by the play we see every week.
Hopefully this journey into the advanced stat world will quantify what we all have been saying this year.