Saturday, January 2, 2016

A Few Esoteric Stats on J.J. Watt, Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack

By John Turney

With apologies to Josh Norman, who is also a strong candidate for Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press and Pro Football Writers of America, this post focuses on the three rushers that have garnered the most support (thanks Google search engines) for that award.

In the next few days Pro Football Journal's (PFJ) Nick Webster will do a fuller handicapping of the DPOY race, including the linebackers and defensive backs. However, in the meantime, going into the season's final Sunday there are a few stats that are pertinent.
Graphic: Pro Football Journal
The above chart shows the common defensive statistics, but does use PFJ's run/pass stuffs and PFJ's QB hits, which excludes sacks, since that results in a double counting. As folks can see it is a tight race among these three just based on stats alone.

Added to this is Pro Football Focus's (PFF) work on J.J. Watt and how often he is double teamed. In an earlier post, we repeated that statistic used by NBC on Sunday Night Football that was provided by PFF, which reported that on passing plays Watt had been, to that point, doubled-teamed 46% of the time and was double-teamed 24% of the time on running downs. We have not seen any update to that number, but assume it has been about the same in the time since that game. Donald, according to PFJ research, through game 15, has been double-teamed 41.9% on passing plays and 38.3% on running plays. Neither PFJ or PFF has published a number for Mack. Watt's 46% is significant based on earlier PFJ research. Donald's 42% is also very high.

Finally, we get to the obscure:
Graphic: Pro Football Journal
The above chart shows the number of penalties drawn and the number of penalties called on the three players. Watt has drawn 15, seven were holding calls on opposing players, three were false starts across from Watt, the five others were: two illegal hands to the face, one chop block and two forced intentional groundings. The final column "PenC" is the number of times the player gave back a penalty. This season, Watt has been called for four roughing the passer penalties, 4 offsides/neutral zone infractions. So, his net penalty total is seven, as is Mack's. Donald was held (and called) seven times plus was clipped once and has had four penalties called on him.

Again, not a lot of separation. But this is a season where little things may matter in the minds of the AP voters and the PFWA voters.

Stay tuned for Nick Webster's take on this award.

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