Thursday, November 1, 2018

Aaron Donald Double-teamed 70% of the Time on Pass Plays?

By John Turney

While cruising through Twitter I came across this Tweet that stats that according to the NFL Next Gen Stats superstar defensive tackle Aaron Donald is being double-team blocked 70% of the time—

After a couple of clarification Tweets with Mr. Long it turns out it was 70% of the time on passing plays. It seemed high to me, having a little bit of experience with these kinds of esoteric stats over the years and also doing some film grading myself and mentioning similar things HERE about Pro Football Focus's research. 

So, I pulled up the All-22 film from NFL Game Pass and watched all the defensive snaps of Donald on passing downs. In my view, I was very generous in grading what plays were double teams. If an offensive lineman or back was even assigned to Donald but never really engaged I gave that a "double team" grade.  If there was a tackle-end game or end-tackle game and two players, over the course of the snap engaged, I counted that.

All said I came up with a very high figure, an amazing figure in my view, of 52% of the passing snaps Donald was doubled. Fifty-two percent!. Having at least some knowledge in this topic it is as high as it can get for a season. You can find games where a player is doubled more, but not many, if any seasons.

So, what about the Nex Gen Stats figure of 70%?

I cannot say that I am right and they are wrong. I just wish we could find out the methodology and how the 70% number was arrived at. Certainly, I am fallible and could have made errors but 18% off? I don't think so. So, while I won't say I am right and they are wrong but by the same token, I am not going to just accept that I am wrong and they are right. 

So, here is one person asking if the Next Gen folks were grading the All-22 or if they were using the chips and computer to do for this stat like they did for the Fastest NFL players or Fastest Sacks or Hurries something like "real-time location data, speed, and acceleration for every player, every play on every inch of the field". 

I'd like to know if this was something done visually or on a computer screen. Not that anything would be wrong, but I'd like to know because I think I can see a double team and as mentioned, grading very generously my view is Donald is double-teamed on pass players around 52%.

Then again I could be way off base and totally wrong.


  1. I was questioning that too. I don't believe any player in NFL history was double teamed that much. That being said, teams would double him even more than they do if Ndamukong Suh wasn't playing next to him.

    1. Well, on passing downs, from week 2 through 8 Suh played mostly left defensive end on passing downs, so Donald and Suh didn't often play next to each other on those situations>

      Of course, there were some plays they were next to each other, when teams passed against the Rams base defense.

      On run downs, the nose will often be double no matter who he is. Whether it's Suh or Westrbooks, it's a scheme thing. So some of Suh's doubles are not because he's great, but because he's playing on the shoulder of the center.

      Suh, while a physical stud, has not been very effective this year and not giving the kind of help to Donald that was projected by many