BGA: The Double Team Project – Part 2 (Pass Rush)

Traditional statistics and most modern analytics measure how effective a player is without necessarily taking into account assignments or degree of difficulty. While I’ve made passing reference in my game analysis to how often certain players have been double teamed, nobody tracks this, so I’ve been keen to figure out whether the reality matches up to our expectations and my recollection from watching the film.

In part one of this series, I set out my methodology for charting every snap from the 2013 season and went through some of the things I learned from undertaking this task.

After the jump, I share the first set of data, which shows how often each of the Jets defensive linemen were double-teamed or chipped while rushing the passer. I’ll also be seeking to identify trends and differences between how each player was handled or between the approaches taken by each team. Finally, I’ll outline what this data tells us and what additional research would be needed to answer some of the questions that the data alone cannot answer.

Double Teams

The following is a list of how many times each player was double-teamed. For a more detailed definition of a double-team, refer to part one, but essentially this includes anyone who was being blocked by two players as the pass was thrown or the quarterback took off. Note that in the rare instances where there was a triple team, that player would get credited twice.

Wilkerson – 193
Richardson – 136
Coples – 102
Harrison – 53
Ellis – 34
Douzable – 32
Pace – 21
McIntyre – 6
Others – 10 (Sapp 4, Barnes 3, T. Davis 2, Cunningham 1)

Note: I did not chart double teams for inside linebackers or defensive backs, but these were rare…probably less than 10 in total for the whole season.

What this tells us

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Muhammad Wilkerson was doubled much more than anyone else, although of course some of the players on this list played a lot less on passing downs. We will therefore express the numbers in percentage terms later on. That will prove more instructive when comparing the numbers for players who play the same kind of position like Harrison/Ellis and Coples/Pace (although you can already see that Coples was doubled a lot more than Pace).

While we could also make the argument that perhaps Wilkerson deserved more credit for his pass rushing production on this basis – and that he should therefore have been a Pro Bowler or not snubbed from any Top 100 lists, we cannot make that argument based on this data alone. In order to make that claim, we’d need to investigate how often some of his peers were double teamed and then make a comparison which may or may not show that Wilkerson was doubled teamed more than some of the players with equivalent or superior production. Similarly, we could consider making a similar argument for Sheldon Richardson to explain his lack of production despite a high pass rush attempt count, but again would need to compare with his peers.

Chips

As explained in more detail in part one, a chip is used as a catch-all term for any situation where a defensive player is blocked by two offensive players, but one of those is just temporarily. The second offensive player must deliberately impede the defensive player’s progress. You can be chipped twice on one play or by a third player on a play where you were doubled.

Wilkerson – 213
Richardson – 134
Harrison – 84
Coples – 70
Douzable – 57
Ellis – 29
Pace – 17
McIntyre – 9
Others – 4 (Sapp, Barnes 3)

What this tells us

Once again, the obvious leader is Wilkerson, but the big mover here is Harrison. As explained in part one, the initial double team is a product more of where the player lines up than who he is, so it’s perhaps not that surprising to see that most of these plays involving Harrison would constitute an initial double team where one of the blockers then breaks off to double team someone else. To some extent, you’re always likely to get more chips on the inside and then doubles on the outside, so we’ll look at a breakdown.

Ratios

Let’s now consider the ratio of doubles-to-chips. As noted above, you might expect this to be higher for a player on the outside and lower for a player on the inside, purely by the nature of teams having to make an initial double team to prevent immediate interior pressure. However, for those players who play on the inside, it’s also a measure of how often they (a) were double teamed initially and managed to collapse the pocket enough so the double team had to be sustained throughout the play or (b) they were beating a single-block, forcing someone else (or a spare man) to give help to that player.

Coples – 1.5
Pace – 1.2
Ellis – 1.2
Richardson – 1.0
Wilkerson – 0.9
McIntyre – 0.7
Harrison – 0.6
Douzable – 0.6

What this tells us

The interesting one to note here is Ellis. I can confirm that most of these were cases where he got an initial double team that had to stay on him because he was collapsing the pocket. Entering the game fresh helps him here and makes him a tough assignment for anyone operating as a single blocker.

As suggested above, this does illustrate how double teams are used with more frequency than chips for anyone on the outside. Wilkerson does line up outside the tackles sometimes, but that’s mostly in run-stopping situations. Richardson does that less often and Harrison/Ellis hardly ever.

Percentages

Now let’s consider how often a player was either doubled or chipped with reference to their pass rush snaps. These are normalized to total chips and doubles per 100 pass rush attempts.

Ellis – 70
Douzable – 65
Wilkerson – 64
Harrison – 60
Richardson – 53
Coples – 36
McIntyre – 17
Pace – 13

What this tells us

It’s interesting to see Ellis and Douzable at the top of this list. Perhaps that gives some credence to the theory above which states that entering the game fresh is more likely to earn you some extra attention.

Harrison is surprisingly doubled or chipped more often than Richardson and almost as much as Wilkerson, but then again a much higher percentage of these were chips, usually due to temporary initial double teams where one player was able to break off and double someone else.

Again you can see that Coples drew much more attention than the other outside linebackers. However, here’s where we need to add some context in respect of his role. First of all, Coples occasionally lined up inside during the first half of the season. As we’ve already learned, that’s automatically going to make him more likely to get doubled or at least chipped. Secondly, although he lined up outside during the second half of the season, he rushed inside pretty regularly and that forced a lot of double teams up the middle.

We can see that if we break down the splits from each game. Over his first seven games, Coples was doubled 63 times and chipped 51 times. Over his last seven (remembering he only played 14), he was doubled 39 times and chipped 19 times. The two key takeaways here are that (a) that gives us a good explanation for why his production was so much better over the second half and (b) that even when he did move to the outside full-time, he still had to be double teamed a lot more than Pace and the other outside linebackers.

That does add some context to the fact that Calvin Pace had more sacks and generated pressure at a comparable rate, although in Pace’s defense remember that Bart Scott outlined the additional responsibilities someone playing Pace’s position has, which could have an effect upon productivity. This would suggest Coples is clearly a more disruptive force in the pass rush than his statistics would suggest and that because he rushes inside on a regular basis, any comparison of his 2013 per-snap pass rushing numbers with other outside linebackers who lined up on the outside all the time and primarily rush outside could be misleading.

Of course, to get a better idea of where he stands on a league-wide basis, you’d need to investigate how often some of those other edge rushers were being double teamed.

Other trends

For most of the players, the amount of double teams they saw was pretty consistent throughout the year. One exception was Leger Douzable. As you can see from his above numbers, there is a bit of a drop-off from him to Richardson (and an even bigger drop-off from him to Wilkerson) suggesting that he’s less disruptive than they are. However, while he only averaged just under five chips/doubles over the first 15 games, he was double teamed seven times and chipped 10 times in the last game, both season highs and perhaps a sign of the improvements he made over the course of the season.

Ellis and Richardson saw modest increases over the second half of the season, while Harrison actually saw a slight reduction in doubles and a corresponding increase in chips.

I’ll also be looking for interesting differences between the approach that teams took, although this was more of an issue in the running game. I guess it’s easier for teams to dictate who blocks who in the running game, while they have to react more to the defense when passing. Also, the differences in run-blocking schemes between man and zone have an influence.

There was one interesting anomaly though. In the first meeting with the Bills, Sheldon Richardson was never chipped. He was either double-teamed (seven times) or just single-blocked (11 times). The Bills are an interesting case because they’ve often adopted an approach against the Jets whereby they mitigate pressure by employing moving pockets, blocking in unison and relying on quick releases or the dynamic nature of their quarterback. Nevertheless, after the Jets generated constant pressure in their week three clash, the Bills reverted to a more basic approach in their second meeting, doubling him eight times and chipping him five times.

Conclusion

As noted, this data does not enable us to compare these Jets players with players from other teams or with their treatment or that of their teammates in previous seasons. However, the data does put into better perspective the statistical productivity they did generate and allows us to get a better idea of who deserves the most credit for how disruptive their pass rush has been.

It’s not simple enough to assume that a player shouldn’t be expected to generate any pressure when they draw a double team, so we can’t simply exclude those snaps from the calculation. In fact, Wilkerson in particular seemed to make just as many plays when he was double teamed. However, maybe some kind of normalization would be a good way of taking into account those players who were disadvantaged by being double-teamed all the time and therefore were outproduced by lesser players as a result.

Coming up in part three on Sunday, we break down double-teams (and “peels”) on running plays in similar fashion. Hopefully I’ve covered this topic comprehensively, but if you have any questions, then let me know in the comments and I’ll be able to address them while the data collection process is still fresh in my mind.




96 comments
goat7
goat7

Great stuff! I'd be willing to say that most of us would agree that our front line is amongst the top 5 in the league, or close to it, but am I one of the few sipping the Kool-Aid a little on the back end? I thought Allen covered well, especially on Gronk more often than not. Milliner was one of the best corners in the league for the last month. Pryor should be in the running for our second consecutive DROY recipient. Dowling has always had the talent, he just needs to stay healthy for a trip to the probowl. Brandon Dixon has the size and is in a perfect opportunity to learn, and I firmly believe that Dexter McDougle will prove that he should have been taken in the first two rounds. Those are just the youngsters we have. Throw in the veteran presence of Dawan Landry, Kyle Wilson, and Dimitri Patterson and we have a well-blended group. We've all seen how the front seven led the Giants to 2 Superbowls in 4 years with no talent on the back end. Well our front line is just as good, maybe better while we actually have talent on the back end. Our offense is night and day from what it was a year ago. All we need is a middle of the pack offense cause this defense is special enough to win it all on it's own IMHO.

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Disgruntled Jets Fan

Great stuff! Here's a stat I'd like to see:  # pressures per snap / avg # of blockers (treating a chip as half a blocker) faced per snap

a57se
a57se

So, is the US playing for a draw?

Are the Germans being conservative as well?

a57se
a57se

I was passing by a Sports Bar down here called Twin Peaks about 25 minutes ago and there was a line out the front door to get in!

I guess soccer is happening in Houston!

a57se
a57se

We played buffalo early in the season and with Richardson being a rookie, it is understandable they might not give him a bunch of attention. By the second game they knew they had to do more against him.

tsjc68
tsjc68

Note: I did not chart double teams for inside linebackers or defensive backs, but these were rare…probably less than 10 in total for the whole season.


So we won't have any data on how often Darrin Walls was double-teamed?  NOW THE WHOLE ARTICLE IS RUINED.

williamg1
williamg1

Wilkerson, Harrison, Richardson, Coples, Ellis. 


You need 10 guys to double them. 

Marcus Armstrong
Marcus Armstrong

Good to see Wilkerson is as absurd as we all thought...


Two things: 1. I don't know how thoroughly you charted this stuff, but I'd be curious to see any correlations with alignment. E.g. when a player is lined up at 3T, he'll likely see a double every X snaps. 


2. This is some prime opportunity for a confidence interval approach: http://www.evanmiller.org/how-not-to-sort-by-average-rating.html


Basically, it'll let you compare doubling/chipping rates while ignoring number of snaps. 

Brendan
Brendan

Cameron out, Omar Gonzalez in. 

Bedoya out, Brad Davis in. 



Not going to start doubting Klinsmann now, but....yikes. 

tsjc68
tsjc68

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Muhammad Wilkerson was doubled much more than anyone else.


YES IT SHOULD


Sincerely,

Hank and Sons, LLC

williamg1
williamg1

When is the BGA of the US-Portugal game coming out?

Bent
Bent moderator

@Disgruntled Jets Fan


That doesn't really work because someone with a high average number of blockers would see their total decrease.


Something like this?


Coples faced 1.3 blockers per snap

Pace faced 1.1


Coples registered pressure 9% of the time, Pace 11% of the time.


Scaling up by the factor of blockers basically gets them both up to 12%.


(Of course this ignored "unblocked" plays)

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se Both teams are getting a lot of men behind the ball, but they are going forward and making low risk forays forward.


The Germans have threatened to get some dangerous balls in but the good news is that there's still no score in the Portugal Ghana game,

tsjc68
tsjc68

@a57se

I guess soccer is happening in Houston!


Either that, or Houston just loves the Twin Peaks girls.

williamg1
williamg1

@a57se I'm not surprised by soccer being big along the southern border states. Just like I'm not surprised with hockey being big in the northern border states. 

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se Good point.  Although, as a counterpoint, Harrison was just as unknown at the time and Coples was out.

Bent
Bent moderator

@tsjc68 Zero times.


Although that makes me think actually it might be interesting to look at how often Lankster was doubled when in the gunner role with reference to some of the league's other top gunners.

tsjc68
tsjc68

@williamg1

Wait until next year, when we draft Alvin Mack, the promising young ILB prospect from the ESU Wolves.  That kid has a non-stop motor and a mouth to match.

Bent
Bent moderator

@Marcus Armstrong Unfortunately I just tallied them up.  Anything more would have taken much longer.


Anecdotally, on pass plays (won't talk about running plays yet because SPOILERZ) you can usually expect one of the two players that you'll usually find lined up between the tackles to get an initial double, unless there's a quick screen.  For both tackles to get an initial double, you either need someone to stay in to block an edge rusher or that happens as a reaction to someone dropping off from the edge.


Discussing this with PFF, they eventually (2015?) hope to be tracking all doubles and types of doubles for every snap which you would then be able to cross reference to snap times and alignments.

David Aron
David Aron

@Brendan i have come to the conclusion that the 4-0 drubbing the germans handed to the portuguese was to help team US coach Klinsmann, not long ago the german national team coach, reach the knockout stage over portugal.
the germans were also very nice in not running up the score as well

Bent
Bent moderator

@williamg1 As 57 said once, if I ever did soccer, it would have to be BMA.

Bent
Bent moderator

Now it's 1-0 to Portugal.

a57se
a57se

@tsjc68 @a57se 

They do love their Peaks in houston (so do I) but there are never lines out the door at the place.

a57se
a57se

@williamg1 @a57se 

True but these were Gringos lining up...

(It is OK to call 'Old White guys' Gringos, drops mic)

David Aron
David Aron

@tsjc68 @williamg1 
with the sons of anarchy in front, you see the need at ILB being greater than drafting our future replacement at C or LT?

a57se
a57se

@Bent 

That is good!

More incentive to Draw!

williamg1
williamg1

@a57se @williamg1 I guess when you put it in perspective, its like the Olympics, but with only a single event. 

Bent
Bent moderator

@Marcus Armstrong @Bent


They are aware of that.  The sums teams pay them for that data (while I confess I don't know the exact amounts) might shock you.


You should have taken the Browns job, got the team to pay for it and then quit!

Bent
Bent moderator

@williamg1 @Bent No.  This is probably my current top ten.


Football

Basketball

Hockey

Rugby

Baseball

Pro Wrestling

Aussie Rules

Soccer

Athletics

Everything else apart from Cricket

Cricket


These can move up and down depending on the strength of my favorite team


I could definitely cater to an audience of Americans that may not be entirely familiar with the game though.


a57se
a57se

@Bent 

How could you possibly like Baseball more than Soccer???

jaym
jaym

@Bent  Say it AINT SO

PRO WRESTLING????? smh

Bent
Bent moderator

@williamg1 @Bent @Marcus Armstrong They're already free and they don't, to my knowledge, use them.  Nor should they...all I'm doing is speculating on what the team should already have figured out.

williamg1
williamg1

@a57se @Bent  "How could you possibly like Baseball more than Soccer?"


Only because he's not a Mets fan. 

Bent
Bent moderator


@a57se @Bent When you grew up with cricket, any bat game looks way more exciting by comparison.

Bent
Bent moderator

@jaym @Bent Haha, it's like a bad soap opera with bad comedy and slapstick action.  What's not to like?


I don't really consider it a sport, just included it to emphasize how far down soccer is.


During the Olympics, athletics was above soccer too!

Bent
Bent moderator

@williamg1 @Bent It was pretty close back in about 2008, but the NBA suuucks right now with the looming threat of another "Super Team" on the horizon so there's a big gap from #1 to #2 right now.


They're heading towards a Globetrotters scenario where one team has all the best guys and they just tour the country winning every night while the rest of the league plays the role of the Washington Generals or Boston Shamrocks.

a57se
a57se

@Bent @a57se 

Amazing! I am surprised brendan isn't here chastising you for that like he did me!!

Don't you know there are 3.5 billion soccer fans???

williamg1
williamg1

@Bent I grew up loving wrestling. I remember going to see Wrestle Mania I to watch Hulk Hogan, Superfly Snucka and Mr T(!!!) against Rowdy Roddy Piper and some other dudes. 

a57se
a57se

@Bent @williamg1 

The Globetrotters...I remember seeing them at the Nassau Coliseum.

That was fun!

Meadowlark Lemon was my favorite!

tsjc68
tsjc68

Brendan didn't chastise you for not liking soccer, he chastised you for pretending like nobody liked soccer and for complaining that soccer should not be discussed at all.

Bent never did that, hence, no chastising.

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se Soccer is a great game, I'm just bored of it due to over-exposure.  American sport has always had more novelty value for me. 

a57se
a57se

@tsjc68 

Seeing how I never said that NOBODY liked soccer nor acted like it shouldn't be discussed at all, that was really salient!

And you are wrong anyway...

He said how could I claim to love Baseball yet call soccer boring...he clearly said that baseball should be considered more boring than soccer.


williamg1
williamg1

@a57se @williamg1 @Bent I did. I grew up absolutely loving the Mets. Somewhere along the way I just stopped caring about baseball. 


Same with basketball: I was a huge fan of the Knicks, and then they fired Ernie Grunfeld, and eventually hired friggin Isaiah friggin Thomas, and I just gave up. 


(I forgot about acquiring friggin Marbury!!!!! Ugh!)

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se Baseball is more boring than soccer.  I prefer it anyway.

tsjc68
tsjc68

@a57se @tsjc68

No, Brendan pointed out how popular soccer is and you disputed all of his claims, acting like Soccer wasn't that popular.


And you most definitely acted like it shouldn't be discussed.



Bent
Bent moderator

@williamg1 @a57se @Bent Did you start rooting for someone else or just stop watching altogether?


And would you jump back on the bandwagon if things ever got better?

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Disgruntled Jets Fan

@Bent @a57se when I moved here, I had no clue what baseball was, but quickly grew to love it. 

partially because I'm a nerd and it's the most stat friendly sport ever.

a57se
a57se

@tsjc68 @a57se 

I did not.

You have a nice way of twisting everything I say...

williamg1
williamg1

@Bent @williamg1 @a57se Nope, never rooted for another team. Don't watch until postseason. If I watch, I just root against all things Boston, LA and Miami. I like the Mets, and would root for them if they did well. As for the Knicks, they will continue disgusting me until Dolan leaves. 

tsjc68
tsjc68

@a57se @tsjc68

Nobody is twisting what you said.  You always think people are twisting what you said, and you're always wrong.


You spent an hour-plus arguing with everyone that soccer should not be discussed and the soccer convo should be moved to a World Cup blog.  That happened.


Stop lying to yourself and the rest of us pretending that it did not.

a57se
a57se

@tsjc68 @a57se 

You always do...you know it and won't admit it...

Part of your distasteful way of treating people who don't believe your Ideology.

tsjc68
tsjc68

@a57se

We can go back and look at the historical record.


Brendan, 10 days ago: Are you going to be this obnoxious anytime anyone posts something soccer related?


You: Yes, probably.  Go post in on the World Cup blog!


----------


DJF: we get it, you hate soccer.  why be so vocl about it?  It's not constructive, informational or funny.


You: Off topic posts.....not necessary. Go to the World Cup blog and tell everyone there how much you love it.


-----------


Brendan: 4-0!


You: Who cares?


Brendan: Literally millions and millions of people.


You: So when the US team gets eliminated will we cease the updates?


You, again: I don't think billions of people care about the World cup....FIFA would love for that many to care.


Brendan: Then you are naive.


You: Okay, Kool-Aid Man.


---------


http://thejetsblog.com/nyjets/should-the-jets-get-into-the-brandon-flowers-sweepstakes/#comments


----------


Those are direct quotes, 57.  Nobody is "spinning" or "twisting" your words.


You didn't want soccer discussed, complained when it was, wanted people to go elsewhere if they wanted to talk about soccer,claimed that nobody cared, then disagreed that millions/billions of people actually did care.


That happened.  Stop acting like it didn't.  All my accusations today are correct.

a57se
a57se

@tsjc68 @a57se 

I was busting Brendans' chops, you didn't bother to post that comment where I said that!

tsjc68
tsjc68

@a57se @tsjc68 And if you were just "busting chops", then don't accuse others of "twisting your words".


YOU WERE TWISTING YOUR OWN WORDS, if you were pretending to hate soccer more than you really did or pretending to think that soccer should not be allowed as a topic of conversation.


Don't accuse others of misrepresenting your position if you're misrepresenting your OWN position in a hamfisted effort to "bust chops".

tsjc68
tsjc68

@a57se @tsjc68

You don't act like an ass to the entire board for two hours and then say "Oh, I was just busting chops".


That's not what "busting chops" is.