One issue that the Arizona Cardinals had in 2010 was that they had a lot of missed tackles.The defense in the second half of this year was markedly improved overall. Pro Football Focus published an article that ranked the safeties in the league regarding their tackling -- specifically how sure they were as tacklers.
In what may or may not be a surprise to you, the safeties for the Arizona Cardinals didn't do so bad.
In 2010, free safety Kerry Rhodes was one of the league's worst at his position for missing tackles. He missed 14 to go along with the 79 solo tackles PFF credits him with. That is a missed tackle for every 6.64 tackles attempted.
He improved in 2011. Granted, he did miss half the season, but he missed only two tackles all season to go with 28 tackles made. That means he missed a tackle once for every 15 attempts -- nine more attempts per miss. That was good enough to rank him eighth among safeties in the league for being a sure tackler.
You know who was even better than he was? Rashad Johnson, who replaced Rhodes in the starting lineup when he was out with a broken foot. Johnson was fifth in tackle efficiency. He missed two tackles to go with 36 solo tackles, which means a rate of 19 tackles attempts per miss.
Between the two of them (essentially a full season of one starter) they combine for a miss per 17 tackle attempts, which would be good for sixth overall.
Johnson was also perfect in one tackling stat. He did not miss a single tackle in pass coverage. He had 14 tackle attempts in pass coverage and made all of them.
What about Adrian Wilson? He was not as sure, but he also was not in the bottom 20. Wilson had nine misses and 51 solo tackles. 60 attempts and nine misses means a miss per 6.67 attempts. Not great, not terrible. It was a decrease from 2010. In 2010, his rate was 7.78 attempts per miss (75 solo tackles and 11 missed tackles).
Looking only at these numbers, you would guess that big plays were down. That is exactly what happened in the second half of 2011. What you also can see is how the safeties had less tackles overall. That would be the result of the corners tackling more and also more tackles from the front seven.
We will look at tackling stats at some other positions in the days to come.
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