The much-maligned 2010 Arizona Cardinals defense has certainly taken its lumps statistically and in discussions. Previously we have looked at missed tackles, broken tackles and coverage numbers for the secondary. In general, the numbers were not good. However, there are some perhaps positive individual numbers we can look at for the Cardinals defensive players.
They have to do with tackles on pass plays and a statistic called a "stop,"
Football Outsiders broke down the best and worst at pass tackles (tackles on pass plays) and at stop rate. A "stop" is a play described in this way (from the FO website):
Stops: The total number of plays by a defensive player that prevent a successful play by the offense, defined as 45% of needed yards on first down, 60% of needed yards on second down, and 100% of needed yards on third or fourth down. In general, "plays" refers to tackles, passes defensed, fumbles forced, or interceptions. The exception is when discussing pass defense data from the FO game charting project, in which case "plays" refers to all charted passes with the given player as the listed defender.
Cornerback Michael Adams, safety Adrian Wilson and linebackers Paris Lenon and Daryl Washington appear among the best at their positions, while Rahad Johnson shows up on the more dubious list at his.
Among corners, Adams had the second highest stop rate. In 33 pass tackles, 14 were stops -- a rate of 47 percent.
Among safeties, Wilson had the 10th highest rate at 30 percent (10 stops in 33 pass tackles) and Johnson was the fifth worse with a rate of five percent (one in 21 tackles)
Lenon had the second highest rate (54 percent -- 20 stops in 37 tackles) and Washington the eighth highest (48 percent --11 out of 23) among linebackers.
Now these number in them selves look good, but can easily be explained. Johnson, for example, rarely plays near the line of scrimmage. Any tackle he would have on a pass play would come down the field. He won't get many stops that way. Wilson, on the other hand, plays very well near the line of scrimmage and makes plays there.
Adams as a nickel corner showed good tackling. However, this does not make up for the fact that he is one of the most targeted corners in the league and allows a very large percentage of throws his way to be caught. The stop rate tells me a few things. One is that he gets assigned a lot to a slot receiver running nearer to the line of scrimmage. Another is that he probably sits in zone coverage underneath more often than down the field, putting him in position to make these "stop" tackles. Lastly, when he is beat down the field, he doesn't make the tackle. Someone else does.
The linebacker stats are fairer. The position plays closer to the line of scrimmage. The fact that Lenon and Washington both were among the best at stop rate tells me that they made plays. They did not give up much in the way of yardage when they made a tackle.
These numbers overall will look much better when the coverage numbers are improved. There were simply too many completed passes on the Cardinals' defensive backfield. There were also too many missed and broken tackles. If those numbers improve, then the Arizona defense will be much more successful.