I knew Oakland Raider Lamarr Houston made a huge impact in his rookie season, but the recent numbers posted by Football Outsiders still shocked me. FO measured each players stop rate on running plays. FO defines a stop as:
Stop Rate is defined as the percentage of a players Plays that were Stops. Plays are any time a player shows up in the play-by-play on defense: tackles, assists, forced fumbles, etc. Stops are plays that stop the offense short of what FO considers a successful play: 45 percent of yards on first down, 60 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third or fourth down.
To qualify for the list a player had to have a minimum of 30 plays in the run game. They then broke it down to position. Lamarr Houston was the number rated defensive lineman. Houston recorded a stop on 91 percent of the plays he made in the run game. Now, does this mean he is the best defensive linemen in the league at playing the run? No. This stat does nothing to measure the plays that a player was not in. It is, however, a great indication that offensive linemen are not pushing Houston around.
What might even be more eye-catching is that John Henderson is tied for second at a 90 percent stop rate. The most impressive part of this is that he even had enough to qualify for the list. There is no denying the fact that Henderson is still an elite tackle in the run game. He is active and stout.
The Raiders defensive line as whole performed excellent against the run in 2010. As most Raider fans can tell you it was the big play that killed the run defense, and not a result of them getting pushed around on every play. FO actually singles out the Raiders for a paragraph:
The "best rates" list helps show why Oakland's run defense was a surprising 12th in DVOA and fourth in Adjusted Line Yards. The Raiders' defensive line stopped a lot of opposing runners right up front, without even letting them get to the linebackers and defensive backs.
Both Richard Seymour and Matt Shaughnessy also made their average tackles within two yards of the line of scrmimage, although with lower Stop Rates.
The message is clear: the Raiders back seven needs to improve in run support and discipline, and if they do (and the d-line stays relatively healthy) you can expect this defense to be among the league leaders in rush defense.