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Raiders Defense Excels in Defeats and Matt Shaughnessy is in Elite Company

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With all of this time and no football on our hands there has been plenty of time to examine the Oakland Raiders from new statistical points of view. Football Outsiders has one of the more interesting offseason statistical studies I have seen. They are measuring "defeats." And in this case getting a defeat is a good thing. Defenses players and teams are credited with a defeat anytime one of three things happens:

1) causes a turnover

2) causes a loss of yardage

3) stops conversion on third or fourth down

There were 24 players with at least 25 total defeats not one of those guys was a Raider. That is not all that big of a surprise. Most of the guys on that list were outside linebackers who used their sack numbers to propel them to the top.

The latest edition charts defeats on just running plays, and it is here where we begin to see a Raiders presence. To begin with they measured defeat percentage on running plays by team. The Raiders had the third highest percentage of team defeats on run plays trailing only Chicago and Philadelphia. Jump over for individual findings....

This is not surprising. I think we all noticed the defensive line stuffing their share of runs, but once they moved past the d-line there were problems.

The highest rated individual Raider in run defeats is Rolando McClain. He ranked sixth among middle or inside linebackers in run defeats with 13. Shockingly enough one of the five inside linebackers he trailed was Kirk Morrison. Morrison was third in the league (for any position) with 15 run defeats.

The other two Raiders on the list were Matt Shaughnessy and Tyvon Branch. They tied by recording 12 run defeats. Shaughnessy was fourth among defensive ends, and Tyvon Branch was the highest safety with 12 run defeats.

Branch's total is certainly impressive. It is also not a fluke. He had nine defeats on running plays in 2009. The problem is that the majority of Branch's defeats are coming on third down handoffs. In other words, a lot of these are fairly low impact defeats away from the line of scrimmage.

McClain's could certainly pad his total in the same way. We need look no further than Kirk Morrison to see this. Morrison's 15 defeats in the run game were actually two shy of his '09 total with the Raiders, and that was enough to get him run right out of town for being ineffective in the run game.

The good news for McClain is that while he doesn't have the total tackle numbers of other linebackers the tackles he is making have a high percentage of impact. On the 60 tackles McClain made in the running game each run gained an average of 2.9 yards per play. For comparison, Morrison's average was 3.5 yards gained on each run tackle in 2009.

More stats to digest, and I am not sure we learned much of anything about Branch or Morrison. These stats do show Shaughnessy's ability to be a complete defensive end. The two defensive ends, from a 4-3, that finished ahead of Shaughnessy in run defeats are pro bowlers Trent Cole from Philadelphia and Justin Tuck from the Giants.