clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Raiders' Rolando McClain Surprisingly Excelled in Pass D as a Rookie

This time last year, the biggest worry about Rolando McClain's transition into the NFL in the Raiders system was in pass coverage. He was going from a 3-4 to a 4-3. He was going to have to cover more ground, spend more time in man, and do it against better athletes. And while his college game didn't have a weakness, his run support was viewed as being stronger than pass defense. 

Well, as it turns out, I think most people that followed the Raiders felt his pass defense was a little ahead of his play in the run game. He was less often out of position, and in moments that Darren Sproles and Danny Amendola don't remember, he showed he could close quickly on passes at put the fear of Zuess into receivers.

We have some numbers now to back up this up. Thanks to Jack's Axe for fan shotting this for us. Doug Farrar posted on Yahoo! Sports' the stop rate, as tallied by Football Outsiders, for linebackers in pass defesne, and the one and only Rolando McClain was No. 1.

Here's what he had to say about it:

Rolando McClain(notes), Oakland Raiders (65% passing Stop Rate, 31 pass plays, 5.3 passing yards per play, 1 interception, 6 passes defensed, 24 pass tackles, 13 tackle stops, 73% run Stop Rate)

More may have been expected of McClain than was produced in his rookie season, but with a very impressive front four taking care of business, he was able to back out and cover from the middle. McClain was especially impressive with his ability to double back and catch up to bigger receivers and tight ends in the open field. He's also adept at stealing a look, barging in, and blowing up a swing pass.

Now, does this mean that Rolando McClain is the best pass defending linebacker in the NFL? No, it doesn't. We went over this when Lamarr Houston got the No. 1 ranke stop rate for defensive linemen against the run. In case you missed that here is how stop rate is determined:

Stop Rate is a percentage that shows how often a defender kept an offense from making a successful play — success in this case is defined as gaining 45% of needed yardage on first down, 60% of needed yardage on second down, and 100% of needed yardage on third or fourth down.

Again, this doesn't show the amount of times Rolando McClain was burned on a play, or when he was out of position. It shows that when he was in on plays, they weren't going far. A great sign that he was able to read pass plays, and then close on them quickly, and as an added bonus he closed with great violence.