In an article on Football Outsiders (FO) last week, they investigating the best and worst individual run stop rates from the 2010 season. As always, FO comes with the disclaimer that there stats are not always "fair," so interpret it as you wish. Here is the definition of a stop rate:
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.
FO took a look at the top 10 best and top 10 worst defensive linemen, linebackers, and defensive backs against the run. For the defensive line rankings, Ahtyba Rubin was listed. For the defensive back rankings, Sheldon Brown was listed. One of those players had the worst run stop rate among their position (minimum 30 plays), and one of those players had the second best run stop rate among their position (minimum 20 plays). Can you guess who ranked where?
It was Rubin who ranked poorly, registering a 51% stop rate and yielding 4.1 yards per play against the run that he made. The player with the best run stop rate had a 91%, yielding just 1.3 yards per play against the run. Because of Rubin's low ranking versus the amount of praise he received, FO made sure they talked about him in the article:
Not only did Ahtyba Rubin have the worst Run Stop Rate for a starting defensive lineman, but he also had more Run Plays than any other defensive lineman. As with Okoye, this is another one of the places where trying to read the meaning of play-by-play stats is difficult. The conventional wisdom in Cleveland is that Rubin had a breakout season last year. In this article, Eric Mangini gave him credit for a lot of "hustle plays." When Rubin was making tackles of runners after five or six yards, was he getting pushed backwards by blockers or was he making hustle plays on runners after being initially blocked out of the play? The play-by-play doesn't tell you.
Clearly, somebody wasn't doing a good job against the run in Cleveland, and Adjusted Line Yards numbers suggest that the culprits are Rubin and the linemen, and maybe the linebackers -- but not the defensive backs. Cleveland ranked 31st in Adjusted Line Yards but fourth in Second-Level Yards and fourth in Open Field Yards. They gave up a ton of 5-8 yard runs but very few 10+-yard runs.
Brown was ranked as the second best defensive back, only behind the Packers' Charles Woodson. Make sure you read the full article for a better understanding of the run stop rate and what it does or doesn't mean.