When the Denver Broncos re-signed linebacker Joe Mays last week many fans were a bit surprised. Perhaps you didn't even know the Broncos brought Mays back, easy to understand given the Peyton Manning signing. They did, and Mays will likely man the middle of the Broncos defense - at least on running plays.
I, for one, am a big fan of Mays' hard-hitting style. Are there limitations? Yes. We know there are struggles in pass coverage. There is a huge upside as well. Mays is a special-teams stud. He's also a dominant run-stuffer and Pro Football Focus has laid it out for us in a stat they call Run Stop Percentage.
According to PFF, Mays ranks #1 in the NFL in the statistic, used to measure how often defenders were responsible for offensive failures relative to how often they were on the field. Instead of using tackles, which is severely limited - what good is a tackle if it is after a 20-yard gain - or stops(a stat derived from tackles determined by where the tackle takes place) run-stop percentage looks at the percentage of stops compared to run-plays faced.
That's where Joe Mays excels. In 322 run snaps, Mays had 46 stops, good for 14.29%. That was tied for first in the NFL with NoVorro Bowman of the San Francisco 49ers. That was better than Ray Lewis(4th), Lance Briggs(11th) and even the Chiefs' Derrick Johnson(20th)
In fact, if Mays can continue his run-stopping ways, the 3-year, $12 million he signed could be a bargain compared to some of those names. It just goes to show - John Fox and Jack Del Rio know defense and Joe Mays is a big part of stopping the run.