Pressure Points

I finally found a free stat site that tracks QB hurries. ESPN started listing QB hits (a sack is a QB hit, but so is a hurry). By looking at who got QB hits - sacks in a game you can track the number of hurries manually throughout the season. Additionally I found a site that lists the top 200 individual players in the league in terms of QB hurries (, however any player who had less than 3 (and presumably some who had three) do not show up on the top 200. In comparing data from the two sites I noted some discrepancies, so they must by tabulating Hurries differently. This will be evident later. They do list hurries for each player on that players page, but I found their data to be suspect so I went with my numbers (from the ESPN boxscores) when there was a conflict. Here is how sportingcharts defines a QB hurry

"Hurries is a statistic kept for defensive players, usually defensive linemen, when they "hurry" the quarterback into throwing the ball before he is ready. Hurries often result in incomplete passes or even interceptions. A hurry is considered to be an important statistic for defensive lineman, almost as important as a sack, stuff, or forced fumble."

As a team the The Broncos had 41 sacks on the season and (by my count) 62 hurries on 613 drop-backs against us. Our sack rate of 6.3% was 17th in the league. In 2012 our sack rate was 8.5% and the was the second best rate in the league. Our total pressure rate was 16.8% - meaning we got pressure even if we didn't get a sack on 1 out of every 6 opponent's passing plays. I was unable to find a free site that compared total pressure rate [(sacks + hurries)/drop-backs] for every team, but I did take a look at the Seahawks since they had the best pass defense in the league this year so theoretically they were getting good pressure on opposing QBs. I have noted before that there is very little correlation between sack rate and opposing QB rating. Here are the pressures for the 2013 regular season from our defense:

POS Sacks Hurries Total Pressures Def Snaps % pressure
Shaun Phillips DE 10 8 18 770 2.34%
Robert Ayers DE 5.5 9 14.5 506 2.87%
Derek Wolfe DE 4 6 10 553 1.81%
Malik Jackson DE 6 3 9 591 1.52%
Jeremy Mincey DE 2 0 2 60 3.33%
Terrance Knighton DT 3 6 9 597 1.51%
Sylvester Williams DT 2 4 6 297 2.02%
Kevin Vickerson DT 1 3 4 390 1.03%
Mitch Unrein DT 0 2 2 354 0.56%
Von Miller LB 5 4 9 541 1.66%
Danny Trevathan LB 2 6 8 948 0.84%
Wesley Woodyard LB 1.5 5 6.5 752 0.86%
Nate Irving LB 1 2 3 275 1.09%
Mike Adams S 0 1 1 692
David Bruton S 0 1 1 147
Chris Harris CB 0 2 2 1042

Sporting Charts had some other hurries that did not show up in the ESPN boxscores as QB hits so I am including those in a separate chart

Pos Sacks Hurries
Tony Carter CB 0 2
Kayvon Webster CB 0 1
Omar Bolden S 0 1.5
Paris Lenon LB 0 1
Duke Ihenacho S 0 2

Those who dislike Ayers are not going to like this, but he was our most effective pass rusher on a snap basis. While Phillips had more total pressures (and almost twice the sacks), he did it in 150 more snaps (roughly two full games worth of defensive snaps). Mincey's numbers look good, but he only took 60 defensive snaps for the Broncos so it's hard to read to much into his numbers. Playing a full season with the Jags in 2012 Mincey had 3 sacks and 6 hurries in 954 defensive snaps (0.90% pressure rate) so sincerely I doubt that he would have been able to maintain his pace over the course of an entire season. From the DT position Sly was our most effective pass rusher with Malik a close second (Malik plays both DE and DT). I did not weight a sack more than a hurry (and some might take issue with this), so Sly (only 2 sacks but 4 hurries) is credited with a better rate than Malik (6 sacks and 3 hurries). If I had weight sacks as more valuable, then Malik's rate would look better.

Note that I have included the defensive snaps so that we can see who is the most productive pass rusher on the team on a snap basis. I did not, however, include the number of pass rush snaps (which would be good to add) so that we could get a relative effectiveness rating for the LBs and DBs). This is more to compare players within a position group and hence the chart has been sorted by position group. Regarding the discrepancy that I noted earlier - Woodyard was credited with only 2 hurries by sportingcharts; while digging through the boxscores at ESPN, I found that he had 5 "QB hits" that did not result in a sack. I did not verify the data from sportingcharts for the players who showed up on the top 200 (Vickerson and Jackson showed up). The other players who had 3 or fewer pressures were tabulated from the ESPN boxscores unless otherwise noted.

From the LB spot, it's no surprise that Von was the most effective pass rusher. I was surprised to find that when Irving played he was able to generate pressure fairly well, but the LB numbers did mean a whole lot without knowing how many snaps were blitz and how many snaps were pass coverage (other than Von, who rarely drops into coverage). So take the LB rates with a grain of salt. In 2012 Von had 18.5 sacks and 12 hurries on 960 defensive snaps (3.2% pressure)

We did not generate much pressure at all from our defensive back this season (4 hurries and 0 sacks by my counting) - unless you go by the numbers from sporting charts. I can remember multiple instances of Adams, Harris and Bruton being used on blitzes so they must not have been very effective at getting the QB. Again it would be good to know the number of blitzes that those three were sent on (and other DBs) so that we could truly see who, if any, of our DBs had an impact when sent on a blitz.

Here is the breakdown from Sunday's opponent. Seattle was 5th in the league in sack% at 7.7% (44 sacks on 524 drop-backs). Shown below are the pressure rates from their defenders - for this I only used the data available at sportingcharts

Sacks Hurries Total Pressures Def Snaps % pressure
O'Brien Schofield LB 1 4 5 144 3.47%
Michael Bennett DE 8.5 8 16.5 600 2.75%
Cliff Avril DE 8 7 15 551 2.72%
Chris Clemons DE 4.5 10 14.5 570 2.54%
Jordan Hill DT 1.5 0 1.5 63 2.38%
Clinton McDonald DT 5.5 4 9.5 530 1.79%
Red Bryant DE 1.5 5 6.5 481 1.35%
Brandon Mebane DT 0 7 7 531 1.32%
Bruce Irvin LB 2 2 4 499 0.80%
Tony McDaniel DT 2 2 4 528 0.76%
Bobby Wagner LB 5 1 6 861 0.70%
K.J. Wright LB 1.5 2 3.5 738 0.47%
Malcolm Smith LB 1 1 2 482 0.41%
Walter Thurmond CB 1 0.5 1.5 479 0.31%

Schofield was used sparingly even though he played in 15 games, but he was effective when used on the blitz despite only registering 1 sack. Wagner and Irvin were the two LBs who were also used to pressure the QB. Irvin was not used a pass-rush specialist this season, so his numbers really dropped dramatically from 2012 (8 sacks and 3.5 pressures). Wagner got sacks when he got pressure, but I have no idea how often he was went. He played the most snaps of their LBs this season. Avril, Bennett and Clemons were all effective at generating pressure from the DE position. Bryant is the odd man out in that he is the only regular DE who didn't generate much pressure. Rookie Jordan Hill had the best pressure rate from the DT spot, but he only played in 4 games. Mcdonald had the best numbers this season of the regular DTs, Mebane had an odd year in that he didn't log a single sack but did generate 7 pressures giving him a better pressure % than McDaniel who had 2 sacks.

I'm not going to get into the discussion about the offensive lines that Broncos D faced compared to the offensive lines that the Seahawks D faced. Suffice it to say that the Seahawks have not faced an offensive line this year that is as good as the Broncos offensive line.

United in Orange!

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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