As much as I love Von Miller and all that he has contributed to the Denver Broncos, J.J. Watt has been the best pass rusher in the league during their shared time in the NFL. Both were drafted in 2011. I wanted to name this stat a “Von”, but I could not, in good conscience, do that after looking at the data.
So what is a Watt? In football terms One Watt is either a QB hit or a QB sack so total Watts = sacks + QB hits. This article will not discuss QB pressures since that is not a stat that the league officially tracks.
How many “Watts” did the Broncos defense generate?
If you want to parse that by Snaps by Watt to see who was the most effective pass rusher you get this
You find that one a per snap basis, Shane Ray was slightly more effective than Von Miller. Note that not all of the defensive snaps here are pass rush snaps, so that to really make this number meaningful I would need to show pass rush snaps and not just defensive snaps. Darian Stewart, Bradley Roby and Aqib Talib rarely rushed the passer.
The general trend is that sacks are staying relatively constant while QB hits are increasing each year. Note that the NFL only starting tracking QB hits in 2006.
Oddly enough this was a down year for individual pass rushers with the league leader having only 39 Watts on the year.
Pass Rushing Effectiveness 2011-2016
Von Miller and JJ Watt have both been in the NFL for six seasons now. If you look at the best pass rushers in the league and track how well they have done over this time frame, you find that JJ Watt is a step above Von Miller. See below.
Note that while I did include Aaron Donald, who looks at this point in his career to as good as Von Miller at pressuring the QB, I did not include Joey Bosa, who had a great rookie year with 31.5 Watts (tied for 12th best in the league). If there are pass rushers that I have left off this list, let me know in the comments and I will provide their data. I’m sure their are those whom I have forgotten.
The reason why J.J. Watt should have this stat named for him is this: The league only started tracking QB hits in 2006. Only 4 players have had 50 or more Watts in a year. Demarcus Ware, Jared Allen, Robert Quinn and J.J. Watt. J.J. Watt has done it four times. The other three guys have done it once. So J.J. has more instances of 50 or more Watts than the rest of the league combined.