Packers Three-Man Rush Revisited: Football Outsiders Responds to Inquiry
As I opened up my e-mail Tuesday evening, I was pleasantly surprised with a message from Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders. You see, a little over a month ago, as I was preparing for my article about Dom Capers and his use of the three-man rush, I decided to send Football Outsiders a query for some information to beef up my analysis. It’s hard to find statistics on the effectiveness of certain types of plays, but I knew they would have this sort of information logged into their databases.
Here was my original message:
As a Packers fan and blogger, I have heard many complaints about Dom Capers’ use of the three-man rush, especially in third-and-long situations. I was wondering if you had any stats/analysis on the effectiveness of this strategy regarding the Packers defense and/or the NFL as a whole.
And then I waited…
…and eventually decided to finish the article without the information. By this time, the Packers had finished beating the Chicago Bears in Week 17, and I saw some good footage I could use instead.
But lo and behold, I finally received my answer. So I thought I would share it with you, because I found it rather fascinating. (It also helps to confirm my suspicions that most people complain about the three-man rush due to faulty preconceptions.)
Here’s what Aaron Schatz found out:
This would be as good a time as any to answer this question! Sorry it took me so long.
Believe it or not, overall rushing three is actually a little more effective than rushing four. Here are the league-wide numbers for all the games we’ve charted in 2010, with yards per pass and defensive success rate.
3 6.1 60%
4 6.5 55%
5 5.9 57%
6+ 5.7 60%
Now of course, most of the time when a defense rushes three, it does so because it is the second half and they are protecting a lead, but I went and checked and the numbers don’t really change if you consider only the first half.
As for Green Bay, our numbers suggest that those complaints about rushing three are a bit misplaced. The Packers rushed three on 18 percent of plays, tied for third in the NFL. On those plays, they allowed 5.8 yards per pass with a spectacular 72 percent success rate.
On third-and-long (7+ yards to go) they allowed 7.4 yards per pass but had a 75 percent success rate because so many of those passes were short dumpoffs. (For the record, we have 51 charted passes as rushing three on third-and-long.)
The Packers also had three picks in third-and-long when rushing three, all in recent weeks: Week 14 on a Drew Stanton pass to Tony Scheffler, Week 16 on an Eli Manning pass to Hakeem Nicks, and Week 17 on a Jay Cutler pass to Johnny Knox.
Hope that helps.
As I said, pretty interesting stuff across the board.
I’d also like to add to his last paragraph that both of Tramon Williams’ game-changing interceptions in the Divisional playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons came against the three-man rush, as well.
Who could have guessed that Dom Capers knows what he’s doing?——————Follow @ChadToporski