Scott Salmon's post Back to Basics brought up that the Jets need to get back to basics, accomplishing the efficiency of doing it right even when the talent isn't there, and one of the things he brought up was tackling. So I was curious: How good (or poor) were the 2013 Jets at tackling? So I thought I'd do the crunching and produce team tackling efficiency numbers from the Individual Pro Football Focus stats and see where the Jets fell. In the above graph, the vertical axis (y) shows the team's combined tackling efficiency number, which is essentially the number of attempts at a tackle that would produce one missed tackle. The higher the better. Teams in the red hash marker were in the top 7 of defensive DVOA rankings. The 2013 Jets find themselves slightly better than the average NFL team (red marker), vertically in the cluster of really most NFL teams in terms of how frequently they missed a tackle. There are about 7 or 8 teams that really set themselves apart, sitting above the 10 mark.
Now these stats are only kept for linebackers, corners and safeties because they are the ones involved with both pass and run as it goes. In order to help with the picture though I included a team Run Stop % figure as well, which essentially how frequently a player would be involved in a "Run Stop". This is shown on the horizontal axis (x). A run stop is defined as: A stop is less than 40% of yardage needed for 1st down, 60% on second and 100% on 3rd and 4th
The Run Stop % stat is a run only stat, and as you can see the Jets were excellent, far and away the best in the league. One would expect something like this in that the Jets were on pace for nearly historically good run defense for much of the season.
Ideally a team would want to be as high on the graphic as possible (not missing tackles frequently), and to the right (stopping the success of runs). Of the two, the vertical is the more direct, tackle-quality stat in that it is centered around missed tackles.
Conclusions and Observations
By including Run Stop % we have maybe two dimensions of tackling. The Jets were tackling well enough to snuff the run consistently, but were missing tackles at around NFL average rates from their back 8. Part of the excellent Run Stop numbers were due to Allen's aggressive run support (15th out of 82 safeties PFF25) - unfortunately the very thing that was weakening the pass defense - but mostly it was due to the outstanding Run Stop %s of both Harrison and Ellis who were the top 2 Run Stop% guys in the league (PFF25). And Richardson was no slouch at 5th best (PFF50).
I included the Jets 2009 season because I wanted to see what the Jets looked like when they lead the league in Defense. Not crazy good tacklers that year, but pretty solid.
So were the Jets good tacklers in 2013? Let's say they had a spectacular Defensive Line which was great at gobbling up running backs, and an aggressive SS scheme that helped lock down the run, but in general they were average tacklers. Rex Ryan defenses probably aren't going to be super disciplined, fundamentally sound defenses, and it was a pretty big feat to come out slightly above NFL average with some lack of tackling aptitude at several positions on the D including Demario Davis who was 34th out of 39 ILBers in tackling efficiency (PFF50), Dee Milliner and Ed Reed who both seem allergic to the tackle (for different reasons) and Cromartie (who has a rep as a bad tackler, but has improved).
In the larger picture Seattle really looked good at the top with nearly a 12 tackling efficiency number. I was surprised to see Carolina so low (below average) though I had heard they went through some tackling consistency issues (I think?). Also I expected SF to be higher up as well. Interesting that Pettine's Buffalo team was the 2nd best in the league in tackling efficiency. Quietly he helped produce a pretty good defense in 1 year. 2nd best tackling efficiency, 4th best PRP.
As usual these are hand-assembled stats, there may be errors.