Yesterday, I gave my opinion that the Green Bay Packers’ defensive linemen do a poor job of knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage.
I did so based on my own observations, not on any statistics. Some commenters had the gall – unmitigated, no less – to question the assertion.
I don’t doubt that someone keeps such statistics. If anyone is aware of this, please let me know.
Here’s the best I could do to come up with some stats on passes being knocked down by pass rushers. Statistics are kept on “passes defended,” or PDs. These include passes knocked down around the line of scrimmage, but they mostly consist of passes being batted down by defensive backs and linebackers covering receivers.
With those major limitations, I confined myself to examining players listed as defensive linemen. In almost all cases, I assume such linemen credited with PDs managed to knock down a pass as they were in pursuit of the quarterback.
For 2016, I came up with these league-wide results: six defensive linemen had six or more PDs, five had five PDs, five had four PDs, 21 had three PDs, 22 had two PDs, and 70 had one PD.
The three top knockdown artists were: Carlos Dunlop, Bengals, with 15; Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants, with eight; and A’Shawn Robinson, Lions, with seven. I’ve got to wonder if defensive end Dunlop doesn’t drop back into pass coverage on a frequent basis, which would account for him having more PDs than all but a handful of defensive backs – he’s tied for 13th among all defenders. I also see he is 6’6” and 280 pounds, so maybe he uses his height to great advantage when pass rushing.
How did the Green Bay defensive linemen stack up? Julius Peppers had three PDs, Datone Jones and Kenny Clark had two each, and Letroy Guion, Mike Daniels, Mike Pennel and Dean Lowry each had one. With three of the seven guys on this list no longer on the team, and with Guion being suspended for the first part of the year, prospects are that Packers fans will see even fewer passes batted down by the Packers’ defensive line in 2017.
In my prior post, I guessed that the Packers seldom batted down more than one pass per game. These stats show 11 knockdowns in 16 games; though knockdowns by linebackers aren’t included, I’d say I’m pretty close. Furthermore, the guy who accounted for the most knock-downs, Julius Peppers, was trained in such fundamentals for his first 12 years by the coaching staffs of the Panthers and Bears.
Though far from conclusive, these stats support my premise that the Packers’ defensive linemen aren’t in the habit of putting up their hands when the opposing quarterback begins to throw.
So I stand by my claim that this is a fundamental skill that might be preached, but isn’t adequately practiced, by Green Bay’s defensive line players.