True Sack Rate (TSR): A film project to quantify sack production - Week 16 update

For a complete background on the TSR metric including how sacks are graded and the definition of terms click here.

Results & findings through 16 weeks of the season

  • The Top 23 in sack score rankings (minimum score of ‘6’):

  • Myles Garrett continues to dominate with a 15.25 sack score thanks to an astonishing rate of HQ sacks. Seven of his 13 sacks have came from using his signature cross-chop technique, a move set up by his brilliant use of stutters and hesitations to freeze pass-blockers before he blows by them with his speed and bend. There is simply not a more productive or impactful edge-rusher in the NFL this year when it comes to sack production.

  • There are some surprising names in the top 10 sack score column such as Haason Reddick (2nd), Romeo Okwara (6th), and Emmanuel Ogbah (10th). I went back and studied every meaningful pass-rush rep of these three and came away very impressed with their individual skill-sets and developing pass-rush plans. This led to each being named one of the 10 most underrated edge-rushers I’ve seen on tape this season that you can read more about here.

  • An age column has been added to the TSR this week that helps bring valuable context into each rusher’s production.

    • Garrett’s amazing season is made even more so by the fact that he is the youngest pass-rusher in the top 10 sack score rankings at 25.0 years old and the 3rd youngest rusher in the top 25 sack score (Brian Burns in 13th is the youngest at 22.7 years old and Josh Sweat in 18th is the 2nd youngest at 23.8 years old).

    • As mentioned in the previous TSR update for Week 14, Jason Pierre-Paul is having an extremely impressive season (6th in sack score), especially considering he is the oldest rusher (32.0) in the top 20 sack score rankings and one of only two that are at least 30-years old (the other being Olivier Vernon in 8th at 30.2 years old).

  • Yannick Ngakoue is quietly having a very productive season in terms of sack production, currently ranking 11th in sack score with 7 sacks (4 HQ) and is tied for the most forced fumbles in the NFL with Haason Reddick (5). Ngakoue’s cross-chop technique remains one of the more potent signature moves in the NFL and he has used it on 3 of his sacks this season. At just 25.8 years old, Ngakoue is just entering his prime with 45.5 sacks and 18 forced fumbles under his belt.

  • Joey Bosa is the only rusher inside the top 10 sack score rankings that has played under 65% of his teams’ snaps (56%) thanks to his unmatched level of skill as a pass-rusher, which the TSR is recognizing with 7 of his 8 sacks being HQ (5) or RHQ (2). These 7 sacks are highlighted below, including what is probably my favorite sack of the season against Bengals RT Bobby Hart:

  • There are 7 undrafted free agents inside the top 45 sack score rankings (minimum score of ‘4’):

    • Romeo Okwara (6th), Shaquil Barrett (14), Dennis Gardeck (15th), Malik Reed (24th), Kerry Hyder (28th), Mario Addison (36th), and Benson Mayowa (45th).

  • Draft slot breakdown of the top 50 sack score rankings:

    • 1st rounders: 21

    • 2nd rounders: 9

    • 3rd rounders: 5

    • 4th rounders: 6

    • 5th rounders: 2

    • 6th rounders: 0

    • 7th rounders: 0

    • UDFAs: 7

  • The highest rated 6th round edge-rusher this season is Texans OLB Jacob Martin with a sack score of 3, ranking 49th.

  • The highest rated 7th round edge-rusher this season is Vikings DE Ifeadi Odenigbo with a sack score of 2.5, ranking 64th.

  • I’ve written about him several times for the TSR already this season, but Dennis Gardeck is up to 15th in sack score rankings despite playing just 93 snaps the entire season. Nobody inside the top 50 has played under 250 snaps. If you want to see the moves he wins with as a pass-rusher, his catalog can be found here and you can read a more comprehensive breakdown of him here.

The top 17 in total HQ sacks (minimum of four):

  • Of the players with at least 50% of snaps played, there are 5 that have yet to record a single HQ sack:

    • Tanoh Kpassagnon (69%), Jerry Hughes (64%), Kyler Fackrell (55%), Dante Fowler (54%), and Tyus Bowser (50%).

  • One notable omission from the top 17 in HQ sacks is Trey Hendrickson, who ranks 5th in the NFL in total sacks with 12, but only 3 of them being HQ. 7 of his 12 sacks have come simply from staying active or the quarterback holding the ball for too long.

  • 4 of Za’Darius Smith’s 6 HQ sacks and 8 of his 13 total sacks have come from the 3-technique alignment, which is where he is most effective rushing the passer. Smith has a ‘heavy head’ that he uses on bull-rushes to rattle pass-blockers and violent, decisive use of hands to win quickly, making him the most dynamic ‘spinner’ in the NFL.

  • Every one of Olivier Vernon’s 8 sacks this season are HQ, the only edge-rusher in the NFL outside of Myles Garrett with at least 4 sacks that can say every sack is HQ. Vernon doesn’t have a very diversified pass-rush plan, but his bull-rush is very effective paired with a push-pull counter off of it. All 8 of his sacks were notched using one of these two moves.

Top 5 leaders in most sacks per snap (minimum of 400 snaps):

1. Trey Hendrickson - 1 sack every 44.6 snaps (535 snaps)
2. Myles Garrett - 1 sack every 54.2 snaps (705 snaps)
3. T.J. Watt - 1 sack every 57.0 snaps (855 snaps)
4. Za’Darius Smith - 1 sack every 60.9 snaps (792 snaps)
5. Haason Reddick - 1 sack every 61.6 snaps (801 snaps)

  • Reddick was named one of the 10 most underrated edge-rushers that I’ve seen on tape this season thanks in large part to sheer athletic ability and quickness, which are at an elite level. Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph deserves credit for the way he has moved Reddick around the defense to create isolated matchups, using him extensively on stunts, and allowing him to capitalize on his special change of direction skills. 5 of Reddick’s sacks have come rushing from the left side and 5 have come from the right, with the remaining three coming against tight ends or running backs. Reddick will need to continue to develop his signature inside-out stutter swipe move along with his cross-chop move to sustain his production long-term, but it is always great to see a player put in positions to succeed based on what they can currently do best.

Top 5 leaders in most HQ sacks per snap (minimum of 400 snaps):

1. Myles Garrett - 1 HQ sack every 54.2 snaps (705 snaps)
2. Joey Bosa - 1 HQ sack every 78.4 snaps (549 snaps)
3. Olivier Vernon - 1 HQ sack every 93.6 snaps (749 snaps)
4. Josh Sweat - 1 HQ sack every 105.3 snaps (421 snaps)
5. Carlos Dunlap - 1 HQ sack every 111.4 snaps (557 snaps)

  • Sweat ranking in the top 5 in HQ sack rate is extremely impressive considering he has only played 41% of his teams’ snaps this season. He’s also the youngest player in the top 35 in HQ sacks per snap (23.8 years old) yet has an extremely diverse set of moves to win with. Sweat’s game is oozing with potential and this season he has started to bridge the gap between his immense physical talent and skill, something that the TSR is picking up on.

Next week the TSR will come to a close and a final article recapping the season rankings with another round of new insights and findings will be sent out.

This off-season I plan to chart every edge-rusher sack of the 2019 season using this same methodology plus chart every interior pass-rusher sack from the 2020 season. This will allow us to have more data to parse through and hopefully identify trends, weak spots in my process, and additional value in this metric. I also really want to study the interior rusher sacks because there are a few guys that I think aren’t getting nearly enough hype this season (Ex: Panthers DT Efe Obada).

You can expect updates on both of these off-season projects shortly after the season ends with various articles coming over the spring and summer as I dive deeper into everything the TSR has uncovered.