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NFL Broken Tackle Stats -- No Surprise that James Harrison Amongst Most Reliable Tackling Linebackers in 2010

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On Monday, we took a look at the NFL's best and worst tackling defensive backs -- at least as measured by the rate at which they allowed an opponent to break a tackle on them and pick up extra yardage. Unsurprisingly, no Steelers showed up on the top ten least reliable tacklers in 2010. Bryant McFadden meanwhile appeared in the top ten most trusty tacklers with his meager broken tackle percentage (3.8%). Some have argued that McFadden shouldn't get much praise and that his tackles total for the season were a product of teams just picking on him constantly. Not quite the case when we're dealing with reality.***(Read further thoughts on B-Mac at end of post). 

For now though, let's turn our attention to the linebackers. To the numbers first; commentary to follow after charts.


Highest Broken Tackle Percentage -- Linebackers
Player Defense Broken Tackles Total Tackles Broken Tackle %
W. Witherspoon
TEN 15 62 19.5 %
K. Rivers
CIN 12 58 17.1 %
S. Shanle
NO 11 54 16.9 %
L. Tatupu SEA 12 64 15.8 %
G. Brackett
IND 9 51 15.0 %
D. Levy
DET 10 64 13.5 %
C. Gocong
CLE 8 52 13.3 %
J. Peterson
DET 9 60
13.0 %
D. Hawthorne
SEA 11 75 12.8 %
R. McIntosh
WAS 11 78 12.4 %


Lowest Broken Tackle Percentage -- Linebackers
Player Defense Broken Tackles Total Tackles Broken Tackle %
C. Matthews
GB 0 53 0.0 %
J. Mayo
NE 1 118 0.8 %
M. Boley
NYG 1 61 1.6 %
T. Spikes
SF 2 92 2.1 %
K. Brooking
DAL 2 79 2.5 %
P. Pusluszny
BUF 3 114 2.6 %
J. Harrison
PIT 3 75 2.6 %
B. Scott
NYJ 2 62 3.1 %
D. Ware
DAL 3 56 3.4 %
T. Suggs
BAL 3 55 3.5 %



  • Not sure I understand this qualification by FO's:

Don't make too much out of the fact that our game charters did not record Clay Matthews with a single broken tackle. There's a good chance we missed one at some point. What's important is that he had very few broken tackles, possibly zero.

So, you're saying we shouldn't believe your research and data? Does that same principle apply to the other folks on the list? I'm not the biggest FO fan in the world, but I respect there work and draw value from their efforts, but seriously don't understand that statement. Super amateur for an outfit that established.

  • I hate to say it, but Terrell Suggs is beastly. I'm so glad we get to cheer on guys like James Harrison (scary in a non tacky, Suggs-like way), but make no mistake about it -- that's a guy you want on your team.
  • If you recall, Tennessee also had the defensive back with the most missed tackles last year -- Michael Griffin. I suppose if you have a dominant front three our four you can get away with that kind of shakiness at second level, but the Titans didn't get that kind of top tier play from their defensive line. Not terrible, but not great. Probably why they finished 21st against the run and 26th in total yards allowed.
  • Impressive stuff by Matthews Jr., but I'd contend that Mayo's efforts were even more noteworthy. Patrolling the middle of the field from a 4-3 base defense, Mayo double the opportunities to stop a guy in his tracks. He faltered just once.
  • For as solid and praise worthy as James Harrison's season was, I bet if you showed Deebo that he missed three tackles, he'd be pissed off and go bench press smart cars.
  • Detroit and Seattle each with two linebackers with a high propensity to miss tackles. Not going to cut it. For Seattle, that trend is particularly troublesome. For Detroit, at least the Lions feature an incredible, young offensive line that might be able to pick up the slack.



*** Over 43 percent of B-Mac's total tackles on the season came in exactly 25 percent of the season's games (4). Of course, three of those games were against top flight QBs -- Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees. There's an argument to be made that you should only judge guys based on how they do against the creme de la creme. But not in the NFL. That's unrealistic and foolish.

Bottom line is McFadden has proven himself to be a perfectly suitable cog in Dick LeBeau's machine over the course of a long, grinding 16-game season. Like everybody else that plays defense, McFadden at times is made to look bad by QBs and offenses that are executing well. Not much you can do about that at times. Finally, look at that first Falcons game where McFadden had 12 tackles in Pittsburgh's 15-9 Week 1 win over the Falcons. Gasp! 12 tackles! Matt Ryan must just be feasting on him all day. Again, not quite.

McFadden squared off against All Pro Roddy White for much of the afternoon, and though White had 13 catches on the day, he mustered just 111 yards, and more importantly 0 TDs. Matt Ryan meanwhile had 252 yards through the air, but it took 44 passes to get to the quarter century mark. That's not going to cut it in this league. Teams with quick hitting passing games rely on missed tackles, and B-Mac just doesn't allow big plays to materialize after the catch because of missed tackles.