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Tackles Don’t Matter: Evaluating Run Defense Through Statistics

Even with the increased emphasis on passing in the modern NFL, designed runs still account for close to 40 percent of all offensive plays. Yet, there still has been a general lack of quantifiable metrics to evaluate individual defender performance against the run.

Tackles, forced fumbles, and only recently broken tackles make up the small list of individual run defense metrics most analysis has had to rely on. Unfortunately, this has led to an overemphasis on the simplistic total tackles metric when it comes to discussing the value defenders provide. To get a better understanding of an individual defender’s performance in the run game, let’s take a look at some more advanced metrics that can be gleaned from Sports Info Solutions charting data.

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