Michael Nania brings together a multitude of metrics to rank all 32 EDGE groups in 2019. Where did the New York Jets land?
Back in March, I conducted a study that blended a bevy of different metrics to get a solid estimate of exactly where the New York Jets offensive line ranked amongst the league’s 32 units in 2019.
I decided to apply that concept to the rest of the game’s positions. Today, we look at edge rusher. The Jets have long been lacking upper-echelon talent at this position. How much of a liability was the unit in 2019?
The method behind the rankings is simple – for each statistic, every team is scored on a scale of 0-to-10. The worst team receives a 0, the best team receives a 10, and the other 30 teams are scored relative to those two points. The final rankings are assembled according to each team’s average score across all statistics.
Previous rankings can be found here:
Let’s dig into the metrics behind the 2019 edge rusher rankings.
Statistics are the combined totals of all edge rushers to play for each team in 2019. These numbers are evaluating the 2019 regular season only and do not account for any moves made since the season’s conclusion.
Getting heat on the quarterback is, of course, the number one thing that any team wants to see out of its edge rushers. Here is how the league’s EDGE units stacked up according to pressure rate – total pressures divided by cumulative pass-rushing snaps.
The Jets ranked way down at 28th with a pressure rate of just 9.7%, a few ticks below the positional average of 11.3%. Basham led the Jets with a solid 13.4% rate (39 pressures on 292 rushes). Jenkins was below average with a 9.7% rate (31 on 318). Phillips struggled badly in this facet, posting a 6.0% rate (16 on 268).
- Basham – 39 pressures on 292 snaps (13.4%)
- Jenkins – 31 pressures on 318 snaps (9.7%)
- Phillips – 16 pressures on 268 snaps (6.0%)
- Willis – 11 pressures on 97 snaps (11.3%)
- Luvu – 3 pressures on 23 snaps (13.0%)
- Kaufusi – 2 pressures on 37 snaps (5.4%)
- Langi – 0 pressures on 21 snaps (0.0%)
PFF Pass Rush Grade
Pro Football Focus grades the performance of all defensive players on each and every snap, sorting those grades into the different facets of the game (coverage, run, pass-rush). I weighted each edge rusher’s pass-rushing grade by playing time (pass-rush snaps) to get an aggregate grade for each group. Here is how the league stacked up.
The Jets again landed at 28th. Basham and Jenkins were actually okay in this area – Basham earned a 67.1 grade that ranked at the 52nd percentile among qualified edge defenders while Jenkins earned a 67.4 grade that landed him a few spots higher at the 55th percentile. In a small sample size, Willis showed promise with a 74.8 grade.
Phillips is the primary culprit. His grade of 52.0 was the second-worst among 64 edge rushers with at least 500 snaps. Luvu (63.8), Langi (58.6), and Kaufusi (53.1) were also below average in their limited time on the field.
Run stop percentage
The 2019 Jets defense was known for its prowess against the run. What role did the edge rushers play in that success?
A “run stop” is considered any tackle against the run that warrants a negative value result for the offense. For example, a stop for a gain of two yards on 3rd & 1 would not be a run stop, but a stop for two yards on 3rd & 3 would be.
I combined the totals of run stops and run defense snaps played for each EDGE group to get a cumulative rate. Here is how the league stacked up.
This is where the Jets edge rushers thrived. Phillips led the Jets with 18 stops, picking those up over 226 run defense snaps for an excellent rate of 8.0% (77th percentile). Basham was close behind, ranking at the 73rd percentile with a 7.8% rate (14 stops on 179 snaps).
On the downside, Jenkins was not very active against the run when it came to getting involved in productive tackles. He posted a run stop percentage of 4.5% (8 on 178), only good enough for the 22nd percentile.
The other four players combined for 10 stops on 123 snaps (8.1%).
- Phillips – 18 stops on 226 snaps (8.0%)
- Basham – 14 stops on 179 snaps (7.8%)
- Jenkins – 8 stops on 178 snaps (4.5%)
- Langi – 4 stops on 42 snaps (9.5%)
- Willis – 3 stops on 38 snaps (7.9%)
- Kaufusi – 3 stops on 27 snaps (11.1%)
- Luvu – 0 stops on 16 snaps (0.0%)
PFF Run Defense Grade
Pro Football Focus grades every defensive player’s performance against the run. I weighted each edge rusher’s run defense grade by playing time (run defense snaps) to get an aggregate grade for each group. Here is how the league stacked up.
The Jets edge rushers did not fare quite as well in PFF’s grading system as they did with raw production, ranking 14th with a 68.4 grade. That was decently above the league average of 66.7.
Phillips’ 76.6 grade led the team and ranked at the 82nd percentile. Basham’s 67.5 grade ranked at the 54th percentile, but Jenkins 63.0 grade (41st percentile) held the squad back a bit.
- Phillips – 76.6
- Langi – 70.6
- Basham – 67.5
- Willis – 66.8
- Jenkins – 63.0
- Kaufusi – 58.6
- Luvu – 38.4
Yards per cover snap
We move to the third and final facet of the EDGE position – coverage. Of course, each team varies in how often they like to drop their edge rushers into coverage. We’ll account for the disparity in coverage snaps later on.
For now, we continue ranking teams by efficiency, starting with yards per cover snap (yards allowed divided by coverage snaps). Here is how the league stacked up.
Gregg Williams and the Jets deployed their edge rushers in coverage for a combined 213 snaps, trailing only the Bears (217), so the unit’s performance in this facet is absolutely worth taking into account.
The Jets ranked 23rd when it came to yards per cover snap, allowing an average of 1.31 (positional average – 1.11). Here is a rundown of how the group fared:
- Basham – 73 snaps, 103 yards on 9-of-14 passing (1.41 yards per snap)
- Jenkins – 43 snaps, 54 yards on 3-of-3 passing (1.13)
- Langi – 30 snaps, 39 yards on 5-of-6 passing (1.39)
- Luvu – 24 snaps, 20 yards on 3-of-3 passing (0.83)
- Phillips – 21 snaps, 36 yards on 1-of-1 passing (1.71)
- Willis – 17 snaps, 27 yards on 2-of-2 passing (1.59)
PFF Coverage Grade
Pro Football Focus grades every defensive player’s performance in coverage. I weighted each edge rusher’s coverage grade by playing time (coverage snaps) to get an aggregate grade for each group. Here is how the league stacked up.
The Jets landed at 25th with a 58.5 grade that was solidly below the league average of 62.7.
- Basham – 70.1 (69th percentile among qualifiers)
- Phillips – 67.2 (62nd)
- Jenkins – 55.0 (29th)
- Luvu – 48.5 (DNQ)
- Willis – 48.1 (DNQ)
- Langi – 44.4 (12th)
The complete and final ranking
We’ve made it. Combining all six of the metrics shown above, we get a fairly solid ranking of all 32 EDGE groups in 2019.
A team’s final score is calculated through a weighted combination of its rush, run, and coverage scores. Each of those three scores is simply the average score of all statistics in that facet:
- Rush: Pressure rate and PFF Pass Rush Grade
- Run defense: Run stop percentage and PFF Run Defense Grade
- Coverage: Yards per cover snap and PFF Coverage Grade
Those three scores are valued according to the distribution of each EDGE group’s snap count. For example, the Jets edge rusher group played 53.4% of its snaps rushing the quarterback, 35.7% against the run, and 10.8% in coverage. Each phase is weighted accordingly to get the final score.
The moment you have been waiting for. Where did the talent-starved Jets EDGE group rank among the league’s 32 units?