Have at It: Blitz effectiveness

September, 30, 2009
9/30/09
11:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert


During our award-winning SportsNation chat Tuesday, I got a request to focus this week’s “Have at It” on a topic that relates to something other than offense. I’m all for that in this year of Air and Space.

One division-wide trend we haven’t discussed much is the intention of all four Black and Blue teams to employ frequent blitz packages. Put simply: Each team entered the season with big plans to get after the quarterback. Consider:
  • Chicago blitzed more than any NFL team last season but indicated it will back off and move closer to its Tampa 2 roots.
  • New Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers is well-known for the zone, fire and other creative blitzes he runs out of his 3-4 scheme.
  • Detroit defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said during the offseason that he’d like to blitz 40 percent of the time.
  • And Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier has roots in the blitz-heavy schemes of the late Jim Johnson in Philadelphia as well as the Bears’ 1980’s-era 46 defense.

So this week, I’d like to know which teams you think have been most effective with the blitz this season. Which ones should use it more? Who, if anyone, should use it less? This should be a free-flowing conversation that is almost certain to careen into all sorts of directions, but as always I’ll do my best to pull it all together and offer you my take on Friday morning.

To guide the discussion, I asked our friends at ESPN Stats & Information to pull “added pressure” figures for each team in the league. You might be surprised by what they found: Three of our teams rank among the NFL’s top six in frequency of added pressure. And the Bears have “backed off” all the way to the No. 2 spot.

Remember, this analysis is based on ESPN’s independent video research and might not be identical to the way NFL teams measure the blitz. But with the same technique applied to all 32 teams, you can get a good sense for how NFC North teams compare to the league in a relative sense. The NFL average so far this season is to bring added pressure on 35.57 percent of snaps. Have at It.
NFC North defenses in added pressure
NFL Rank Team Pct. of total plays
2 Chicago 47.46
4 Minnesota 45.36
6 Green Bay
44.12
27 Detroit 24.07

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