NFC South: broken tackles

Bucs best at breaking tackles

June, 15, 2011
In terms of breaking tackles, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the best in the league last year and NFC South running backs fared very well in general in this category.

Broken tackles aren’t an official stat, but Football Outsiders charted every game last year and they define a broken tackle as an instance in which the ball carrier escapes from the grasp of a defender or fakes out a defender who is in good position to make a tackle.

Using those guidelines, Football Outsiders determined that the Bucs broke tackles on a league-high 8.1 percent of their offensive plays last season. The Panthers broke tackles on 6.5 percent of their plays. The Falcons were at 6.2 percent and the Saints at 6.1 percent.

A large chunk of Tampa Bay’s broken tackles came from running back LeGarrette Blount. He ranked third in the league by breaking tackles on 16 percent of his touches. New Orleans running back Chris Ivory led the league at 16.9 percent.

Blount and Ivory didn’t have as many carries as Atlanta’s Michael Turner and he finished tied for third in broken tackles by running backs with 38. Blount had 33 broken tackles and Ivory 27. Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart broke 25 tackles.

Broken tackles in the NFC South

May, 26, 2010
This really shouldn’t come as any surprise, but two members of the Tampa Bay secondary were the worst tacklers in the NFL last year.

The folks at Football Outsiders sat down and reviewed every game from last season.

They looked for broken tackles, which they defined as “one of two events: Either the ball carrier escapes from the grasp of the defender, or the defender is in good position for a tackle but the ball carrier jukes him out of his shoes. If the ball carrier sped by a slow defender who dived and missed, that didn't count as a broken tackle.’’

Under that definition Tampa Bay safety Sabby Piscitelli led the league in broken tackles. Teammate Ronde Barber finished second. By the way, Tampa Bay safety Tanard Jackson wasn’t far behind. Atlanta safety Erik Coleman and former Carolina safety Chris Harris also were pretty high on the list.

I’m not allowed to share the entire breakdown, but, if you have an Insider account, you can get the whole rundown on broken tackles here.

Also, and this one’s free for all, you can get a team-by-team breakdown on broken tackles here. The Football Outsiders totaled up how many broken tackles each defense had and how many each offense forced.

The Tampa Bay defense finished second in the league with 94 broken tackles. On the positive side, the Carolina offense (I’m guessing DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart had a lot to do with this) led the league by forcing 117 broken tackles.