Ok, another thread about the pass rush. I wanted to know what the real correlation was between having a good pass rush and playoff success. Because espn.com doesn't track QB pressures until 2009, I just went simple and used sacks as the key stat. I know this doesn't give the whole picture, but I went back the last 5 years in the playoffs (2006-2010) and looked at the scores, the passing attempts, and the sacks, and calculated the sack percentage (sack per pass attempt). The reason for calculating the sack percentage should be obvious: 3 sacks in 15 pass attempts is better pressure than 3 sacks in 30 attempts. I wanted to see what the relationship really is. I have the excel file...not sure if there's any way to post it somewhere here. Anyway, here are some things I found...... 1. 21 teams had a sack % of less than 3.0 in an individual game. The record of these 21 teams in these games was 10-11. 2. 23 teams had a sack % of 10.0 or above in an individual game. The record of these 23 teams in these games was 13-10. 3. The two teams with the highest single-game sack % over the last 5 years were the 2007 Steelers (in the WC round against Jax) and the 2010 Ravens (in the Div round against Pit). The Steelers had a sack % of 19.0% (4 sacks in 21 opposition pass att), and the Ravens had a sack % of 18.8% (6 sacks in 32 opposition pass att). Both these teams, with dominating pass rushes, lost. Interestingly, both these teams gave up 31 points to the opposition. 4. Here are the teams' records with these #'s of sacks in games: - 6 sacks: 2-1 (.667) - 5 sacks: 5-0 (1.000) - 4 sacks: 3-4 (.429) - 3 sacks: 13-10 (.565) - 2 sacks: 11-12 (.478) - 1 sack: 15-17 (.469) - 0 sacks: 6-11 (.353) - 4+ sacks: 10-5 (.667) - 2 or 3 sacks: 24-22 (.522) - < 2 sacks: 21-28 (.429) 5. Average sacks per W: 2.3. Average sacks per L: 1.7. Average sack % per W: 6.2%. Average sack % per L: 5.4%. 6. In the Super Bowl, the top 4 sacking teams went 1-3 (the only W being the 2007 Giants...ugh). The only SB team that had 0 sacks (the Saints) won the game. 7. In the Conference Championships, the top 5 teams in sack % went 1-4. Only the 2008 Steelers (well, they played the CC in 2009) won with a top-level sack %. The bottom 6 teams in sack % went 5-1. 8. The last 3 SB champions got out-sacked by their opponent in the Super Bowl. 9. I also looked at the last 2 years just to see about sacks + QB hits. I calculated total "pressure index" as being sacks (x2) + QB hits. I figure a sack is worth twice what a QB hit is. Just my own formula, which I admit may or may not have a true correspondence to reality. But it is what it is. Teams that had a pressure index of .250 or better (calculated as ((Sacks x 2) + QB hits)/Pass att) went 10-8 (.556). Teams that had a pressure index of .150 or worse went 8-5 (.615). Interesting. Up to this point you can see that obviously, it's an advantage to have more sacks than fewer. Kind of makes sense. But it's not as big an advantage as I would have thought. But here's really the key: sack % differential. In other words, it's not so much how good are you at generating sacks; it's how good you are at generating sacks *compared to your opponent in that game*. Teams that were better than +.060 in sack % differential were 11-3 (.786). Teams that had a positive sack % differential were 29-23 (.558). Ok, what about the Patriots? What have the Pats' been like since 2006 in the playoffs? The Pats have played 8 playoff games from 2006-2010, compiling a record of 4-4. Here are some facts: - They have had 4 games where they've generated 3 sacks. They are 2-2 in those games. - They have had 4 games where they've generated 0 or 1 sack. They are 2-2 in those games (but 0-2 in games with 0 sacks). - They have had just 3 of those 5 games which had a positive sack % differential. They are 2-1 in those games. Obviously, they are 2-3 in games where they have had a negative sack % differential. - In their 4 wins, here's their stats: * 69 pts allowed (17.3/g) * 143 opponents' pass attempts (35.8/g) * 8 sacks (5.6% sack %) (2.0/g) - In their 4 losses, here's their stats: * 116 pts allowed (29.0/g) * 116 opponents' pass attempts (29.0/g) * 6 sacks (5.2% sack %) (1.5/g) So not much difference in their sack %, really. So what does all this data suggest? It's good to have a quality pass rush in the playoffs, no doubt. But it's not a deciding factor, generally. I think we can say that the Giants' pass rush in 2007 really disrupted the Patriots' offense, for sure. But even then - *even then* - the Pats' managed to put themselves in a position to win the game if one of about 5 or 6 plays goes their way in the Giants' last drive. So even that one could have easily gone the other way. Other things, like efficiency and turnovers, are better indicators of playoff success than sacks or QB pressure are, even though it's better to get pressure than to not. Very long (but hopefully somewhat interesting) story short: QB pressure isn't everything. It's one factor in what makes a playoff defense successful, but it is far from the only thing, and it's not even necessarily one of the most important, despite what it feels like to us. You can win a championship without having a great pass rush. Hard to believe, but true.