When it comes to pass rush, sacks never tell the complete story. While the ultimate goal is to get home for a quarterback takedown, anything a defender can do to disrupt the passing game spells a win for both defender and defense.
ESPN Analytics has devised Pass Rush Win Rate. It’s a metric that measures the percentage of pass rush opportunities a defender is winning against his opponent.
These are events that can have a critical impact on games but do not necessarily appear on the stat sheet. An interception will surely appear in the box score, but the hurry that forced the errant throw will not.
It comes as absolutely no surprise to see NFL sack leader Shaquil Barrett ranking among the league’s elite edges sitting in fifth-place with a win-rate of 25 percent. The breakout star for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finds himself ahead of even some of the league’s brightest stars in DeMarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney, and Za’Darius Smith.
This proves Barrett isn’t just getting home to finish quarterback captures but is being as consistently disruptive as just about anyone in the NFL.
Barrett isn’t the only Buccaneer listed among the league’s elite pass-rush company. Second-year player and human bulldozer Vita Vea ranks seventh among all interior defenders in Pass Rush Win Rate at 15 percent.
What makes that even more impressive is Vea is one of only two in the top 10 that plays nose tackle in an odd (3-4) front along with the Arizona Cardinals’ Corey Peters.
You can count on one hand the number of players in the NFL that are both stout enough to anchor one of the league’s top defenses while also getting after quarterbacks at this elite level. Vea has truly grown into one of the league’s rarest, most-dominating interior defenders.
As a defense, the Buccaneers also find themselves among the elite in pass-rush production. Their impressive 53 percent win-rate on dropbacks ranks third in the NFL behind the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons.
This means it’s not just Vea and Barrett causing trouble upfront but also veterans Carl Nassib and Ndamukong Suh, rookie Devin White, and Comeback Player of the Year candidate Jason Pierre-Paul.
While much has been made of the Buccaneers’ young secondary appearing to improve by leaps-and-bounds every week, we would be remiss not mentioning this consistent level of disruption having served as the catalyst.
The young guys on the back end are making remarkable progress, but budding stars Vita Vea, Shaquil Barrett, and their supporting cast have been the ones making it possible.