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Broken tackles, AFC South style

As Aaron Schatz points out in this informative piece, the Indianapolis Colts are going to rank relatively high on broken tackles allowed -- it’s the nature of having smaller players and being built more for speed.

So it should not surprise us that Indy’s defense ranked second in the league in broken tackles allowed in 2009, with at least one on 7.6 percent of their plays.

Broken tackle rates in the AFC South:

Offense:

3) Titans, 6.5 percent

4) Jaguars, 6.4

9t) Colts, 6.2

14) Texans, 5.7

Defense

2) Colts, 7.6

10) Titans, 6.4

12t) Jaguars, 6.1

13) Texans, 6.0

Melvin Bullitt, a safety virtually everyone, including me, thinks played quite well, was tops in missed tackle in the AFC South.

Here’s the top 10 courtesy of Football Outsiders:

Melvin Bullitt, 14

DeMeco Ryans, 12

Gerald Alexander, 11

Clint Session, 11

Keith Bulluck, 11

Reggie Nelson, 9

Bernard Pollard, 9

Dunta Robinson, 8

Antoine Bethea, 8

Jerraud Powers, 8

A few thoughts:

  • Linebackers should be top tackles since they are most involved in getting to ball carriers on both run and pass plays. So 12 for Ryans or 11 for Session or Bulluck don’t strike me as exceptionally bad.

  • There are different degrees of broken tackles permitted. I think most of us would agree Nelson and Robinson killed their teams at times by allowing monster plays when they were the last or close-to-the-last guy with a chance to drag a player down. Defensive back missed tackles can have a much more severe impact. (Bullitt and Bethea, playing with such fast help, probably had more guys getting in range to help, at least outside of the New England game.) A safety who played terribly like Michael Griffin is missing here, probably because on his worst plays people were running past him and he didn’t even have a chance to miss.

  • All of these guys but Bulluck twice had to try stopping the blazing, slippery Chris Johnson. All of these guys but Alexander and Nelson twice had to deal with bowling ball Maurice Jones-Drew.