I have a deep respect for Football Outsiders. Their content is solid, emphasized by creative statistical analysis. They don't just tell you how many tackles a player posted. They tell you how effective those tackles were; was it 10-yard beyond the first down marker or around the line of scrimmage? We love Dhani Jones, but we also realize that not all of his team-leading 160 tackles were at the line of scrimmage. There were several in which he was dragging the ball carrier down from behind. If anything, Football Outsiders provides a context for the statistics, gives it meat and purpose.
For instance, take Aaron Schatz's definition of a Run Stop Rate:
Stop Rate is defined as the percentage of a players Plays that were Stops. Plays are any time a player shows up in the play-by-play on defense: tackles, assists, forced fumbles, etc. Stops are plays that stop the offense short of what FO considers a successful play: 45 percent of yards on first down, 60 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third or fourth down.
Schatz breaks down the run stop rate based on linebackers, defensive linemen and defensive backs, showing the top-12 players with the best run stop rates and the bottom-12 players with the worst run stop rates. Guys like Dallas' DeMarcus Ware, Baltimore's Terrell Suggs and Pittsburgh's James Harrison sport the best run stop rates for linebackers, while Green Bay's A.J. Hawk is the worst. No Bengals players were listed on either chart at linebacker or defensive linemen.
However, Reggie Nelson sported one of the league's worst run stop rates in the secondary at 26%. Of Nelson's tackles in the secondary, the ball carrier is averaging 8.1 yards/rush and only two were defined as Stops by Football Outsiders.
While Marvin Lewis has admitted that Reggie Nelson (along with Chris Crocker) are expected to be the team's starters in 2011, we've also made the argument that we believe Reggie Nelson is the best safety on the team. This isn't so much a belief based on what we've seen of him; rather the lack of options. Chris Crocker is the only signed safety on the team. Robert Sands is a rookie so we're not sure what to expect yet. Roy Williams isn't expected back. Chinedum Ndukwe, Gibril Wilson and Tom Nelson are free agents.
Cincinnati's defense is going to be critical this year if they want to remain, at the very least, competitive. With a new offensive coordinator, playbook, philosophy, quarterback, wide receiver and (maybe) running back, the offense will need time to get a handle while coming together as a cohesive killing machine. Mike Zimmer could face the most pressure on the coaching staff, keeping his defense from allowing the opposing from compiling big leads.
At last report, Reggie Nelson was working out with other NFL Players in Jacksonville.