OK, you and I know that this is supposed to be an analysis of our Leo's statistics.
Stifle those yawns!
I am supposed to be objective here, aren’t I?
I present the stats of these players for every snap that they have played in 2010 according to Pro Football Focus.
I search those stats for inconsistencies and patterns. I do comparative analysis based upon the players percentage of his team's snaps that he played.
I sniff for this stuff. WOOF!
The stats sometimes run afoul of the fans', and my own perception of a player’s greatness, or at least goodness. After all, aren’t they our “pet cats?”
Well, that’s tough. Deal with it, and get a dose of statistical reality.
In this installment, we will take an honest look at safety Louis Delmas’ performance in 2010.
Fans call him “the missile” for the reckless abandon with which he plays.
Reckless is apropos.
Fans were buzzing that Delmas looked to be primed for a Pro Bowl run in 2010. Then came the offseason brain fart.
Delmas, always the vocal leader, partially tore a groin muscle while he was, in his own words, “goofing off” in the weight room with teammates.
While it was hoped that Delmas’ injury would heal with rest, it never did.
Delmas played a remarkable 940 defensive snaps. Only the departed OLB Julian Peterson (958) and DT Ndamukong Suh (997) saw more snaps in the Lions defense.
There were only 35 safeties who played at least 75 percent of their team’s defensive snaps. Overall, Delmas tied for 19th in this group according to PFF’s grading system.
PFF doesn’t make any distinction between free or strong safeties for good reason. Safeties are expected to be largely interchangeable in modern defensive schemes.
There are two basic schemes that safeties play. The most popular is the “Two-Cover”, also known as the “Tampa Two”. In this scheme, both safeties play 12-15 yards behind the line of scrimmage, and play at the same depth.
The other scheme is the more traditional “One-Cover” scheme. Here, the SS shades the strong side of the formation and plays 7-10 yards behind the line, or “in the box” at LB depth. The FS is the centerfielder in the one-cover scheme, and plays as deep as 20 yards behind the line, shading the weak side.
The reason that this discussion is important is that the Lions play the one-cover defense predominantly, but use a two-cover look on occasion. The Lions roster misidentifies Delmas as a FS.
Delmas is a SS. This is born out by the stats.
Delmas made 72 solo tackles and had 10 assists. Of the 35 busiest safeties, Delmas ranked 12th in total tackles.
By contrast, Amari Spievey (576 snaps) and C.C. Brown (607 snaps) combined for 84 total tackles in 1183 snaps.
Now comes the bad stat news. Delmas missed 11 tackles. This put him in a five-way tie for the 11th most whiffs in the NFL. What’s really disturbing is that of the five safeties who missed 11 tackles, Delmas played the fewest snaps.
Delmas recorded two QB sacks, two QB hits, and six QB pressures, good for 4th best overall.
Spievey and Brown combined for zero sacks, two hits, and four pressures.
The SS is expected to be more active in rushing the QB than a FS in the one-cover scheme.
Of the 35 safeties who played at least 75 percent of their team’s defensive snaps, Delmas was targeted 35 times. This ranked as the 16th fewest.
Delmas gave up 21 receptions for a 60 percent completion average. This was the 16th best completion percentage against a safety in this group of 35.
Delmas gave up 232 receiving yards (11.0 avg), which was good for 7th place. This indicates that Delmas had short zone coverage, which is what you would expect to see from a SS.
Of those 232 receiving yards, 104 were YAC. Here’s where those missed tackles take their toll, as Delmas dropped to 15th place in the YAC category.
Delmas gave up only one TD, but had no interceptions and defended only one pass.
The QB rating against Delmas was 89.0. Delmas ranked 20th in this category.
Delmas is hardly the ball hawking safety that he has been characterized as of late.
Coaching Point No. 1
It will be no secret to offensive coordinators that Delmas’ missed tackles and YAC will cause him to be targeted more in 2011 than he was in 2010.
Delmas committed only three penalties. This ranked him as the 7th most penalized safety, an improvement over 2009 where he was flagged four times.
A Brief Look at 2009:
Delmas actually made some incremental improvement over his performance in 2009.
84 total tackles, 13 missed tackles, one QB sack, 3 hits, 4 pressures, 35 targets, 22 receptions given up for 302 yards, a whopping 244 YAC, five TDs, 2 interceptions, 1 pass defended, and a QB rating of 106.9.
Lions fans love those big hits by Delmas, and pencil him in on the depth chart as a lock to start.
The stats paint quite a different picture of Delmas, who looks rather average, at best.
The job may be his to lose, and his performance in 2011 might improve after successful groin surgery.
Unless he improves in two key areas, missed tackles, and YAC, Delmas’ job is anything but a lock.
While every Lions fan concedes that Delmas is the top safety on the squad, the stats point out that the unit is in serious need of an upgrade.
Next up: OC Dominic Raiola
Mike Sudds is a Syndicated Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Mike is also an analyst and correspondent for DraftTek.com.