A concerning stat: DeMeco Ryans ranked 15th out of 25 3-4 ILB’s in “snaps per tackle” in 2011

Wait, what’s “snaps per tackle?”  “Snaps per tackle” is pretty simple.  It’s the (number of snaps a player was on the field) divided by (the number of tackles the player had).  The lower the number, the better.

Here’s the full list of ILB’s with at least 400 snaps playing in a “true 3-4 defense”:

Rank Player Team Snaps Tackles Snaps per tackle
1 London Fletcher Redskins 1033 166 6.2
2 Donald Butler Chargers 652 96 6.8
3 NaVorro Bowman 49ers 1186 168 7.1
4 Perry Riley Redskins 505 68 7.4
5 Desmond Bishop Packers 916 120 7.6
6 Jovan Belcher Chiefs 662 87 7.6
7 Rocky McIntosh Redskins 516 65 7.9
8 Derrick Johnson Chiefs 1046 131 8
9 Keith Brooking Cowboys 409 50 8.2
10 Brian Cushing Texans 1098 133 8.3
11 Sean Lee Cowboys 868 105 8.3
12 Patrick Willis 49ers 958 113 8.5
13 Takeo Spikes Chargers 947 106 8.9
14 Karlos Dansby Dolphins 931 103 9
15 DeMeco Ryans Texans 682 75 9.1
16 Larry Foote Steelers 437 48 9.1
17 Bradie James Cowboys 414 44 9.4
18 Daryl Washington Cardinals 1022 106 9.6
19 James Farrior Steelers 779 81 9.6
20 Kevin Burnett Dolphins 1052 105 10
21 Bart Scott Jets 677 66 10.3
22 Lawrence Timmons Steelers 1050 99 10.6
23 AJ Hawk Packers 960 87 11
24 David Harris Jets 980 86 11.4
25 Paris Lenon Cardinals 1127 93 12.1

It’s really no surprise at all (to me at least) that London Fletcher would have the best numbers in this kind of metric.  The guy has been a tackling machine his entire career, and last year was no different.  That’s his job.  That’s what he’s asked to do, and he does it.

However, I was surprised to see newly acquired Eagles MLB DeMeco Ryans sitting there at 15th out of 25 players.  I should note that it’s difficult to compare players in this kind of metric.  While 3-4 defenses all share similar principles, the way players are utilized within them vary from team to team. Also, better teams (ie, the Texans), will typically face fewer rushes than the rest of the league. As pointed out to me by Sam Lynch of IgglesBlitz, it is notable that the Texans had the 4th fewest rushes against / game in the league vs. 16th passing attempts.  So I want to be clear here… I’m not trying to be KC Joyner here and invent some new statistic.  It’s far from perfect.

However, with Ryans, the concern is that he came off the field in nickel and dime defenses, which means that when the Texans had him on the field, he was likely seeing more running plays than the average player on the above list.  Keith Brooking played a similar role for the Cowboys, and he was an abomination of a player in 2011. Brooking’s numbers in this metric are better. For Ryans to be in the bottom half is surprising.  The thinking is that he’s a better fit for the 4-3 than he is in the 3-4.  To be determined.


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  5. AustonianAggie says:

    is Bradie James employable, according to this stat?

  6. AustonianAggie says:

    how (the &$*@#) does London Fletcher still do it?

  7. great post, my spouse and i surely adore this site, continue this

  8. Excellent info once again! Thumbs up.

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    great it’s a cool stuffhttp://www.oiemail.org

  10. brisulph says:

    I don’t think he will be quite as good as he was before in the 4-3 (and pre-injury), but this does not change my thoughts that he will be a solid MLB for the Eagles. A definite upgrade over what they fielded last year.

  11. Steve says:

    I’d love it if you compared that to his tackles per snap from the years he was a 4-3 LB.

    1. deg0ey says:

      Problem is that it’s not only the change from 4-3 to 3-4. In order to compare those two numbers, you’d also be comparing pre-injury with post-injury and a 2-gap system with a 1-gap system. It’s not necessarily the change of 4-3 to 3-4 that made the difference in his production, it could be something else (something that doesn’t necessarily change back by coming to Philly)

  12. D3Keith says:

    I feel like you posted this just so you have something to point to next time some Cowboys fan Yahoo! says you never criticize the Eagles.

  13. DCeaglesfan says:


    I don’t doubt your methodology, nor do I question your results; it is clear to me from your data and also from additional research I have done that Ryans was not the same player in 2011 as he was earlier in his career.

    However, it seems completely reasonable to me that this was because he shredded his Achilles tendon in 2010. I read that around 32% of players never recover from the injury, and the timetable for recovery is 9-12 months (http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/eagles/20120321_Eagles_confident_Ryans_well_on_road_to_full_strength.html).

    I know, I know…the Eagles seem to consistently whiff on the position, and part of me thinks it is too good to be true as well.

    1. “I don’t doubt your methodology, nor do I question your results; it is clear to me from your data and also from additional research I have done that Ryans was not the same player in 2011 as he was earlier in his career. ”

      We don’t disagree there.

  14. RogerPodacter says:

    can we all just refer to him as “demeco ryan” as a joke to everyone who pluralizes “asante samuel”?

    1. deg0ey says:

      Asante has clearly used his “playmaking ability” to pick DeMeco’s ‘S’.

  15. CarverM says:

    How about Perry Riley sitting there at 4th? Nice.

    1. WeNeedLinemen says:

      Riley did look good when he got on the field. He made a couple of mistakes in coverage but he looked fast and tackled hard.

  16. Will says:

    Wouldn’t the stat be better if it was “tackles per snap”? like as a percentage?

    Just my thoughts. I don’t think there’s much to read into this particular stat

    1. “Wouldn’t the stat be better if it was “tackles per snap”? like as a percentage?”

      It would yield the exact same results, just with different numbers.

      1. Will says:

        Yeah I know, but it isn’t “passes per interception, or passes per tds” it’s td percentage and int percentage.

        More underestandable imo

  17. Corry says:

    I’d be curious to know what the break down was over the season. Ryans was recovering from a torn achilles so was his “snaps/tackle” numbers lower in the first 8 games as opposed to the final 8? Did that drag the his average down? Or was this consistent? I’d like to think it improved as the season went on as he got healthier and and more accustomed to the 3-4.

    1. ICDogg says:

      Gotta agree with Corry. Ryans himself said he wasn’t “himself” until the last few games of the season.

      We’ll just have to wait and find out. Data mining isn’t going to get us any closer to the answer here.

    2. Yeah, I can do that. Maybe tomorrow.

    3. WeNeedLinemen says:

      There was a post from a Texans fan on PFT saying that he thought Ryans had improved towards the end of the year. It’s just one guy’s opinion but fans can see beyond stats.

      He is obviously popular with his team-mates, the journalists who have covered him seem to love the guy. At the very least it looks as though the Eagles have picked up a high character veteran who can provide leadership to a young linebacker corps.

      If he can recover fully from the injuries he has had over the past couple of years you’ve just picked up one of the best 4-3 MLBs around for a mid round pick. I am pretty sure I am not the only Redskin fan to worrying that the Eagles might have filled the biggest hole on their roster with a quality player, and that they’ve done it at litte cost.

      When I saw the trade announced it was definitely a FFS moment.

  18. Ryan says:

    I’m not concerned. Didn’t HOU play in their base 3-4 or dime? Cushing was on the field in the Dime, so not sure where DeMeco would Play other than givin him a breather…

  19. Rage114 says:

    Sorry. 12th. Still not worried.

  20. Rage114 says:

    Willis. 13th. Not worried.

  21. theguyotc says:

    You’re not looking at this the right way.

    Clearly, opposing players went out of their way to avoid going near DeMeco Ryans, out of fear and respect.

    1. ICDogg says:


    2. bula says:

      don’t know about anyone else but i prefer this theory

  22. Smitty2K3 says:

    A little concerning indeed. I wanted to see this because I knew his snaps were limited compared to most other 3-4 ILB’s. So obviously comparing total tackles isn’t a fair comparison. But seeing this statistic isn’t exactly what I was hoping to see.

    I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt though given that he was coming back from injury. I guess we’ll know soon enough if he fits the 4-3 MIKE position a lot better.

    Good work btw. Appreciate it.

    P.S. It must be nice to have the Niner’s ILB’s. Bowman and Willis are nasty.

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