At some point between now and the start of the regular season, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt will more than likely sign a lucrative long-term contract extension being as he’s now in the final year of his rookie contract. On Thursday, Pro Football Focus provided an interesting run defense stat for Tuitt, who is currently sidelined for the start of the Steelers OTA practices as he recovers from offseason hand surgery.
According to PFF, Tuiit has registered 45 run stops over the course of the last two seasons and when it comes to 3-4 defensive ends league-wide, only five other players have registered more than him.
Before we go any further, its important to clarify what a run stop is. In short, it is a run play tackle made by a player that results in a failure. While PFF did not clarify, I assume they are scoring run play stops on first downs when less than 45% of the yardage needed on a particular play is not achieved. On second downs, if 60% of the yardage needed for a new set of downs or a score is not achieved that is also likely considered a failed play in PFF’s eyes. On third and fourth downs, if 100% of the yardage is not achieved on a play, that is also considered a failed play.
PFF has Tuitt down for 22 total run stops in 2016 and based on the NFL play-by-play from last season, that stat checks out. I didn’t double-check PFF’s numbers for 2015, but will assume they’re correct. Based on my research from the 2016 season, 13 of Tuitt’s 22 total run stops came on 1st and 10 plays and that’s always great to see. Additionally, 8 of his run stops in 2016 resulted in zero or negative yards gained.
Now, Tuitt only played in 28 regular season games over the course of the last two years so he was one run stop short of averaging two a game. I took this study a bit further because I was curious to see how many run stops Tuitt has had in the five playoff games he’s participated in over the course of the last two seasons. My quick research of the play-by-play from those five playoff games shows that Tuitt had a total of 10 run stops, an average of two of game. However, in full disclosure, three of those run stops included him tackling the opposing quarterback.
It will now be interesting to see if Tuitt can improve his run stop numbers in 2017. He’s averaged 22.5 run stops over the course of the last two seasons and thus it would be nice if he could hit 35 or more in 2017 if he plays in all 16 regular season games.