I applaud the fact you’re here in spite of that lazy title. It is, after all, just a re-wording of yesterday’s “In the slot: A statistical comparison of Carlos Rogers and Eric Wright.” It was all could muster, anyways. Sometimes the title is hardest part. But, enough self-loathing — as one Facebook commentor once wrote, “Everyone wants to hold the baby; nobody wants to see how it’s made,” or something to that effect.
Anyways, as promised, here are both run and pass specific stats for Isaac Sopoaga and Glenn Dorsey for your consideration.
Against the run
The difficulty with the following stats is that it’s impossible to know how each player was used in their respective team’s system. That is — and this probably goes without saying — no tow 34-defenses are alike. They are like snowflakes in this regard, I guess. Each has its own nuances, and each asks different things of its lineman. Some might value pushing the pocket, while others value tying up blockers. And so on.
Dorsey’s experience and ability immediately become clear here. A look only at “Stops” illustrates the extent to which Dorsey can dominate the run game. Just what are “Stops,” you ask? Well, as ProFootball Focus describes it, a stop is determined by:
[The] amount of times a defender has caused an offensive failure as a percentage of how many plays he is in on run defense, excluding plays nullified by penalty. An offensive failure (a “stop” from the defense’s perspective) is a play that is unable to obtain 40% of required yardage on first down, 60% of required yardage on second down, or the entire required yardage on third or fourth.
However, that Dorsey has more stops than Sopoaga is to be expected, given that the former has accured the most snaps. Stop % is a truer point of comparison, as it shows the number of stops relative to snaps played.
Aside from last season, which saw him placed on injured reserve for a lingering calf issue, Dorsey clearly bests Sopoaga. What’s interesting to note is just how well Sopoaga performed under Vic Fangio compared to his previous season. He went from averaging a Stop % of 5.03% per season to 7.45%. That’s a 48% increase.
Dorsey averages a Stop % of 8.24% per season for his career. If he enjoys the same boost in productivity as Sopoaga under Jim Tomsula and Fangio’s tutelage, then Dorsey’s Stop % would increase to 12.2% — which would have been the highest posted by any defensive tackle in the past five years. For a player that signed a two-year deal worth only $6 million with a $2.285M signing bonus, that’s a pretty good get for Trent Baalke.
Against the pass
Dorsey has more total pressures, but also has played quite few more snaps. As such, Pass Rush Productivity (PRP) is much a better determiner of success. PRP is essentially total pressures divided by snaps, but it provides a bit more “context” — as PFF says — by valuing hurries and hits at 75% of a full sack.
Dorsey is certainly capable of pressuring the quarterback, as his 2009 and 2010 stats illustrate, but he hasn’t been consistent. The same can be said about Sopoaga, to a degree. His productivity last season fell precipitously, which is unfortunate given that the 49ers were in desperate need of a difference maker when Justin Smith missed games with an injury. Still, Dorsey’s inability to rush the passer is not that great of a concern, as he probably won’t be asked to do it much.
Ultimately, like the trade for Eric Wright, Dorsey’s signing might be a stroke of genius — especially when we consider that Sopoaga signed a three-year deal worth $12 million, $5 million of which is guaranteed and Ricky Jean-Francois (Sopoaga’s back up) signed a four-year, $22 million deal with $8.5 million in guarantees. If Dorsey doesn’t pan out, then the 49ers are on the hook for very little. But if he does end up playing to his potential, then the 49ers will be paying one of the best defensive tackles in the league back-up money.