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New England Patriots Were the Best Tacklers in the NFL

No team tackled better than the New England Patriots

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, did you know that this is a football website, and not actually a blog for science or law? So let's talk football.

Football Outsiders ran through their data to determine which players were the best tacklers in the NFL. When technique is the most important cornerstone for any player in a Bill Belichick defense, you would expect the Patriots to fare pretty well.

Of the linebackers (min. 40 tackles), Jerod Mayo and Dont'a Hightower finish in the top six in tackle rate, with one and two broken tackles respectively. The Patriots linebackers missed 11 total tackles, second best in the league, which means that Jamie Collins likely made up the majority of the eight other broken tackles. Hopefully Collins will continue to improve in his third season in the league.

In the secondary, Darrelle Revis and Devin McCourty both finished in the top 10. Revis missed one tackle, while McCourty missed three. The Patriots defensive backs combined for 23 missed tackles, which was the best in the entire league.

On the defensive line, the Patriots weren't as productive. The seven broken tackles against Rob Ninkovich was the second most in the whole league, while Vince Wilfork tied for 13th worst with four broken tackles. Of course Ninkovich's numbers are skewed, and his rate isn't that bad, because he played roughly a billion snaps in 2014. But it shows some justification for the heavy investment in the defensive line this off-season.

In sum, the Patriots defense featured a broken tackle on just 4.8% of plays, best in the league, and the only team under 5%. To show the strength of the Patriots linebackers and secondary, when there was a broken tackle on a run play, New England still allowed a league best 6.7 yards per carry, the only team below 9.3 yards per carry.

Against the pass, however, a broken tackle in the secondary led to a monstrous gain due to the heavy man-coverage, and the Patriots ranked 29th in allowing 19.4 yards per reception on plays with a broken tackle.

What's fun is that Football Outsiders ran the same numbers on offense and the Patriots ranked #1 in yards gained on offense on plays featuring a broken tackle, highlighted by a #1 ranking on passing plays with a broken tackle. Stevan Ridley and Jonas Gray both ranked in the bottom four in rate of plays with a broken tackle, while Rob Gronkowski ranked #1 out of wide receivers and tight ends.

So the Patriots team is built on quality tackling on defense, and superior production when breaking tackles on offense. Sounds like a pretty good scheme for the franchise.