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Justin Tuck Quietly Among NFL’s Best DE in 2013


Some in the media and (what seems like) many Giants fans view Justin Tuck as a shell of himself and consider him to be a non-factor at this point in his career. With his contract expiring at season's end, it is certainly possible that Tuck is beginning his final eight games as a Giant. However, it would be a mistake to bunch him in with other important veterans of past years (Snee, Diehl, Webster, Kiwanuka) who have failed to give the Giants much of anything in 2013 and for all intents are LOCKS to be on their way out in 2014. 

In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, Tuck has been one of the league's best 4-3 defensive ends in 2013 by nearly every metric that they use to evaluate defensive ends. In addition (while it is comparing apples to oranges) Tuck has totaled a cumulative grade of 9.6 on the season across 408 snaps which is good for best on the Giants. While Mike Patterson (2nd highest grade on NYG) has also totaled an impressive 9.1 cumulative grade he has done it across only 231 snaps. 

Tuck currently has 30 quarterback pressures (combined total of sacks, hits and hurries) which is good for 14th at his position (4-3 defensive end). Not a bad total. 20 of those pressures have come over the last four games. Not coincidentally, Tuck's combined "pass rush" grade over that span is an even 3.0. This number is a massive improvement from the -3.5 that he tallied in Weeks 1 through 4. In addition, he grades out with a Pass Rush Productivity (PRP) grade of 9.4, good for 12th amongst 4-3 ends.

PRP is one of Pro Football Focus's "signature stats' and it is a good metric of a pass rusher. The formula is: [Sacks+ (0.75xHits) + (0.75xHurries)/Pass Rush Snaps]. It is their way of evenly balancing sacks with hits and hurries.This may fall on deaf ears for those fans who consider sacks the end all be all for defensive linemen and that is fine. But those in that camp are missing what has become a very strong all-around season for the defensive end. For further proof, Tuck is one of three 4-3 DEs currently in PFF's overall positional top 10  with a sack total of three or less (Michael Johnson-CIN, and Brian Robison-MIN being the other two). 

Against the run? Tuck has stood out this season and ranks among the league's best few 4-3 ends against the run. While his 13 run stops (PFFs way of labeling a tackle for a loss) place him 6th among 4-3 ends, they have come on just 128 run snaps. This leaves him with a run stop rate of 10.3%, good for 2nd amongst all 4-3 ends and 6th amongst ALL defensive ends. In eight games, Tuck has received only two negative run stop grades (Week 1: -0.1, Week 6: -0.6) and has accumulated a run stop grade of 9.4, good for best on the team. The output has led the way for a Giants run defense that has totaled a collective grade of  30.4, placing them third in the league behind the Jets and Chiefs.

The purpose of presenting such a heavy amount of data in this post is to stress that it's important Giants fans understand that Justin Tuck has not been a part of the problem in 2013, even as he continues to carry an unusually low sack total. At the right price, it would be prudent for the Giants to bring back the veteran in 2014 for not only his presence in the organization but simply for his excellent productivity in 2013. 


(As always a big thanks to PFF for allowing us to share some of their premium stats. This information/data re:Tuck is a perfect example of the type of analysis that PFF conducts that doesn't show up in traditional NFL stats or analysis. Their premium stats service is vital to anyone who has $26.99 to spare AND considers themselves to be a serious NFL fan.)