The most astonishing stat for Hatcher in 2012 is that, had he played four more snaps, it would have been at least twice as many as every other defensive lineman on the team. Actually, Hatcher played nearly twice as many snaps as he did in 2011, so it’s not really surprising that he posted a career-high in tackles (51). While Hatcher’s total tackles seem to indicate improved play, his 6.5 percent tackle rate is actually the exact same as it was in 2011.
We see the same discrepancy when we look at Hatcher’s pass-rushing stats, too. Although he totaled only four sacks this year, down from 4.5 in 2011, Hatcher actually pressured the quarterback 29 times—over twice as many as any other season in his career. Hatcher did indeed reach the quarterback at a higher rate than in 2011, but not as much as the bulk pressure totals indicate. Hatcher’s 2012 pressure rate of 6.4 percent isn’t significantly higher than the 5.2 percent rate he recorded in 2011.
Allowing five sacks obviously isn’t good, but Livings also got a bit unlucky. The left guard allowed pressure on Tony Romo on just 1.9 percent of his snaps in pass protection, yet Romo went down 26.3 percent of the time Livings allowed his man to get through. In comparison, Bernadeau allowed pressure at nearly twice the rate of Livings—3.2 percent—yet Romo got sacked on only 20.0 percent of those pressures.
In this way, you can see why pressures are not only a better indicator of pass protection than sacks, but also a superior predictor of future protection. If we were to bet on who would allow the lowest number of sacks in 2013, it would be foolish to choose Bernadeau over Livings, even though the two were just one sack apart this year.
Livings also outperformed Bernadeau in the running game. As I mentioned last week, I track three players as blocking at the point-of-attack on each running play, and the Cowboys totaled only 3.18 YPC with Bernadeau at the point in 2012. That’s bad. With Livings blocking at the point, however, the ‘Boys were a lot better, averaging 3.92 YPC.