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Breaking Down a DT's Resurrection

Leading into our matchup against Billy and the Cheats, I wanted to carry over on the theme from last week’s article on injuries. It appears as though Micah Hyde will be patrolling the outfield, once again, which will surely give The Hoodie nightmares of stolen Christmas presents. But the bigger–both literally and figuratively–return will be that of DaQuan Jones. Coming off a 9-week stint, as he recovered from a torn pectoral muscle, the big 1-Tech will be a major addition to our playoff push. 


In light of DaQuan’s return, I want to dig into the numbers a bit; let’s look at the most recent five games Joseph played in, compared to the first five games that Jones suited up for. 


Linval Joseph: Stats for the last five games of 2023:



When considering Joseph’s stats, one might want to remove his first game, against The New Jersey Rogerlesses, since he was signed on November 2nd, off the couch. I’ll give him a pass for that “warm-up” game on November 19th. Since his second game, against Philly, Joseph has averaged the following, per game:


-0.25 sacks

-1.4 combined tackles

-1.0 solo tackles

-0.75 assists

-0.25 tackles for loss

-0.25 QB hits


With a 1-Tech DT, though, there are more significant metrics to consider: Namely rushing stats against. Since one of the main goals of a 1-Tech is to clog rushing lanes, in theory, they should be preventing successful rushing attempts.


Carries Yards YPC TD (rush)

12/23 - Chargers: 27 98 3.6 1

12/17 - Dallas: 20 89 4.5 1

12/19 - KC: 18 82 4.6 1

11/26 - Philly: 32 185 5.8 2

Averages: 24.25 113.5 4.625 1.25


A final metric I wanted to consider was average strength of run offense, against. Basically, we’ll take these four teams Joseph played (LA, Dallas, KC, and Philly), and average their overall NFL rank for rushing (as of 12/31/23). They are as follows:


Philly - 6

Dallas - 12

KC - 20 

LA - 24


Average strength of run offense Joseph played against: 15.5th best rushing offenses.


And on to Mr. Jones:


DaQuan Jones: Stats for the first five games of 2023:



We gave Joseph a mulligan for his first game, and considering that Jones went down fairly early in the Jags loss, I’ll toss that one out of the metrics. With that in mind, DaQuan Jones averaged the following, over his first four full games of 2023:


-0.625 sacks

-2.5 combined tackles

-1.5 solo tackles

-1.0 assist

-0.75 tackles for loss

-1.25 QB hits


And–like Joseph–let’s take a look at Jones’ first four full games, in terms of rushing stat against:


Carries Yards YPC TD (rush)

Jets: 28 172 6.1

Raiders: 15 55 3.7 0

Washington: 13 105 8.1 0

Miami: 19 142 7.5 2

Averages: 18.75 118.5 6.35 0.5

And for Jones, the four teams he played against (Miami, Washington, Las Vegas, and the JESTS), here is the average their overall NFL rank for rushing (as of 12/31/23):


Miami - 5

Washington - 22

NYJ - 28

LV - 31


Average strength of run offense Jones played against: 21.5th best rushing offenses.


Conclusions:


I merged all of this into a tidy spreadsheet for you:



A few numbers really jump off that comparison sheet: Jones has averaged 2.5x the sacks, 3x the tackles for loss, and 5x the number of QB hits. He was wreaking absolute havoc, for a true 1-Tech DT, prior to injury. I do think, though, that some of those numbers were skewed by the “Average Rush Offense, Against”. Jones was playing against teams well in the bottom half of the overall rushing leaders; this would point to them throwing more, which would invite greater opportunity for disturbing the quarterback (which the numbers bear out). Oddly, he did give up a better Yards per Carry, to significantly worse rushing offenses, but when it came to allowing rushing TD’s, when Jones was in, you had less than half as many.


Beyond that breakdown, I wanted to set some expectations for Jones’ return. Thinking back to last week’s article, we do have to manage our expectations of what Jones can provide for us. Now, he’s not coming off an ACL or anything that would hinder lower body strength, explosiveness, fluidity, etc… However, his upper body movement and strength will be limited, at first. If we can hope for a 75% of pre-injury Jones, though, we’ll be looking forward to the following stat line (Joseph’s stats left in, for reference):



Point being: Even a 75% DaQuan Jones is like adding a slightly better Linval Joseph into the defensive line mix. That, my fellow Bills fans, is nothing if not encouraging.


Go Bills!


-Tim Avery - 12/31/2023

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