The common refrain from Jaguars fans when discussing the "do or die" Colts rematch is that "the Jaguars could've stopped the run if Courtney Greene wasn't hurt." Obviously, one player does not make a defense on his own, but we've seen teams' defense be heavily influenced by the loss of one player before (see Sanders, Bob or Polamalu, Troy), albeit usually by much better players than Greene. Still, I wanted to see if Courtney Greene was the key to the Jaguars' run defense in 2010. I am doing the research for this post as I'm typing it to try to eliminate bias from seeing the results beforehand. Going into my study, I thought that the Jaguars' run defense was better when Greene was in the starting lineup than it was when he did not play or barely played. Read on to find out what really happened:
As you can see, Greene was not the starter or was inactive against Denver, Indianapolis both games, Buffalo, and Oakland. Greene started all 11 other games. However, he was injured on the fifth play from scrimmage in the second Tennessee game, so I will be counting that as a game in which Greene did not play for the purposes of this study. The first thing to do is to look at the Jaguars' defensive statistics.
According to NFL.com, in 2011 the Jaguars' defense faced 416 rushing attempts. They gave up 1945 yards, a clip of 4.7 yards per rush, 19 TD, and 14 20+ yard rushes allowed. This equates to a per-game average of:
26.0 rushes, 121.6 yards, 4.7 yards per rush, 1.2 TD, 0.9 20+ yard rushes
With 1st being the best and 32nd being the worst, they ranked tied for 19th in rushing attempts faced, 22nd in rushing yards against, tied for 2nd in rushing yards per carry against, and tied for 29th in rushing TD allowed. They were also 22nd in 20+ yard rushes allowed. With that as a starting point, let's look at the games Greene missed:
Denver - 25 rushes, 89 yards, 3.6 yards per rush, 1 TD, 0 20+ yard rushes
Indianapolis - 19 rushes, 58 yards, 3.1 yards per rush, 2 TD, 0 20+ yard rushes
@Buffalo - 21 carries, 110 yards, 5.2 yards per rush, 0 TD, 1 20+ yard rush
@Tennessee - 14 carries, 57 yards, 4.1 yards per carry, 0 TD, 1 20+ yard rush. Greene was injured on the fifth play from scrimmage; without Greene, the Jaguars allowed 12 carries, 53 yards, 4.4 yards per rush, 0 TD, 1 20+ yard rush
Oakland - 25 carries, 153 yards, 6.1 yards per rush, 2 TD, 2 20+ yard rushes
@Indianapolis - 24 carries, 155 yards, 6.5 yards per rush, 1 TD, 2 20+ yard rushes
Overall, without Courtney Greene starting, the Jaguars gave up the following:
126 rushes, 620 yards, 4.9 yards per rush, 6 TD, 6 20+ yard rushes. Given that Greene was not the starter for five games and missed the vast majority of a sixth, in six games this equates to a per-game average of:
21.0 rushes, 103.3 yards, 4.9 yards per rush, 1.0 TD, 1.0 20+ yard rush
In the games where Greene was the starter (minus the Tennessee game, as previously stated), the Jaguars' run defense allowed the following:
TOTAL: 290 rushes, 1325 yards, 4.6 yards per rush, 13 TD, 8 20+ yard rushes
PER-GAME AVERAGE: 29.0 rushes, 132.5 yards, 4.6 yards per rush, 1.3 TD, 0.8 20+ yard rushes
According to the stats, with Greene as a starting safety the Jaguars faced eight more rushes per game and allowed an additional 29.2 yards rushing per game. These additional carries were at a clip of 3.7 yards per game, which is what lowered the Jaguars' overall yards per carry allowed to 4.6 with Greene in the game. As compared to their season stats:
With Greene: +3.0 rushes, +10.9 yards, -0.1 yards per rush, +0.1 TD, -0.1 20+ yard rushes
Without Greene: -5.0 rushes, -18.3 yards, +0.3 yards per rush, -0.2 TD, +0.1 20+ yard rushes
The end result: With Courtney Greene in the lineup, the Jaguars faced a decent amount more rushes and their run defense slightly improved as a unit. They gave up slightly more TD with Greene in the lineup but gave up slightly less 20+ yard rushes. Even if you want to look at the second half of the season more closely than the first due to Greene's growth as a starter, the Jaguars still got destroyed on the ground by Houston, which kind of negates that point. Overall, this study concludes that although Courtney Greene seems like a solid young player with good upside, whether or not he was in the lineup did not have a significant impact on the performance on the Jaguars' run defense.
What say you, Big Cat Country?