Exploring FTN Data: Brick Wall Rate

FTN's Brett Whitefield uses FTN Data to introduce brick wall rate.

Jul 06, 2021, 2:30 PM EDT

Brick wall rate: The percentage of short yardage runs that don’t result in a first down or touchdown.

With the launch of FTN Data’s new site we thought it was important to spotlight some of our new Insider Stats that will be commonly seen and talked about at both FTN Fantasy and FTN Data. Here we take a look at brick wall rate. Brick wall rate can be a valuable tool to help quantify a defense's ability to stop an offense from converting in short yardage situations. While there will likely be some correlations with defense’s that are generally good against the run, identifying outliers can also be valuable for a number of reasons. Let's take a quick look at the top five defenses from 2020 in brick wall rate. 

  1. New Orleans Saints (38.7%): The Saints have been working with a pretty good unit on the defensive line for some time so it is no surprise to see them rank highly here.
  2. Philadelphia Eagles (38.6%): The Eagles have been one of the best run-stopping teams in the NFL over the past five years. 2020 was no different, and their performance in short-yardage situations helps tell the story.
  3. Tennessee Titans (38.0%): Despite not having a very good run defense in 2020, the Titans’ short-yardage unit performed reasonably well situationally.
  4. Houston Texans (36.5%): Our first major outlier here. The Texans had easily the worst run defense of 2020, ranking dead last in legitimately every major run-defense statistic. The sheer volume of plays run inside their own 5-yard line likely helps them prop their brick wall rate up a bit.
  5. Arizona Cardinals (35.4%): While the Cardinals’ overall performance against the run was nothing to write home about in 2020, they excelled in short-yardage situations, which in turn led to allowing a league-low six rushing touchdowns from inside their own 5-yard line.

Follow along the whole Exploring FTN DATA series here