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New York Giants’ Michael Boley was NFL’s Best Tackler in 2011

April 21st, 2012 at 6:13 AM
By Dan Benton

When the debate about the NFL's elite tacklers surfaces around the water cooler on Monday mornings, the names of Brian Urlacher, Von Miller, Ray Lewis and Patrick Willis are the most likely to be mentioned. And as talented as each of those players are, none of them was statistically considered the best tackler in pro football a year ago. In fact, that honor went to someone who is infrequently considered one of the NFL's best: New York Giants linebacker Michael Boley.

In an editorial that was recently published on Football Outsiders, Aaron Schatz ran down the statistical analysis of the premiere tacklers in the league during the 2011-2012 season. Sitting alone at the top was Boley, who collected 76 total tackles, allowing only one tackle to be broken all year (1.3%).

The 1.3% broken tackle rate by Boley led the league, with Indianapolis Colts linebacker Philip Wheeler and Denver Broncos safety Chris Harris tied at second with a rate of 1.6%.

"Michael Boley's one broken tackle in 2011 matches his one broken tackle in 2010. Yet you never really hear Boley's name mentioned when analysts talk about the best tacklers in football," Schatz wrote.

In addition to Boley, fellow linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka was near the top of the list at 2.9% (two broken tackles, 66 total tackles), as was cornerback Aaron Ross at 1.9% (one broken tackles, 51 total tackles). Ross, of course, is now with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

As a team, the Giants tied with the San Francisco 49ers for the league lead, allowing only 3.8% of their tackles to be broken. 40 players on Big Blue registered at least one tackle broken, which was second in the league to the 49ers (37 players). The Tampa Bay Buccaneers led the NFL allowing 9.0% of their tackles to be broken.

The Philadelphia Eagles were 31st in the NFL allowing 8.1% of their tackles to be broken, the Washington Redskins were 18th in the NFL allowing 5.3% of their tackles to be broken and the Dallas Cowboys were 12th in the NFL allowing 5.1% of their tackles to be broken.


Tags: Aaron Ross, Football, Mathias Kiwanuka, Michael Boley, New York, New York Giants, NFL

15 Responses to “New York Giants’ Michael Boley was NFL’s Best Tackler in 2011”

  1.  Krow says:

    But but but … he’s too small and gets run against easily. LOL… I’ve been a Boley fan since we signed him. Good to see him get a little recognition.

    •  fanfor55years says:

      I like Boley, a LOT, but one thing this stat doesn’t measure is the percentage of times he cannot get to a ball-carrier to tackle him because the Big Uglies have taken him out of the play. Boley is a terrific player who chases runs down from behind, covers well, is quick to the quarterback, has great recognition, understands the defense and helps younger players get themselves positioned. But he is weakest when a run is right at him. Not his fault. He just isn’t twenty pounds heavier. But the way things are going in the NFL most 4-3 linebackers are going to have to deal with the same issue because they’ll all have to be good in coverage.

      I’m really glad we have him, have said for years that our linebackers aren’t that bad, and now think we may have one of the better groups in the league. The addition of Rivers to what we already had and the presumed maturation and health of Herzlich gives our second line of defense a dynamic quality that they haven’t had in many years. If Fewell lines up Boley, Williams and Rivers together in some situations we will have what could well be the most athletic group of linebackers found anywhere. And if Osi stays, which would mean Kiwi remains mostly at SAM with about 25% of his snaps with his hand in the dirt, then you get to sprinkle in Herzlich and Blackburn and Paysinger (and Jones if he makes the team) in the mix with the “top 4″ guys and you have a great rotation.

      A few years ago I said that within a reasonable period of time ESPN would have to do a show about “The Surprising Giants’ Receivers” because no one was crediting them for what they were going to be. That did, in fact, happen. I’m now saying, with great confidence, that there will be surprise and consternation about the quality of the Giants’ defense, which is looking to me like it could be dominant if just a few things fall into place and they stay healthy. If Osi plays for us in 2012, if Marvin Austin isn’t so raw as to be useless, if Prince Amukamara takes the giant leap I expect, and if Tyler Sash is what the coaches indicated they expected him to be at the end of last season, this defense is going to be great.

  2.  kujo says:

    If you are interested in participating in the 3rd annual G101 Mock Off, put together a 4-round mock draft for the Giants picks and email it to me at mkier86 AT aol DOT com. Please include the players’ name, position and college. Remember to include our 4th round supplemental pick. And when you email me (or get me on Facebook), please include your G101 username.

    All submissions need to be sent to me by the morning of Thursday, April 26th so that we can post them on G101 prior to the start of the draft. I’ll post this message a few times a day for the next week, but please get your stuff in ASAP!

  3.  kujo says:

    Pat Traina’s 1st Round Pick:

    Projected Pick: DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus, 6-3, 261 lbs., Illinois
    Mercilus seems to be an under the radar type of guy from a smaller program, which has been a characteristic of some of their recent picks over the last few years (see Jason Pierre-Paul, and Jacquian Williams). In his last season, Mercilus posted 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles in an aggressive college scheme that scheme that is said to mirror the Giants’ aggressive pass rush approach. Statistics aside, Mercilus also seems to fit the Giants mold in that he has good size, is athletic, and can line up as an outside linebacker in certain packages, very similar to how the Giants use Kiwanuka. If drafted. Mercilus would likely be a situational pass rusher later in the year.

  4.  kujo says:

    Pat Traina’s 2nd Round Pick:

    Projected Pick: Mohamed Sanu, 6-2, 211 lbs., Rutgers
    In a perfect world, the Giants might have a chance at Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill, a 6-4, 215 lb. receiver who’s been projected to go in the first round. The reason why I don’t have receiver as the first round pick is that the Giants should be set with Nicks and Cruz, and I don’t think the Giants will draft a wide receiver in the first round, where Hill is projected to go. The 6-2, 211 lb. Sanu doesn’t seem to be a bad consolation pick if he falls to 32 when the Giants draft in round 2. The Big East record holder with 210 career receptions (115 receptions this past season) Sanu averaged 10.8 yards per reception during his career. Making him even more valuable to a prospective team is that he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. He has nice size and strength to fight off the jam, and runs well in the open field. He can also play the slot and is not afraid to block down field, which is often a skill many draft enthusiasts overlook when ranking a receiver. Might Sanu be gone by the time the Giants pick? Perhaps, especially if Greg Schiano, formerly the Rutgers head coach now the head coach in Tampa, looks to grab him. But if Sanu should fall down to the Giants here, I think the Giants would have to consider hiM.

  5.  GIANTT says:

    Coming back to Boley – I also Love Boley but I think this is one of those times where the stat by itself is suspect . If you look down the list of total tackles for a LB , First was London Fletcher and Boley comes in at 35 on the list . I know someone out there is going to scream , different scheme or something . Its nice to know that he doesnt miss his tackles etc etc but Im not sure what the relevancy is .
    Kujo , I can see it now – Mercilus was absolutely mercilous on that play , yikes makes me wanna get upset

  6.  fanfor55years says:

    Mercilus followed by Sanu would be a pretty good first two picks. I’ve said that I’m expecting a pass rusher (of them I like Mercilus right up there with the best of them), a wide receiver (Hill, please), an offensive lineman, Fleener or Jenkins as our first pick.

    What I really like about Traina’s prediction is that she has us taking a pass rusher and wide receiver with the first two picks. Next would be a running back or O-lineman (hopefully, earlier than #95 since Reese would have traded up into the #75 slot or earlier) and we’re all set. We should come out of the draft and the week after it with a pass rusher, a wide receiver, a tight end, a running back, an offensive lineman and a safety. And, of course, if a talent like Jenkins were to fall to #32 and the Giants have done enough homework to think he isn’t a lunkhead and is maturing, they’d take him and worry about more pressing needs later.

    •  kujo says:

      What is the story on Sanu? I’ve seen his named linked to us a bunch, but I don’t know who or what he is.

      •  fanfor55years says:

        Solid receiver although not a game-breaker. Has size and strength. He can go get the ball in the air and makes catches with defenders making contact with him. He’s not the field-stretcher that Manningham was but he would be a very reliable #3 receiver and a steady player. Far and away the best player on the field for Rutgers and did well against some pretty good college defenses.

        He has some similarities to Nicks but doesn’t have Nicks’ game speed and burst. He’d be very good on the Giants. He’d be a very solid draft pick. Not “exciting” but almost definitely productive for a long time. Let’s put it this way: he’d be better than Steve Smith and would have more YPC than Smith ever did.

    •  kujo says:

      And yeah…..Hill is the guy I want at #32….don’t think he’ll be there, but he’d be the guy I want there….

  7.  G-MenFan says:

    The only thing I’ll say in defense of Boley to all of the “yeah, but” people is this: please check out the Giants overall record and defensive stats for the stretch of games Michael Boley was not on the field.

    I hope you already ate.

    •  fanfor55years says:

      I’m not “yeah, butting” about Boley. I think he is a key to our defense and was a great signing by Reese (as was Canty and Rolle, two others that many have “buts” about but I think are tremendous players).

      I’m just pointing out that he has weaknesses in run defense because of his size. That can be overcome by scheme and the abilities of our front line and safeties. But a stat that only shows how effective he is when he GETS to the runner doesn’t fully reflect his ability as a run defender. It simply shows that he is a great tackler (a lost art in the NFL and one that Boley should be proud of). Just as an example, Kiwi’s percentage of missed tackles, while very low, is higher than Boley’s. Who is the better run-stopper? It isn’t even close.

      None of the above is intended to diminish Boley’s value. I love the guy. And he does a lot more than just defending the run. Every other element of his game is outstanding. He’s good against the run, not great, especially when the play is right at him.

    •  GIANTT says:

      Actually , just sat down to eat LOL .Look , Im not saying he was or was not a valuable player for the Giants but sometimes I get totally sick of stats as an end rather than as a means to an end .

  8.  Krow says:

    Alfonzo Dennard arrested … assaulting a police officer.

    Should end up being a couple million dollar fine.

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