Terrell Suggs Was The NFL's Best "Playmaking" Linebacker

PITTSBURGH PA - JANUARY 15: Linebacker Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens reacts after sacking quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Heinz Field on January 15 2011 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Our good friends at Advanced NFL Stats developed a statistic a few years back called "+WPA" (as well as "+EPA). The main purpose of both of these stats is to determine a player's individual "playmaking" ability. How do they do this you ask?

All we need to do is add up all the WPA (or EPA) for each play in which the WPA (or EPA) was positive. "+WPA" and "+EPA" add up the value of every sack, interception, pass defense, forced fumble or recovery, and every tackle or assist that results in a setback for the offense.

For those of you are new to advanced statistics, WPA and EPA are stats that determine the contribution to the team's Win Probabiltiy added at the start of a play and the Win Probability at the end of the play, and the difference between the Expected Points at the start of a play and the Expected Points at the end of a play, respectively.

For a more in-depth explanation of WPA and EPA click on the hyperlinks of each.

In order to prevent droning on and on in this article, trying to incorporate a myriad of different in-depth articles, I will try to explain these stats in a "nutshell". Both of these statistics attempt to measure a player's play-making ability by plays the player was directly involved in that either positively or negatively affected the outcome of a game. In a sense they are roughly similar to Baseball's "Wins Above Replacement Player" stat.

(Continue reading after "The Jump"...)

In 2011 Terrell Suggs led the NFL in "+WPA","+EPA" and "+EPA/G (Postive Expected Points Added per Game)". The top-five in each statistic are as follows:

Keep in mind that all of the following statistics are property of Advanced NFL Stats.com, and I have E-mailed their founder, Brian Burke, asking for permission to use these in future posts.

2011 Leaders in "+WPA"
Terrell Suggs 2.42
D'Qwell Jackson 2.14
Sean Lee 1.98
Von Miller 1.92
Nick Barnett 1.85

2011 Leaders in "+EPA"
Terrell Suggs 82.2
Pat Angerer 58.6
London Fletcher 58.6
D'Qwell Jackson 58.5
Stephen Tulloch 58.4

2011 Leaders in "+EPA/G"
Terrell Suggs 5.14
Ray Lewis 4.40
Patrick Willis 4.08
Pat Angerer 3.91
Sean Lee 3.90

As you can see from the table above, Terrell Suggs all NFL linebackers in all of the significant "playmaker" statistics. Thus making him the biggest playmaking linebacker in the NFL.

While we originally thought that losing Terrell Suggs would be a big blow to the team, these statistics outline just how big of a contributor to the team he was and what production we can expect to lose in 2012 (barring brilliant performances from Courtney Upshaw/Paul Kruger). I hate to be a pessimist, but I think we will be hard-pressed to replace a playmaker of Terrell Suggs' caliber.

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