≡ Menu

Justin Houston had 22 sacks last year for the Chiefs, just one sack shy of breaking the modern NFL record. Houston did it while playing a full slate of games for the Chiefs, and Kansas City faced 591 pass attempts last year (including sacks). That means Houston recorded a sack on 3.7% of Kansas City’s opponent dropbacks.

That’s very good, although it’s just the 11th best rate since 1982. But we have to remember that sack rates have been steadily declining over the past few decades. For example, from 1982 to 2014, the average sack rate was 6.87%, but the 2014 rate was just 6.35%. In other words, we would need to increase the sack rate last year by 8.2% in order to adjust for era. So if we adjust for Houston’s 3.7% average by multiplying that average by 108.2%, his adjusted sack rate jumps to 4.03%. And that’s the second best rate since 1982.

Here’s how to read the full table. The top rate belongs to DeMarcus Ware, set when he was playing right outside linebacker for the Cowboys in 2008. That year, Ware played in 16 games, as did the Cowboys.1 Ware had 20 sacks that year and the Cowboys faced 567 opponent dropbacks. That means Ware sacked the opponent on 3.5% of pass plays. The league rate in 2008 was 5.9%, which means we need to adjust Ware’s average by 16.4%; that gives Ware an adjusted rate of 4.11%, the best since 1982.

RkNameTmYearPosGTm GSacksTm Opp DBSk/Tm AttLg Sk RtRatioRate
1DeMarcus WareDAL2008ROLB1616205673.5%5.9%116.4%4.11%
2Justin HoustonKAN2014LOLB1616225913.7%6.3%108.2%4.03%
3Jared AllenMIN2011RDE1616225883.7%6.4%107.5%4.02%
4Jared AllenKAN2007RDE141615.54993.5%6.1%113.1%4.01%
5Michael StrahanNYG2001LDE161622.55674%6.9%99.8%3.96%
6Shawne MerrimanSDG2006LOLB/rolb1216175993.8%6.6%103.5%3.92%
7Reggie WhitePHI1987LDE1215216184.2%7.6%90.6%3.85%
8Tim HarrisGNB1989ROLB161619.55103.8%7.2%96%3.67%
9J.J. WattHOU2012LDE161620.56253.3%6.2%111.4%3.65%
10Michael StrahanNYG2003LDE161618.55643.3%6.2%110.6%3.63%
11Chris DolemanMIN1989RDE1616215593.8%7.2%96%3.61%
12Aldon SmithSFO2012ROLB161619.56053.2%6.2%111.4%3.59%
13Bruce SmithBUF1990RDE1616194983.8%7.3%93.8%3.58%
14DeMarcus WareDAL2011ROLB161619.55873.3%6.4%107.5%3.57%
15Jason TaylorMIA2002RDE161618.55673.3%6.4%107.9%3.52%
16Elvis DumervilDEN2009ROLB1616175493.1%6.1%113.1%3.5%
17Derrick ThomasKAN1990ROLB1516205723.7%7.3%93.8%3.5%
18Robert MathisIND2013ROLB161619.55783.4%6.7%103%3.48%
19Joey PorterMIA2008ROLB161617.55913%5.9%116.4%3.45%
20Robert QuinnSTL2013RDE1616195743.3%6.7%103%3.41%
21Jason BabinPHI2011LDE1616185683.2%6.4%107.5%3.41%
22James HarrisonPIT2008ROLB1516165842.9%5.9%116.4%3.4%
23J.J. WattHOU2014LDE161620.56573.1%6.3%108.2%3.37%
24Von MillerDEN2012LILB161618.56113%6.2%111.4%3.37%
25Lawrence TaylorNYG1988ROLB121615.56183.3%6.8%100.6%3.36%
26Bryce PaupBUF1995LOLB151617.56313%6.1%113.4%3.36%
27Leonard LittleSTL2003LDE121612.55523%6.2%110.6%3.34%
28John AbrahamATL2008RDE161616.55832.8%5.9%116.4%3.29%
29Pat SwillingNOR1991ROLB1616175413.1%6.6%103.4%3.25%
30Simeon RiceTAM2003RDE1616155112.9%6.2%110.6%3.25%
31Mark GastineauNYJ1984LDE1616225554%8.4%81.8%3.24%
32Mark GastineauNYJ1983LDE1616195113.7%8%86.3%3.21%
33Derrick BurgessOAK2005RDE1616165223.1%6.7%102.5%3.14%
34Clay MatthewsGNB2012ROLB1216136152.8%6.2%111.4%3.14%
35Doug MartinMIN1982LDE9911.53223.6%7.8%87.8%3.14%
36Simeon RiceARI1999RDE161616.55263.1%6.9%99%3.11%
37Keith MillardMIN1989RDT1616185593.2%7.2%96%3.09%
38William FullerPHI1995LDE1416135472.7%6.1%113.4%3.08%
39Leonard LittleSTL2001lde131614.55863%6.9%99.8%3.04%
40Simeon RiceTAM2002RDE161615.55532.8%6.4%107.9%3.02%
41Ken HarveyWAS1994LLB161613.55242.6%5.9%117.2%3.02%
42DeMarcus WareDAL2010ROLB161615.55752.7%6.1%111.8%3.01%
43Julius PeppersCAR2002LDE1216125742.8%6.4%107.9%3.01%
44Cornelius BennettBUF1987LOLB8158.54813.3%7.6%90.6%3%
45La'Roi GloverNOR2000RDT1616175543.1%7%97.8%3%
46Simeon RiceTAM2005RDE1516145122.9%6.7%102.5%2.99%
47Bruce SmithBUF1988RDE1216114943%6.8%100.6%2.99%
48Reggie WhitePHI1991LDE1616155222.9%6.6%103.4%2.97%
49Jared AllenMIN2008RDE161614.55752.5%5.9%116.4%2.94%
50Leslie O'NealSDG1992RDE1516175423.3%7.8%87.6%2.93%
51Dennis HarrisonPHI1982LDE9910.53153.3%7.8%87.8%2.93%
52Reggie WhitePHI1988LDE1616186202.9%6.8%100.6%2.92%
53Clyde SimmonsPHI1992RDE1616195723.3%7.8%87.6%2.91%
54Adewale OgunleyeMIA2003LDE1616155732.6%6.2%110.6%2.89%
55Cameron WakeMIA2010ROLB1616145412.6%6.1%111.8%2.89%
56Elvis DumervilDEN2007RDE161612.54912.5%6.1%113.1%2.88%
57Aaron KampmanGNB2006LDE161615.55612.8%6.6%103.5%2.86%
58Elvis DumervilBAL2014LOLB1616176442.6%6.3%108.2%2.86%
59Lawrence TaylorNYG1986ROLB161620.56463.2%7.6%89.8%2.85%
60Julius PeppersCAR2008RDE161614.55942.4%5.9%116.4%2.84%
61Neil SmithKAN1994LDE141611.55432.4%5.9%117.2%2.84%
62Jason TaylorMIA2007RDE1616114392.5%6.1%113.1%2.83%
63Dexter ManleyWAS1986RDE161618.55873.2%7.6%89.8%2.83%
64Dwight FreeneyIND2009RDE141613.56172.5%6.1%113.1%2.83%
65Bruce SmithBUF1987RDE1215124813.1%7.6%90.6%2.83%
66Kevin GreeneCAR1998LOLB1516155383%7.2%95%2.82%
67Richard DentCHI1984RDE161617.55073.5%8.4%81.8%2.82%
68Shaun EllisNYJ2003LDE161612.54902.6%6.2%110.6%2.82%
69Renaldo TurnbullNOR1993ROLB1516134952.8%6.8%100.7%2.82%
70Mario WilliamsHOU2008RDE1616124962.4%5.9%116.4%2.82%
71Jared AllenMIN2009RDE161614.55832.5%6.1%113.1%2.81%
72Eric HicksKAN2000LDE1316146002.9%7%97.8%2.81%
73Clay MatthewsGNB2010LOLB151613.55742.5%6.1%111.8%2.8%
74Hugh DouglasNYJ1996RDE101684842.6%6.5%106%2.8%
75Kevin GreenePIT1994LOLB1616145872.4%5.9%117.2%2.8%
76Robert MathisIND2008LDE151611.55112.4%5.9%116.4%2.79%
77Trace ArmstrongMIA2000lde161616.55782.9%7%97.8%2.79%
78Jason Pierre-PaulNYG2011RDE161616.56372.6%6.4%107.5%2.78%
79Dwight FreeneyIND2002RDE1616135042.6%6.4%107.9%2.78%
80Keith WillisPIT1983lde1416144973.2%8%86.3%2.78%
81Leonard LittleSTL2006LDE1616134852.7%6.6%103.5%2.78%
82Greg EllisDAL2007LOLB131612.56272.5%6.1%113.1%2.77%
83Reggie WhitePHI1986RDT/lde1616185853.1%7.6%89.8%2.76%
84Mario WilliamsHOU2007RDE1616145772.4%6.1%113.1%2.74%
85Lawrence TaylorNYG1989ROLB1616155252.9%7.2%96%2.74%
86LaMarr WoodleyPIT2011LOLB101695652.5%6.4%107.5%2.74%
87Simon FletcherDEN1992ROLB1616165123.1%7.8%87.6%2.74%
88Derrick ThomasKAN1991ROLB161613.55102.6%6.6%103.4%2.74%
89Dwight FreeneyIND2003RDE1516114762.5%6.2%110.6%2.73%
90Osi UmenyioraNYG2011rde91696372.5%6.4%107.5%2.7%
91Mike RuckerCAR2003RDE1416125622.4%6.2%110.6%2.7%
92Neil SmithKAN1993LDE1616155602.7%6.8%100.7%2.7%
93Tim HarrisGNB1988ROLB161613.55042.7%6.8%100.6%2.7%
94Bertrand BerryARI2004RDE161614.55432.7%6.8%100.8%2.69%
95William FullerHOU1991LDE1616155772.6%6.6%103.4%2.69%
96Dwight FreeneyIND2004RDE1616166022.7%6.8%100.8%2.68%
97Patrick KerneySEA2007LDE161614.56132.4%6.1%113.1%2.67%
98Chris LongSTL2011LDE1616135232.5%6.4%107.5%2.67%
99Tamba HaliKAN2011ROLB1616124832.5%6.4%107.5%2.67%
100Charlie ClemonsNOR2001MLB161613.55052.7%6.9%99.8%2.67%
  1. For players who did not play a full slate of games, I have pro-rated their team’s number of pass attempts to adjust for the missed time. []