Greg White Is Better Than You Think

Published: May 31st, 2010

White is lowered onto Kellen Clemens, Mission Impossible style.

Despite the fact that his columns have been online for years now, it seems that Roy Cummings has just discovered the internet and finally stumbled across Pro Football Focus. If he ever puts that stuff together with Football Outsiders, he’s gonna be dangerous. For his first foray into this exciting new world, he concentrates on Greg White and how he is actually doing a lot more than his sack totals might indicate.

The brains at PFF, a website devoted to in-depth statistical analysis, have come up with a mathematical formula that determines the league’s best pass rushers.

And according to their formula, White is one of them.

He was a year ago, at least, when he ranked sixth among NFL defensive ends (ahead of Julius Peppers and Jared Allen) in what calls its Pass Rushing Productivity Rating.

He then goes on to tell us what that means.

What aided White is the fact that PFF looks at more than just sacks. Though it does so at a fraction of the value given to a sack, it also takes into account quarterback hits and pressures in accumulating its Pass Rushing Points total.

That total is then divided by the total number of regular defensive plays the player participated in during the regular season and is finally multiplied by 100 to get the Pass Rushing Productivity Rating.

In doing this, PFF builds its statistics from the ground up. It might as well since it has to watch every play anyway. But you’ll notice discrepancies between what PFF has and what the NFL lists as their official statistics. For example, the NFL gave White 6.5 sacks last year. PFF gave White 8. So if you’re going to give their work any kind of credibility, you have to assume that they know how to grade the technical aspects of a game better than the NFL does. If you buy that, though, you have to give White his due for being a complete defensive end and not just a pass rusher.

Maybe Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik knew this when they didn’t spend a draft pick on a defensive end until the seventh round. One thing Cummings doesn’t mention is that this is a contract year for White, which should be yet another motivating factor to get him to perform at a high level. This is something Steve White (no relation) brings up to Greg in his interview on Steve’s blog.

With the Bucs opting not to resign him at this point I asked him about the pressure of playing for a new contract and if Tampa was going to be his first choice if he ends up hitting free agency at the end of the season. His answers were in my opinion exactly what most fans would want to hear from one of their favorite players.

“At this point I think I have a lot of pressure on myself but this is what I’m doing. All I’m going to try to do is control what I can control. Being in shape, like I said I think I’m pretty good skillfully. Being quicker, honing my skills more.”

“Its pressure but its football. I’d rather have it. I’d rather have it where the game is on the line it be on me.”

As for resigning with Tampa being a priority he told me, “There’s no question about that. This is where I want to be. Is this where I want my career to end? Yes. No question about that. Definitely. But again I can’t worry about things I can’t control. I’ll just try to put myself in the best situation I can. And if its not here it will be unfortunate but it won’t be here. I understand that its a business.”

The whole interview is really very good. It’s a long read but worth it.

The truth is that White has been the most consistent defensive end the Bucs have had in quite a while. He’s not a sack machine like Simeon Rice was back in the day, but he’s well-rounded, gets lots of pressure, and still has several good year in front of him. But I’m still not calling him Stylez. It’s just awful and it wasn’t even for a good reason. If he wanted to change his name, it should have been to something cool like Carlos Spicyweiner.