How does Dee Ford's rookie year compare to Justin Houston?

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

From the FanPosts -Joel

Things have changed dramatically for the Chiefs since free agency began. Personnel changes have been pleasantly surprising. One group that hasn’t changed much is the outside linebackers.

With Tamba Hali’s restructure and the franchise tag in place for Justin Houston, the core group is still there. The "Nascar" or "Pup" front should be more productive and Houston will likely be still be playing for a new contract. On the other hand, if Houston chooses to miss games in 2015, the pass rush will have a very different look. Dee Ford will likely have a bigger role in either case.

Ford didn’t have a high-impact rookie season. Folks are still talking about him ‘running away’ from Frank Gore. While a poor play, that one doesn’t worry me too much. Ford has some growing to do, but nothing unexpected for a DE moving to OLB.

So what do the Chiefs have in Dee Ford?

I came across what I think are some important indicators for Ford while researching another story. Ford can definitely rush the passer even though he still needs a lot of work dropping into space. But, just how well can he pass rush? What's the best way to estimate his effectiveness over the long-term and barring injury?

Ford's pass rush snaps were an admittedly small sample size in 2014. He only had 85 pass rush snaps in his rookie season. In order to get a better picture, we need more than just the number of sacks from 2014.

I use PFF for raw numbers, but I don’t buy into a lot of their calculated "signature stats". I want to know; yes or no, if a pass rusher beat his blocker(s) and had an effect on the quarterback. Sacks are great, but I don’t consider a hit on a QB as only 0.75 the value of a sack. The split-second difference between a hit and sack can often be just as dependent on the coverage as it is on the rusher. From that point of view, if a pass rusher ‘hurries’ the QB into an incompletion or a checkdown, that’s a success in applying pressure in my book. It’s especially true of young players.

So, here’s how I looked at pass rushing: "Pressure Production". It is the total successful pressures in given opportunities pass rushing. To have to get a valid comparison, I went back to Houston’s rookie season (2011), when he only had 193 pass rush snaps. That is a little more than double the chances Ford had in 2014.


For a rookie season, Ford played well when rushing the passer and at an impressive rate when compared to Houston's rookie year. On 100 fewer pass rushes, Ford was able to slightly out-produce Justin Houston’s rookie year in overall "Pressure Production". With more snaps and experience, the upside looks to be on par with Houston’s.

If Houston were to choose to hold out, Ford's snaps and experience would sharply increase and that would put him in position to make significant strides in his game in 2015.

Thanks for reading.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.