B.J. Raji

A season after we were all doing The Raji, Green Bay Packers defensive lineman B.J. Raji pretty much stunk up the joint in 2011.

There were a number of reasons why Raji’s play dropped off in 2011. He played considerably more snaps in 2011 than he did in 2010, which wore him down. He missed Cullen Jenkins‘ presence on the defensive line. The veteran, who signed with Philadelphia as a free agent, took pressure and blockers off Raji in 2010. His replacements — Mike Neal and Howard Green, among others — didn’t.

Ironically, Raji made his first Pro Bowl despite his poor play. If you take a look at the stats, you’ll see Raji’s impact was minimal at best and non-existent at worst.

Pro Football Focus ranked Raji 46th out of 46 defensive tackles in run stop percentage in 2011. Here’s an explanation.

It’s done by determining the amount of times a defender has caused an offensive failure as a percentage of how many plays he is in on run defense, excluding plays nullified by penalty. An offensive failure (a “stop” from the defense’s perspective) is a play that is unable to obtain 40% of required yardage on first down, 60% of required yardage on second down, or the entire required yardage on third or fourth.

Raji stopped opposing ball carriers only 2.4 percent of the time. Denver’s Brodrick Bunkley ranked first in the category, stopping opponents 11.3 percent of the time. Jenkins finished fourth, at 9.1 percent.

Raji’s ineffectiveness up front was a major reason the Packers defense was so bad in 2011. He wasn’t just ineffective against the run either.

After recording 39 tackles and 6.5 sacks in his breakout 2010 season, Raji regressed in 2011, finishing with only 22 tackles and three sacks. His push of the middle on passing downs was typically nil.

Clearly, he can’t do it alone, but Raji’s 2010 campaign shows us two things. The Packers really need help on the defensive line and Raji needs to play fewer snaps to be effective.

It wouldn’t surprise us to see the Packers pick up two defensive linemen who can contribute immediately this offseason.

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