There’s no question the best weapon Kansas City Chiefs LB Tamba Hali brings to the table is his ability to rush the passer, but he can do more than that. The fine folks at Pro Football Focus broke down tackling prowess of all linebackers and Hali rated as one of the best among those playing outside.
No 3-4 OLB made more attempts than the 94 Pittsburgh’s James Harrison racked-up. OK, so some of that is due to the number of snaps he played, but the one player at the position to play more snaps than Harrison last year was Tamba Hali, who recorded just 51 tackle attempts. Despite the difference in attempts, the two finished next to each other on the list in terms of ratio, with Hali missing just a pair of tackles and Harrison right behind him, missing just four of his 94.
Two 3-4 OLBs went the year without missing a tackle, and both played for the Packers, but neither are the player you’re thinking. Erik Walden and Brad Jones combined for just 42 attempts on the season and neither recorded a miss. As for that other guy … Clay Matthews attempted 59 tackles and missed four, for a pretty reasonable ratio of 14.75.
At the poor end of things, the man with the nickname ‘One Man Gang’, Lorenzo Alexander, missed one in every 5.88 tackles he attempted. Perhaps predictably showing some issues with playing in space after having converted from defensive tackle in the off-season. Alexander owns the poorest ratio of the 3-4 OLBs, but Clark Haggans of the Cardinals and Mike Vrabel of the Chiefs aren’t far behind, missing one in every 6.43 and 6.63 tackles respectively.
With Hali rarely doing anything other than coming off the edge, there’s good reason why he attempted roughly half the amount of tackles as a guy like James Harrison. Other than the very occasional trip into coverage — where Hali is clearly still at his weakest — it was all about getting after the passer.
There were times last season that Hali could have been stronger against the run, but these numbers show that when he did find his way to the ball carrier, it wasn’t often they got away.
Vrabel, on the other hand, is right about where I figured he would end up. A great guy that I would love to have back on the team next season to help continue guiding Andy Studebaker in addition to working with Cameron Sheffield and Justin Houston.