In what should be a surprise to nobody in 2019, passing first downs and passing first down percentage are some of the clearest indicators of an offense’s quality and that’s offense’s overall success. And on the other side of that coin, prevention of first downs is one of the keys to successful defense.
The great Chase Stuart of Football Perspective, defines passing first down percentage as “passing first downs divided by total team pass attempts (which includes sacks).” The Chicago Bears defense led the NFL in defensive passing first down percentage with a mark of 28% while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in dead last at 36.5%.
The Los Angeles Chargers pass defense led by Derwin James and the pass rushing duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram rank 6th by this metric having allowed a first down on only 30.4% of passing plays and allowed the fifth fewest passing first downs overall.
The top defenses by this statistic were all quality defenses overall and that is certainly true of Gus Bradley’s unit.