PFF Signature Stats

Using the data only we collect for every player on every play of every game, our staff has created this series of unique metrics — there’s something for every position in our Signature Stats that offer even more of a tailored look into the NFL. You’ll see mention of them in many of our articles. Here’s a brief rundown of what we’ve put together and a selection of past leaders:

● Accuracy Percentage (QB)
● Deep Passing (QB)
● Passing Under Pressure (QB)
● Play Action Passing (QB)
● Time In Pocket (QB)
● Elusive Rating (RB)
● Breakaway Percentage (RB)
● Drop Rate (WR, TE, RB)
● WR Rating (WR)
● Deep Passing (WR, TE)
● Yards Per Route Run (WR, TE, RB)
● Slot Performance (WR, TE)
● Pass Blocking Efficiency (OL, OT, OG, C, TE, RB)

● Pass Rushing Productivity (DT/NT, 3-4DE, 4-3DE, 3-4OLB, 4-3OLB, ILB/MLB, CB, S)
● Run Stop Percentage (DT/NT, 3-4DE, 4-3DE, 3-4OLB, 4-3OLB, ILB/MLB, CB, S)
● Tackling Efficiency (3-4OLB, 4-3OLB, ILB/MLB, CB, S)
● Coverage (3-4OLB, 4-3OLB, ILB/MLB, CB, S)
● Slot Performance (CB)


Accuracy Percentage (QB)

Taking the commonly-used Completion Percentage a step or two further, we’ve accounted for a set of factors that help better define a quarterback’s performance on passes that were actually aimed at (and delivered to) a targeted receiver. We add back in dropped passes to give the QB credit for getting the ball to its destination and take away ‘attempts’ that were actually throwaways, spikes, or balls that were batted at the line and those that fluttered from his hand when hit as he threw. The result? Top Completion Percentages typically approach or climb slightly past 70%, while Accuracy Percentage leaders will be looking at numbers closer to 80%.

Example: Kurt Warner’s 2008 completion percentage of 67.1% was bumped to an Accuracy Percentage of 79.3% thanks to 35 dropped passes being awarded back to him, 12 throwaways and three spikes being marked off his record, and a combination of 33 other batted or ‘hit-as-threw’ efforts being counted out.

Sample article: 2012 Snapshot: Accuracy Percentage

Past Accuracy Percentage leaders (w/50% snaps filter):
2007: Jeff Garcia (TB) 81.4%
2008: Kurt Warner (ARZ) 79.3%
2009: Matt Schaub (HST) 79.4%
2010: Tom Brady (NE) 77.9%
2011: Aaron Rodgers (GB) 80.6%
2012: Aaron Rodgers (GB) 80.2%
2013: Philip Rivers (SD) 78.7%

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Deep Passing (QB)

Using our target location data, we’ve selected passing attempts that traveled 20 yards or more in the air. From that sample we offer a look at typical passing numbers as well as Attempt Percentage (number of deep passes relative to all attempts) and show the QB’s Accuracy Percentage on such throws. Whether you are looking to see who is going deep most often or who has been most successful at it, we’ve got the numbers here.

Example: In 2009, Drew Brees finished with the 10th-most Deep Pass attempts (63; Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning tied with 73 at the top), but his 1206 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 58.7 Accuracy Percentage on deep passes all led the league.

Sample article: Three Years of Deep Passing

Past Deep Passing leaders (by Deep Accuracy Percentage):
2007: Tom Brady (NE) 50.7% on 73 attempts
2008: Kurt Warner (ARZ) 58.7% on 46 attempts
2009: Drew Brees (NO) 58.7% on 63 attempts
2010: Vince Young (TEN) 54.3% on 35 attempts
2011: Aaron Rodgers (GB) 60.7% on 61 attempts
2012: Colin Kaepernick (SF) 60.6% on 33 attempts
2013: Case Keenum (HOU) 53.1% on 32 attempts

Note: PFF Premium Stats also include player-by-player ‘Passes by Direction’ grids that break down passing numbers not only by depth of target but also by left-middle-right attempts.

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Passing Under Pressure (QB)

A telling set of stats when considering a quarterback’s composure, we’ve assembled tables of data to show how often they find themselves under duress and how they operate in those situations. Who throws it away and who takes the sack? Whose pressured passes have been picked-off most frequently and whose have usually found an open receiver? Every pressured drop-back is counted here.

Example: Pressured on 25.1% of his 694 drop-backs, the 2011 version of Drew Brees took a sack on only 13.8% of the snaps where he faced pressure (fourth-best). He also posted a 90.9 QB Rating and his Accuracy Percentage on pressured passes of 69.2 led the league.

Sample article: 2011 Passing Under Pressure

Past Passing Under Pressure leaders (by Accuracy Percentage):
2007: Jeff Garcia (TB) 70.4% on 164 pressured drop-backs
2008: Trent Edwards (BUF) 77.9% on 116
2009: Aaron Rodgers (GB) 72.6% on 96
2010: Kevin Kolb (PHI) 73.3% on 69
2011: Drew Brees (NO) 69.2% on 174
2012: Robert Griffin III (WAS) 75.0% on 162
2013: Josh McCown (CHI) 77.0% on 90

Note: PFF Premium Stats also include player-by-player ‘Passing Under Pressure’ pages that break down the numbers and also highlight PFF grading in pressured/non-pressured and blitzed/not-blitzed situations. The same is available for each individual game as well. 

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Play Action Passing (QB)  *New in 2012

Looking for the impact of an offense’s running game on their passing game? A large portion of that shows in their use of play action passing. Stats here are split into ‘Play Action’ and ‘No Play Action’ so you can see who is using it most and what kind of results it’s bringing. Is your favorite QB more or less effective when using play action? And how does he compare to the rest of the league?

Note: this Signature Stat was new for the 2012 season and is not available for past seasons, except for 2007 which was recently added.

Sample article: 2012 Snapshot: Play Action Passing

Past Leaders:
2007: Tarvaris Jackson used play action most often (29.3% of passes) and Tom Brady posted the highest QB rating on play action passes (142.1).
2012: Robert Griffin III used play action most often (39.9%) and Matt Ryan posted the highest QB Rating on play action passes (121.5).
2013: Russell Wilson used play action most often (34.1%) and Peyton Manning posted the highest QB rating on play action passes (136.8).

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Time In Pocket (QB)  *New in 2012

Seem like your quarterback takes forever to get rid of the ball? Now you can compare him to his peers and see exactly how long he takes to throw, scramble, or take the sack. Additionally, on passes thrown, we show key numbers when the ball is released in less than (and more than) 2.6 seconds.

Note: this Signature Stat was new for the 2012 season and is not available for past seasons, outside of 2007 which was recently added.

Sample article: 2012 Snapshot: Time to Throw

Past Leaders:
2007: Tom Brady led the league in passer rating in under 2.6 seconds (121.8) and over 2.6 seconds (107.9). Brett Favre logged the quickest average Time to Throw (2.41 sec), Drew Brees had a league-low 3.07 seconds on sacks and was also the quickest to scramble (3.72).
2012: When throwing in less than 2.6 seconds, Aaron Rodgers led the league with a 115.1 QB rating; in over 2.6 seconds, Peyton Manning’s 113.0 was tops. Andy Dalton and Ryan Fitzpatrick were quickest to get the pass away (2.40 seconds average for both), Ben Roethlisberger saw the least amount of time before taking a sack (2.43 seconds average), and Matt Schaub is quickest to decide to scramble (3.85 seconds average).
2013: Peyton Manning led in QB rating when throwing in less than 2.6 seconds (121.4) and Nick Foles was best in the over-2.6 seconds category (120.0). Dalton again was quickest to throw (2.24 seconds average), Tom Brady saw the least amount of tie before taking a sack (3.36 seconds average), and Eli Manning was quickest to scramble (4.20 seconds average).

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Elusive Rating (RB)

As dependent on their blocking as they are, what are running backs actually creating on their own? The PFF Elusive Rating sifts out their work beyond the help they get. Using the number of missed tackles runners force on all touches (rushing and receiving) and our Yards After Contact tallies, the Elusive Rating formula spits out a score that helps rank the league’s best at making things happen when it’s completely up to them.

Example: LaGarrette Blount’s 2010 season was punctuated by forcing an outstanding 50 missed tackles and churning for 739 yards after contact on his way to the highest Elusive Rating score we’ve logged.

Sample article: Three Years of the Elusive Rating

Past Elusive Rating leaders:
2007: Fred Taylor (JAX) 73.8
2008: DeAngelo Williams (CAR) 83.4
2009: Justin Forsett (SEA) 70.0
2010: LeGarrette Blount (TB) 89.2
2011: Jonathan Stewart (CAR) 81.4
2012: CJ Spiller (BUF) 94.6
2013: Donald Brown (IND) 73.8

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Breakaway Percentage (RB)

The home-run hitters capable of breaking off big chunks at any moment are all found here. Comparing runs of 15 yards or more (and the total yardage gained on them) to each back’s overall production produces the ‘Breakaway Percentage’ and highlights the true big-play threats.

Example: Earning over half of his 2037 rushing yards on runs of over 15 yards in 2009, Chris Johnson is the only runner we’ve seen chalk up 1000+ on breakaway runs.

Sample article: 2012 Snapshot: Breakaway Percentage

Past Breakaway Percentage leaders:
2007: Adrian Peterson (MIN) 49.1%
2008: DeAngelo Williams (CAR) 43.0%
2009: Chris Johnson (TEN) 50.4%
2010: Daren McFadden (OAK) and LeGarrette Blount (TB) 45.7%
2011: Darren Sproles (NO) 52.4%
2012: Adrian Peterson (MIN) 56.5%
2013: Andre Ellington (ARZ) 47.9%

Note: In addition to these Signature Stats, PFF Premium subscribers also have access to detailed running game data including rushing stats broken down by which gaps were being attacked by each runner in each game.

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Drop Rate (WR, TE, RB)

Sticky fingers or hands of stone, the league’s best (and worst) pass-catchers are highlighted in these tables. Adding up all of the catchable balls every player sees come his way and comparing it to the number that he can’t haul in, the Drop Rate gives black-and-white backing to ‘best hands/worst hands’ arguments. This Signature Stat is available for wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs.

Example: Great for tracking improvement (or fall-off) over time, the Drop Rate shows Darrius Heyward-Bey’s 2009-to-2011 progression from dropping 35.71% of catchable balls to 21.21% to 8.57%.

Sample article: Three Years of Drop Rate: Wide Receivers | Tight Ends | Running Backs

Past Drop Rate ‘leaders’ (worst Drop Rate, wide receivers):
2007: Devery Henderson (NO) 33.33% dropped
2008: Braylon Edwards (CLV) 25.68% dropped
2009: Darrius Heyward-Bey (OAK) 35.71% dropped
2010: Bryant Johnson (DET) 28.00% dropped
2011: Jonathan Baldwin (KC) 22.22% dropped
2012: Early Doucet (ARZ) 22.22% dropped
2013: Davone Bess (CLE) 25.00% dropped

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WR Rating (WR)

We’re all familiar with the QB Passer Rating that shows passing production from the QB’s point of view, but how about a look backward from the receiver’s? PFF’s ‘WR Rating’ calculates the QB Rating on passes targeted to each and every individual wide receiver.

Example: Jordy Nelson’s 93 targets in 2011 netted him a 150.2 ‘WR Rating’ thanks to his 68 catches, 1200+ yards, 15 touchdowns, and only one interception on passes his way.

Past WR Rating leaders:
2007: Jabar Gaffney (NE) 143.6
2008: Kevin Walter (HST) 131.6
2009: Robert Meachem (NO) 152.7
2010: Austin Collie (IND) 143.4
2011: Jordy Nelson (GB) 150.2
2012: Danario Alexander (SD) 134.1
2013: Kenny Stills (NO) 139.3

Note: PFF Premium Stats also include coverage matchups for each game, showing receivers vs. each defender they logged targets against.

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Deep Passing (WR, TE)

As with the quarterback’s Deep Passing Signature Stat, this one considers only those passes that travel over 20 yards in the air. For each wide receiver and tight end, the numbers posted include: total deep targets, catchable deep passes, drops on deep balls, yards on deep passes, and more, ultimately resulting in Target Percentage (deep targets as a percentage of all targets), Drop Rate, and Catch Rate that serve to put numbers to the notion of the deep threat.

Example: Roddy White saw 20 catchable deep passes in 2008. He hauled in 14 (three that went for scores) and dropped six. Compare that to Brandon Lloyd’s 2010 season where he caught 17 of the 18 catchable deep balls that he was targeted on and turned six of those into points.

Past Deep Passing leaders (wide receivers, by Deep Passing Yards):
2007: Randy Moss (NE) 630
2008: Steve Smith (CAR) 589
2009: Andre Johnson (HOU) 557
2010: Brandon Lloyd (DEN) 614
2011: Jordy Nelson (GB) 637
2012: Calvin Johnson (DET) 652
2013: A.J. Green (CIN) 586

Note: Similar to what we offer for the quarterbacks, PFF Premium Stats also include player-by-player ‘Receiving by Direction’ grids that break down receiving numbers not only by depth of target but also by left-middle-right attempts.

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Yards Per Route Run (WR, TE, RB)

Not satisfied with Yards Per Catch or even Yards Per Target as sufficient measuring sticks for receiving production, ‘Yards Per Route Run’ makes use of our detailed snap data that breaks down what each player was doing on each play. Total receiving yards is divided by the number of plays a receiver spent out in a pattern to give a mark to their per-snap contribution.

Example: With Jake Delhomme his quarterback in 2008, Carolina’s Steve Smith topped the league with an average of 3.82 yards per route-running snap (1405 yards on 368 routes). In his resurgent 2011 with Cam Newton at the helm, he put up nearly the same number of yards (1394) but on 590 routes for a YPRR of 2.36.

Sample article: Three Years of YPRR: Wide Receivers | Tight Ends | Running Backs

Past YPRR leaders (wide receivers):
2007: Andre Johnson (HOU) 3.20
2008: Steve Smith (CAR) 3.82
2009: Wes Welker (NE) 2.99
2010: Kenny Britt (TEN) 3.06
2011: Victor Cruz (NYG) 3.08
2012: Andre Johnson (HOU) 3.01
2013: Julio Jones (ATL) 2.74

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Slot Performance (WR, TE)

As the NFL as a whole grows more and more fond of three-receiver sets, the slot receiver position takes on increased importance. Whether they’re the quick and shifty coverage-shakers or the freakishly big and athletic mismatches, those doing damage from the slot deserve their due. We’ve sorted out everything from the number of routes run from the slot to targets, drops, and even slot YPRR. The numbers are there for wide receivers who’ve slid inside and tight ends who’ve split out.

Example: The revelation that was Victor Cruz in 2011 matched slot receiver cover boy Wes Welker’s yardage on slot receptions (1208 to 1207), but did so on 28 fewer grabs.

Sample article: 2012 Snapshot: Slot YPRR

Past Slot Performance leaders (wide receivers, by slot YPRR):
2007: Terrell Owens (DAL) 3.47
2008: Steve Smith (CAR) 3.60
2009: Desean Jackson (PHI) 3.06
2010: Jordy Nelson (GB) 2.54
2011: Victor Cruz (NYG) 3.34
2012: Michael Crabtree (SF) 3.71
2013: Alshon Jeffery (CHI) 2.89

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Pass Blocking Efficiency (OL, OT, OG, C, TE, RB)

Making full use of our snap data and pressure tallies, plays spent in pass protection are compared to the total number of QB disruptions allowed by each player. The Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE) formula weighs sacks a bit heavier than hits and hurries and produces a rating that reflects the most efficient pass blockers on a per-pass-blocking snap basis with scores closer to 100 being best. We’ve got these ratings available for full O-line units and individually for tackles, guards, centers, tight ends, and running backs.

Example: Part of the offensive line unit that finished second in Pass Blocking Efficiency (behind only the New York Jets) in 2010, former top pick Jake Long led his Dolphins teammates by working the blindside edge to a personal PBE of 97.2; allowing just 21 total pressures on over 600 pass-blocking snaps. In a similar number of snaps, Cardinals OT Levi Brown surrendered 70 (91.0 PBE).

Sample article: Three Years of PBE: Tackles | Guards | Centers | Running Backs | Tight Ends

Past Pass Blocking Efficiency leaders (offensive tackles):
2007: Jordan Gross (CAR) 98.3
2008: Michael Roos (TEN) 97.7
2009: Willie Colon (PIT) 97.9
2010: Jake Long (MIA) 97.2
2011: Harvey Dahl (SL) 97.8
2012: Joe Thomas (CLE) 97.9
2013: Anthony Collins (CIN) 97.2

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Pass Rushing Productivity (DT/NT, 3-4DE, 4-3DE, 3-4OLB, 4-3OLB, ILB/MLB, CB, S)

The single most referenced Signature Stat for the defensive side of the ball is our ‘Pass Rushing Productivity’ that calculates a score to reflect the frequency of pressure generated by a defender. All sacks, hits, and hurries are added up and (with sacks weighted heavier and some multipliers in place to give us a workable PRP score) they’re broken down on a per-pass-rushing-snap basis.

This stat is presented for all defensive positions, so you can check in on the blitzing DBs and linebackers when you are done sorting through the game’s best edge rushers. Speaking of those typical edge rushers (4-3 DEs and 3-4 OLBs), we’ve taken their numbers apart even further, showing the damage they’ve done (or not done) from the left and right sides.

Sample article: Three Years of PRP: Edge Rushers | Interior Linemen | Linebackers | Defensive Backs

Past Pass Rushing Productivity leaders (4-3 Defensive Ends):
2007: John Abraham (ATL) 12.9
2008: John Abraham (ATL) 14.7
2009: Dwight Freeney (IND) 14.1
2010: Charles Johnson (CAR) 14.1
2011: Trent Cole (PHI) 14.9
2012: Cameron Wake (MIA) 12.9
2013: Robert Quinn (STL) 15.3

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Run Stop Percentage (DT/NT, 3-4DE, 4-3DE, 3-4OLB, 4-3OLB, ILB/MLB, CB, S)

You finished with 120 tackles this year? That’s great, but where did you make them? If a defender is racking up tackles but not keeping the offense from getting what they were after, how meaningful are they? For our Run Stop Percentage Signature Stat, we’ve combined our tackle totals (built from viewing games retrospectively and with the aid of a rewind button, so consider their accuracy a step beyond the inconsistent numbers you’ll find in the unofficial ‘official’ stats), our run defense snap counts, and defensive Stops to produce this worthy look at individual run D production.

Stops are what we judge to be tackles that prevent an offensive success (defined as gaining 40% of required yardage on first down, 60% on second down, and the entire required yardage on third or fourth) and making more of them per run defense snap will bump you on this list. Note: for safeties, these numbers are also shown in splits for when they’ve lined up within 8 yards of the line of scrimmage.

Sample article: 2011 Run Stop Percentage: Defensive Tackles | 3-4 Defensive Ends | Linebackers | Cornerbacks

Past Run Stop Percentage leaders (Middle and Inside linebackers):
2007: D.J.WIlliams (DEN) 13.6%
2008: Curtis Lofton (ATL) 12.5%
2009: Brandon Siler (SD) 12.3%
2010: James Farrior (PIT) 13.6%
2011: Joe Mays (DEN) and NaVorro Bowman (SF) 14.3%
2012: Bobby Wagner (SEA) 14.4%
2013: Brian Cushing (HOU) 18.1%

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Tackling Efficiency (3-4OLB, 4-3OLB, ILB/MLB, CB, S)

Putting missed tackles into perspective, this Signature Stat not only boils all of the tackling data down to a simple ‘attempts per miss’ number, it also separates out the Tackling Efficiency of all linebackers and defensive backs on the snaps they’ve spent in run defense and pass defense.

Sample article: Three Years of  Tackling Efficiency: Linebackers | Edge Rushers | Interior Linemen | Defensive Backs

Past Tackling Efficiency leaders (as 4-3 Outside Linebackers):
2007: Julian Peterson (SEA) 62.0 attempts per miss
2008: Na’il Diggs (CAR) 46.0 attempts per miss
2009: Bryan Thomas (NYJ) 37 total tackles without a miss
2010: Paul Posluszny (BUF) 41.0 attempts per miss
2011: Von Miller (DEN) 49 total tackles without a miss
2012: Jerod Mayo (NE) 27.2 attempts per miss
2013: Jerod Mayo (NE) 24.5 attempts per miss

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Coverage (3-4OLB, 4-3OLB, ILB/MLB, CB, S)

Reputation can scare opponents from challenging certain defenders, or it can put a target on the back of a cover man. That reputation can be well deserved or the product of unfounded hype. In order to cut through the noise, you need to see the numbers. This set of Signature Stats tallies all things coverage related, from snaps spent in coverage to Yards After the Catch on completions aimed at each defender.

The numbers for all linebackers and defensive backs when deemed the primary cover man are here and they add up to some never-before-seen measures (Yards Per Cover Snap, Cover Snaps Per Target, and Cover Snaps Per Reception) that will help you sort out who’s getting the job done. To top it all off, as we did with the WR Rating, we’ve back-calculated the Passer Rating opponents produce when throwing at each defender.

Past ‘Yards Per Cover Snap’ leaders (Cornerbacks):

2007: Nnamdi Asomugha (OAK) 0.50
2008: Nnamdi Asomugha (OAK) 0.36
2009: Nnamdi Asomugha (OAK) 0.59
2010: Asante Samuel (PHI) 0.36
2011: Brent Grimes (ATL) 0.58
2012: Champ Bailey (DEN) 0.82
2013: Darrelle Revis (TB) 0.72

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Slot Performance (CB)

For another layer of depth in coverage data, we’ve sorted out the snaps spent covering the slot and applied the same calculations as we did in the overall coverage section. So, here you’ll find who is spending the most snaps in that increasingly important nickel corner role as well as the targets they see and the receptions, yards, YAC, TDs, and INTs they surrender from the slot.

Past Slot Performance: QB Rating Against leaders:
2007: Terence Newman (DAL) 46.2 on 243 slot snaps
2008: Charles Woodson (GB) 38.4 on 342 slot snaps
2009: Ty Law (DEN) 46.0 on 124 slot snaps
2010: Alphonso Smith (DET) 43.5 on 112 slot snaps
2011: Nnamdi Asomugha (PHI) 36.8 on 107 slot snaps
2012: Casey Hayward (GB) 47.0 on 338 slot snaps
2013: Leon Hall (CIN) 43.8 on 121 slot snaps

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