Missed assignments. Overload blitzes. Defensive line games. All are major reasons as to why rushers find themselves with a free run at the quarterback.
Did the offensive line have enough blockers and simply miss an assignment? Was the protection overloaded and unable to handle the rush? Did the rusher come free by offensive design either because of a rollout or hot read? Those are just some of the scenarios that arise over the course of the game and while it’s tracked, the following data includes all of those possible situations.
While some offenses always seem to allow an unimpeded path at to their quarterback, certain defenses are equally adept at creating these situations. So which offenses find themselves under the most unblocked pressure? Which defenses take the most free shots at the quarterback? A deep delve in the PFF database answers all of your questions.
Most Unblocked Pressure Allowed, Offense
A pair of NFC West teams sit atop this list, and not terribly surprising to see the Seattle Seahawks there given quarterback Russell Wilson’s being under pressure on a league-high 47 percent of his snaps. I expected to see the Miami Dolphins much higher on the list given their offensive line struggles and second half pass protection collapse against the New England Patriots last week, but they’re actually one of the better teams in the league at avoiding unblocked pressure.
The Denver Broncos are best in the league allowing only nine unblocked pressures, perhaps a testament to QB Peyton Manning’s understanding of protections and his quick release.
|Rank||Offense||Hurry||Hit||Sack||Total||Knockdown %||Sack %|
Most Unblocked Pressure, Defense
Much of the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive success in recent years was attributed to departed defensive coordinator Ray Horton, but they sit atop the list even without the former architect of their multiple 3-4 sets. It’s hard to watch a Kansas City Chiefs game without seeing a plethora of pass rushers bearing down on the quarterback, whether blocked or unblocked, so no surprise to see them near the top of the list.
The next team down, however, is a bit of a surprise as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are known more for their disastrous record on and off the field this season, and while they’re often pigeon-holed as a bland zone defense, they’ve managed to rank third in this category.
Rounding out the bottom is the Pittsburgh Steelers who many would think would find success in this area given defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s penchant for exotic blitzes, but they come in dead last with only 11 unblocked pressures.
|Rank||Defense||Hurry||Hit||Sack||Total||Knockdown %||Sack %|
Unblocked Pressure Converted to Knockdowns, Offense
Of all unblocked pressures, 44% have been converted into knockdowns (hits plus sacks), with the Patriots’ offense ‘leading’ the league at 64%. QB Tom Brady is certainly not known for his mobility, but there’s not enough evidence to suggest that the lesser athletic quarterbacks become sitting ducks in the pocket compared their more mobile brethren.
Tampa Bay finds themselves on the good end of yet another category as they’ve found a way to avoid knockdowns better than any team in the league.
Highest Knockdown Conversion Percentage, Offense
|Rank||Offense||Hurry||Hit||Sack||Total||Hit Conv %|
Lowest Knockdown Conversion Percentage, Offense
|Rank||Offense||Hurry||Hit||Sack||Total||Hit Conv %|
Unblocked Pressure Converted to Knockdowns, Defense
On the other side, the New Orleans Saints make the most of their unblocked pressures, knocking the quarterback down 71% of the time, well above the league average. The Cardinals are high on this list as well, not only notching a lot of unblocked pressures, but making sure the quarterback goes down a high percentage of the time.
The Steelers find themselves near the bottom again while the St. Louis Rams come in last converting only 21% of their unblocked pressures into knockdowns.
Highest Knockdown Conversion Percentage, Defense
Lowest Knockdown Conversion Percentage, Defense
Unblocked Pressure Converted to Sacks, Offense
The Dolphins finally make their debut at the top of a list. They’re third in the league with 27% of their unblocked pressures resulting in sacks. The Patriots and Bengals are also back at the top as Brady and QB Andy Dalton are finished off more than any other QBs facing free rushers.
Highest Sack Conversion Percentage, Offense
Lowest Sack Conversion Percentage, Offense
Unblocked Pressure Converted to Sacks, Defense
The Saints top this list as well as they make the most of their pressures though Tampa Bay has the most unblocked sacks of any team in the league with nine. Only the Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars have yet to notch an unblocked sack.
Highest Sack Conversion Percentage, Defense
Lowest Sack Conversion Percentage, Defense
Unblocked Pressure, Top Players
It’s no surprise to see the league’s top linebackers in Pass Rush Productivity sitting atop this list in Derrick Johnson and Lavonte David. Johnson leads all inside linebackers in PRP at 30.8 while David leads 4-3 outside linebackers at 35.7. They’ve both benefitted from scheme, but also shown well as blitzers finding their way to the quarterback.
Rob Ninkovich is the top defensive end on the list and they usually break free to the quarterback because of coverage breakdowns or designed rollouts.
|Rank||Defender||Hurry||Hit||Sack||Total||Knockdown %||Sack %|
|1||Derrick O. Johnson||5||5||2||12||58.3%||16.7%|
Around the Site This Week
– A good look at Dual Threat Quarterbacks from Rick Drummond.
– Neil Hornsby’s Third Phase goes into details about kickoff roles. Who are the league’s best in kickoff coverage?
– Who are the Secret Superstars for Week 8? Gordon McGuinness shares.
– A closer look at WR Drops by Khaled Elsayed.
– Your previews for Week 9.
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