Cumulative Effect: Individual QBs
Last week I looked into how quarterbacks were effected by getting sacked and hit multiple times over the course of a game. This was followed by going into more detail by controlling for the quality of the quarterback, the depth of the pass, and the quarter of the game. Through all of that, the general conclusion was: the more a quarterback gets sacked or hit, the more their accuracy decreases.
The next step is looking at some individual quarterbacks. The problem is that the sample sizes for looking at a single quarterback in a single season is too small. The average full-time starter averaged just 128 attempts in a season where they had yet to be sacked or hit in a game. The sample size of how many passes a quarterback has after getting sacked or hit once is 94, and the samples just gets smaller from there. Therefore, any single pass attempt can have a large effect on their Accuracy Percentage.
However, we have six full years of PFF data, and looking at that six-year span greatly increases the sample size and leads to some interesting results. For the majority of quarterbacks, there is a little noise in the data, but there is a general downward trend. For a typical example here is Kyle Orton from 2008-2013:
Over the past six years Orton has been more accurate after getting sacked or hit once than he has been without getting sacked or hit. After a few additional sacks/hits his accuracy decreases significantly, but then he is a little more accurate after five sacks/hits than he is at four. I would expect given an infinite number of passing attempts that from one point to another there would always be a decrease. Unfortunately, when looking at various subsets of data like this, sample size will always be an issue.
There are some quarterbacks who show a very clear decline. On average a quarterback will see their Accuracy Percentage decrease by 0.5% after each sack/hit they take. These quarterbacks show a decline of over 1% for each sack/hit they take.
For these teams, their offensive line’s pass blocking is more valuable than other team’s offensive lines. Last year while Drew Brees was amongst the top few quarterbacks in the league, his overall PFF rating was much lower than it had been the previous two years. He also had Charles Brown as his starting left tackle for most of the year. He was also sacked and hit more last year than the previous year.
This could potentially help explain part of why Matt Ryan declined in 2013. In 2012, Ryan had Sam Baker, Justin Blalock, Tyson Clabo and Todd McClure as four of his pass blockers, and the team allowed 68 sacks/hits on the season. In 2013 he was without all four of those blockers, and the team allowed 85 sacks/hits. While in general the better the quarterback, the less getting sacked/hit multiple time effects them, it is interesting to note that quarterbacks of varying quality can see such a dramatic change in accuracy.
While the majority of quarterbacks follow trends like the first two graphs, there are a few exceptions to the rules. Below are two quarterbacks who have been an exception to the rule.
My best guess to the reason of this is these quarterbacks needs some game time before they reach their peak performance. It could be that these two quarterbacks are different from the others and truly get better after taking a few hits. It could also be that these quarterbacks have more noisy data than others, and if we go back to Michael Vick’s career before 2008, or in the future see more of Tannehill’s career, we might see these graphs become more similar to the other quarterbacks.
While the general trend is quarterbacks gradually getting worse as they get sacked/hit, like most statistics there are exceptions to the norm. For some of the younger quarterbacks on this list, it will be interesting to see if these trends continue over time, or if they become more like the other quarterbacks in the league.
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