QBs and the Screen Game, 2014
After last season, we took a look at quarterbacks and the screen game, showing which QBs benefitted most from “free” yards that result in putting the ball in playmakers’ hands in space. As we mentioned in the previous article, screen game success has little to do with the quarterback and much more to do with the receiver/running back, play call timing, blocking, and opposing defense. As always with PFF grading, the result of the play will not affect the quarterback’s grade, once the ball leaves his hand, we evaluate the throw and the rest is up to his teammates.
So, for instance, a screen that goes for an 80-yard touchdown will likely earn the same grade for the quarterback as one that goes for a 2-yard loss, though we know how much plays like this skew the boxscore and perception of a quarterback’s performance. We’ve heard that the screen game is used as an “extension of the running game,” and that’s often what it is, though quarterback numbers are still altered by their success or failure. That’s not to say that having success on screens is a bad thing, just that the resulting stats need to be kept in context.
With that in mind, here’s a look at how quarterbacks used the screen game in 2014.
– Matt Ryan benefitted from a healthy Julio Jones who picked up the third-most yards on wide receiver screens in the league.
– Ryan tied with Alex Smith to lead the league with five touchdowns on screen passes.
– Redskins QB Kirk Cousins led the league with 11.0 yards/attempt on screens while teammate Robert Griffin III ranked third at 8.6.
– On the other end of the spectrum is Titans quarterbacks Jake Locker and Charlie Whitehurst who averaged 3.7 and 1.7 yards/attempt respectively.
– Blake Bortles led the league with 61 completions on screens.
– Peyton Manning once again picked up the majority of his screen yards to wide receivers as Demaryius Thomas ranked seventh among wide receivers with 152 yards.
– Manning led the league with 48 completions on wide receiver screens with Ben Roethlisberger ranking second with 36.
– Teddy Bridgewater ranked fourth in wide receiver screen yards with 87 of them coming on a game-winning screen to Jarius Wright in Week 14. Wright led all wide receivers with 203 yards on screens.
– Robert Griffin III picked up 12 percent of his total passing yards on wide receiver screens alone while Nick Foles ranked second in this department at 10.3 percent.
– The top two return in tact as Matthew Stafford and Drew Brees led the league in running back screen yards last year as well.
– Brees led the league with 40 completions on running back screens.
– J. Manuel picked up 11.1 percent of his total passing yards on running back screens, the highest percentage in the league.
– Aaron Rodgers averaged 13.4 yards/attempt on his 14 screen attempts.
Follow Steve on Twitter.