QBs in Focus: Under Pressure
We had some fun last summer breaking down quarterback play from every angle, so we’ve decided to dig into the database again to review the 2014 season. One of the beauties of collecting data on every play of the season is the ability to then isolate each player’s strengths and weaknesses. This series will take a look at how quarterbacks performed in various situations, looking beyond just the overall grades that are posted on the site.
As always with PFF grades, it’s important to remember that we are isolating the quarterback’s role in the play from everyone else. We are evaluating the decision making and the throw, not necessarily the result. A great pass that gets dropped by a receiver receives the same credit it would have if the pass was caught, while an ill-advised pass into coverage that is dropped by a linebacker is downgraded as if it was intercepted. It’s important to remember this distinction when diving into the grades.
Here’s a look at how quarterbacks fared under pressure in the 2014 season.
*Minimum 200 drop-backs to qualify
*All grades are normalized so that the NFL average is 0.0 for each category.
Who Faced the Most Pressure?
– The QBs that hold the ball longer tend to face the highest percentage of pressure, and that’s generally the case at the top of the list. Robert Griffin III had the fifth-highest time to throw at 2.94 seconds while Russell Wilson was first at 3.18 seconds.
– On the other end, the faster the QB can get the ball out of his hand, the less pressure he’ll face and that’s why Peyton Manning and Andy Dalton faced the lowest percentage of pressure as they got rid of the ball in 2.25 seconds and 2.41 seconds, respectively.
– Including the playoffs, Tom Brady’s 2.36 seconds in the pocket was the second quickest behind Manning, yet he still managed to face very close to the league average when it comes to pressure (32% vs. NFL avg of 33.4%).
Best/Worst Under Pressure
– In perhaps his best season as a pro, Ben Roethlisberger was the league’s best when pressured. He threw 11 touchdowns against one interception under pressure.
– Damage control was the name of the game for Ryan Tannehill who faced the eighth-highest percentage of pressure in the league, yet managed to rank third when normalized. For a quarterback facing that much pressure, his seven touchdowns, four interceptions, and 76.7 passer rating could have looked much worse.
– For the second year in a row, Eli Manning finds himself on the bottom end of the grades when pressured, though he faced the sixth-lowest percentage of pressure in the league.
Best/Worst with No Pressure
– No surprise to see the No. 2 player in the PFF 101 sitting atop the charts. Aaron Rodgers was dominant when given time to throw.
– Even in a clean pocket, Blake Bortles still had his struggles as a rookie. His passer rating of 84.9 wasn’t bad, but he had some help from his receivers as his grade did not match up to that number.
– Jay Cutler was one of the rare cases that saw him struggle in a clean pocket just as much if not more than he did when pressured.
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