One of the things that stood out during the regular season was the overall poor play at the quarterback position. Now before readers bombard with all of the record-breaking numbers from 2013, remember, we’re talking on a play-to-play, throw-for-throw basis. Passing numbers may be at an all-time high, but the individual play was a bit disappointing.
Among the major factors for the disconnect between shoddy quarterback play and other-worldly passing numbers is simply the rule changes that have encouraged teams to neglect the running game in order to pass. So while passing yardage continues to add up, so do passing attempts. In exchange for the running game, we’re seeing more wide receiver screens than ever before and they seem to be getting more creative every season.
Some quarterbacks have certainly benefitted from the screen game more than others, and when we say “benefitted,” it’s only in the form of raw numbers (yards), rather than our actual PFF grades. Once the ball is released from a quarterback’s hand, he has little to do with the result of the play, particularly on screen plays which are generally one-read throws with the result of the play completely in the hands of the receiver, his blockers, and the defense. So those 80-yard screens that look great on the stat sheet will generally garner the same 0-grade for the QB as a 4-yard loss on the exact same play, yet again one of the many reasons why raw stats can often mislead.
Without further ado, here are the quarterbacks who have benefited the most from the screen game:
|Name||Team||Yds||Total Screen Yds||Screen Yds %|
|Alex D. Smith||KC||3313||472||14.2%|
|Robert Griffin III||WAS||3203||314||9.8%|
Among the season’s major stories was the implementation of Chip Kelly’s offense in Philadelphia and a quick dive into our stats will show some glaring trends. Nick Foles leads the league with 16.4 percent of his yards coming from screens, but it’s not as if the entire offense is dinking and dunking down the field. Foles is also seventh in the league with 803 yards from deep passes (20+ yards in the air), meaning an amazing 44 percent of his yardage has come from either deep passes or screens.
That’s by far the highest total in the league with Aaron Rodgers coming in second in that unique category at 37.5 percent. Alex Smith has the second highest percentage of his yards coming from screens with about 25% of his 472 screen yards coming in Week 15 against the Oakland Raiders when running back Jamaal Charles stole the show.
At the bottom of the list sits Brandon Weeden who picked up only 16 of his 1731 yards on screens. It’s interesting to note that while only 0.9 percent of his yards came from screens, teammate Jason Campbell came in at 7.5 percent.
Also notable is the similarity between Mike Glennon and Eli Manning who both come in near the bottom. The Giants and Buccaneers run a near-identical scheme that relies more on downfield passing and wide receiver route adjustments with little help from the screen game, as the numbers bear out.
It should come as no surprise that Peyton Manning sits atop the list of total screen yards given his gaudy yardage totals and the weapons at his disposal. He comes in at ninth with 10.5 percent of his total yards coming from screens.
Running Back Screens
With Reggie Bush and Joique Bell in the backfield, Matthew Stafford leads the league with his 333 yards on running back screens. Drew Brees is right behind him with 315, but it’s interesting to note that he only had 13 yards come from wide receiver screens. As mentioned, Alex Smith had a lot of help from Jamaal Charles to rank No. 3 on the list.
On the other end, the running back screen was clearly not a part of the Vikings’ game plan as quarterbacks Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel combined for only 6 yards.
|Name||Team||Total Screen Yds||RB Screen Yds|
|Alex D. Smith||KC||472||314|
|Robert Griffin III||WAS||314||65|
It seemed like Demaryius Thomas broke a big gain on a screen on a weekly basis and the league’s YAC leader was a big factor in Manning’s league-leading 406 yards on wide receiver screens. The Bengals have a number of intriguing screen options putting Dalton at No. 2 while the Jaguars became quite creative as the season progressed to help Chad Henne rank No. 4 on the list.
In addition to Brees near the bottom, Bills rookie E.J. Manuel ranked last with only 3 yards coming from wide receiver screens. Just as Glennon and Eli Manning are connected by scheme, so too are Brees and Manuel as Bills head coach Doug Marrone is the Saints’ former offensive coordinator, perhaps leading to this trend between the two teams.
|Name||Team||Total Screen Yds||WR Screen Yds|
|Robert Griffin III||WAS||314||249|
|Alex D. Smith||KC||472||158|
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