Palazzolo’s Pitch: Young Arms

Steve Palazzolo uses this week's Pitch to have a look in on the rookie QB class and shares other thoughts from around the league.

| 4 years ago

Palazzolo’s Pitch: Young Arms

Pitch-WK06Rookie Report: Quarterbacks

The Pitch will take a short detour to check in on the rookies from time to time, starting this week with the quarterbacks. The class of 2013 had a difficult act to follow after four quarterbacks established themselves as the clear future for their respective franchise while still another, Brandon Weeden, is at least in the running. This class was certainly less-heralded and much less predictable as the Buffalo Bills surprised most pundits by making E.J. Manuel the first QB to come off the board, while many analysts’ top signal-caller, Geno Smith, was left with a longer-than-expected stay in the green room. At this point, however, draft status is irrelevant and performances is all that matters, so let’s take a look at how the rookie quarterback class is shaping up after five weeks.

E.J. Manuel, Buffalo Bills
Playing Time: Started all five games
Overall Grade: -11.6
Key PFF Numbers:

•  23rd in Accuracy Percentage at 67.4 percent.
•  17th in Deep Pass Accuracy at 27.3 percent.
•  Ninth-highest Time to Throw at 2.89 seconds.

Notes:  The Bills have kept things relatively simple for Manuel, only running a handful of concepts in the passing game and relying heavily on the run. He’s done his best work to the intermediate middle of the field where he’s shown well on crossing routes, particularly when working off play action. Manuel has experienced the expected rookie struggles, as he looks uncomfortable in the pocket at times, especially when throwing down the field. His game against the New York Jets in Week 3 exposed his inability to accurately throw the deep ball as the Jets continually challenged him by crowding the line of scrimmage on third down, as they do against most teams, and he was unable to take advantage of the single coverage on the outside. Manuel went down to injury against the Cleveland Browns last week and he’ll miss at least this weekend’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Geno Smith, New York Jets
laying Time: Started all five games
Overall Grade: -1.6
Key PFF Numbers:

•  Second in Deep Pass Accuracy Percentage at 58.3 percent.
•  Completed 14-of-24 deep balls for 500 yards and three touchdowns.
•  Third-highest Time to Throw at 3.24 seconds.
•  Third-highest percentages of passes that are thrown in >=2.6 seconds.

Notes: Again, the usual first-year caveats apply, but overall, Smith has shown well to this point in his rookie campaign. He’ll still throw into coverage and his pocket mechanics are odd at times as he likes to drift deep beyond the line of scrimmage in Madden-like fashion, but he’s shown a fearless ability to get the ball down the field. Perhaps most impressive has been his ability to bounce back from adversity, both in-game and week to week. His head coach, Rex Ryan, has shown the same knack for bringing his best when odds appeared stacked against him and as I wrote back in Week 3, it’s an attribute that should bode well for his time in New York.

From a quarterbacking standpoint, there’s a lot of like about Smith’s performance through five games. The deep ball numbers certainly jump out and he’s also shown well in the intermediate game. As mentioned, he can stand to handle pressure in a pocket better and a lot of the pressure he’s faced has been brought upon himself as we’ve attributed five of his 18 sacks to his own doing. Still, the Jets have to be encouraged by Smith’s development, but the rookie roller coaster will likely continue throughout the season.

Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Playing Time: Made first start in Week 4, expected starter for rest of season
Grade: -6.4
Key PFF Numbers (Small sample size warning):

•  QB Rating of 24.8 on his 11 play action attempts
•  Only two of his 39 aimed passes have traveled beyond 20 yards in the air

Notes: It’s tough to evaluate Glennon’s performance with only one start under his belt, and the rest of his season will go a long way in determining his future in Tampa Bay. He struggled in his one outing against the Arizona Cardinals, most notably throwing an ill-advised interception to cornerback Patrick Peterson with 3:23 to go in the fourth quarter of a tie game in his own territory. Glennon did flash some ability to get the ball down the field in the preseason, so there’s certainly some hope that he can turn things around and make some progress throughout his rookie season.

Jeff Tuel, Buffalo Bills
Playing Time: Saw only action in relief of Manuel in Week 5
Grade: -4.9
Key PFF Numbers (Small sample size warning):

•  1-for-6 for 13 yards on passes targeted at beyond 10 yards in the air

Notes: Tuel was thrust into the action against the Browns and looked overwhelmed on his way to grading at -4.9 on only 22 drop-backs. Despite Manuel’s injury, Tuel has already been replaced by QB Thaddeus Lewis who was signed off the practice squad to take the reins for this weekend’s game against the Bengals.


News and Notes

Alonso Update

There you go Bills fans, after weeks of asking, Kiko Alonso is firmly entrenched in our Race for Rookie of the Year.

Grading Snapshots

It’s no surprise that Peyton Manning is the top-rated quarterback at +22.0. How does this compare to quarterback play in recent years? Here’s a look at some of the top quarterbacks through five weeks:

2012 Tom Brady: +20.8
2012 Peyton Manning: +9.2 (finshed No. 1 overall at +53.7)
2011 Tom Brady: +30.7
2011 Drew Brees: +23.6
2011 Aaron Rodgers: +17.7

DE Demarcus Ware is our No. 3-ranked 4-3 defensive end at +11.3. He’s taken well to the scheme change, though his role on the defense hasn’t really changed a whole lot other than rushing more from a three-point stance. Much was made about his no longer needing to drop into coverage playing in a 4-3 and he’s done so on only eight snaps to this point (3% of the time), but last year he only dropped on 64 snaps (7.1% of the time).

Titans CB Alterraun Verner is quietly leading our coverage grades at +8.5. He’s allowed only 9-of-28 passes to be completed into his coverage for 159 yards and a QB Rating of 12. 9 thanks to his four interceptions.

Programming Note

I joined David Tuchman for this week’s “In the Trenches” podcast. Scroll down for the plugin on the PFF homepage.

Around the Site This Week

•  This week’s Analysis Notebooks include Davis Harris’ tough performance from Monday night and Eli Manning’s interception woes from last night’s game.

•  Your Secret Superstars for Week 5 courtesy of Gordon McGuinness

•  Nathan Jahnke’s 32 Observations focus on receiving numbers this week.

•  Khaled Elsayed ranks all 32 Offensive Lines through five weeks of play.

•  A closer look at Accuracy Percentage per Michael Renner

•  Your Week 6 Three to Focus on previews

•  Your Week 5 Re-Focused game reviews


Final Word

There’s no better place to be on a Monday than the PFF Reaction Blog. The grades and analysis come in throughout the day and the reaction blog is the first place to give you the best and worst from the past week as well as any relevant statistics and snap counts that are found only on PFF.


Follow Steve on Twitter.


| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • a57se

    Most of Geno Smiths’ deep ball accuracy comes from one game and one CB when he got 247 yards vs. Buffalo’s Justin Rogers. I think that is an outlier.