QB Pressure Profiles: AFC East

Steve Palazzolo takes the inspection of QB play under pressure to new depths as his Pressure Profiles series begins in the AFC East.

| 3 years ago
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QB Pressure Profiles: AFC East


We’re back at it again with a deep dive into the PFF Database as we continue to reveal a plethora of numbers regarding pressure and its effect on the quarterback. To recap, in the last few months we’ve looked at pressure’s impact on the passer from different angles and from that data, drew the conclusion that the left tackle might be overrated. From there, we broke it down by quarterback and revealed the league’s best and worst when pressure comes from different places. Now it’s time to take the next step and look at “pressure profiles” for every quarterback in the league.

As always, sample size caveats apply in some cases, but the numbers draw from our five years of data going back to 2008. There are certainly trends for some quarterbacks, while others are a bit more scattershot in their performance when pressure comes from different angles.

When looking at the numbers, keep in mind that PFF Grade is the best indicator of a player’s performance as we isolate the quarterback’s impact on every single play. If he throws a wide receiver screen that goes for an 80-yard touchdown, the numbers will look pretty, but the QB is credited with the same grade he would earn if it was stopped for no gain. Similarly, a perfectly thrown pass that should be a first down but is dropped and intercepted will likely earn a positive grade despite the ugly INT in the stats. All of the stats are nice to get some perspective, but the PFF Grade always trumps as more reliable.

With that said, let’s take a look at the quarterbacks from the AFC East and how they fare under pressure.

 

Kevin Kolb, Buffalo Bills (New)
Strength: RT
Weakness: C

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills (Former)
Strength: RG
Weakness: LG, C, RT

We’ve included a little of the old to go with the new for the Bills, just for comparison sake. Kolb is the favorite to win the starting job, though a first-round investment in QB E.J. Manuel all but ensures that his tenure in Buffalo won’t be long.

When comparing Fitzpatrick to Kolb, the one thing that stands out is Fitzpatrick’s ability to make plays in a clean pocket (+19.7) — though the results immediately become disastrous when pressured (PFF Grade of -62.1 and QB Rating of 39.9).  He hasn’t faced much pressure the past two years behind some quality pass blocking and the quick-hitting nature of the Buffalo offense, but it will come as no surprise to Bills fans that his drop-off was quite drastic in a muddied pocket.

For Kolb, the Arizona Cardinals’ offensive line was not nearly as friendly as he faced pressure on 36 percent of his drop-backs compared to just 28 percent for Fitzpatrick. Kolb fared a little better as he graded at -13.4, but it’s his -6.0 grade from a clean pocket that is most concerning. As we go through this series, we’ll see that the best quarterbacks in the league dominate when given time to throw while simply doing damage control under pressure. Kolb needs to make more plays within the structure of the offense if he’s going to fend off Manuel for the starting spot in Buffalo.

Kolb:

Pressure Dropback Comp% Yds Yds/Att TD INT Sack% Knockdown% PFF Grade QB Rating
ALL 856 59.47% 5195 6.9 28 25 8.9% 14.4% -19.4 78.9
NP 550 62.78% 3769 7.0 16 16 0.0% 0.0% -6.0 81.0
P 306 51.16% 1426 6.6 12 9 24.8% 40.2% -13.4 73.5
LT 52 55.56% 274 7.6 2 1 26.9% 38.5% -0.9 87.0
LG 24 57.14% 141 6.7 1 0 4.2% 8.3% 0.4 93.6
C 16 53.85% 138 10.6 1 1 12.5% 25.0% -2.7 84.8
RG 30 45.00% 61 3.1 2 0 30.0% 50.0% -0.9 85.6
RT 42 56.67% 171 5.7 0 2 23.8% 35.7% 1.1 45.3
TE 10 50.00% 49 8.2 1 1 30.0% 30.0% -0.5 77.8
RB 12 45.45% 67 6.1 1 1 8.3% 16.7% -0.5 57.8
QB 12 20.00% 19 3.8 0 0 50.0% 58.3% -6.5 42.9
MUL 59 48.39% 164 5.3 2 0 40.7% 55.9% -1.2 86.0
UNB 49 50.00% 342 8.1 2 3 12.2% 44.9% -1.7 63.8

Fitzpatrick:

Pressure Dropback Comp% Yds Yds/Att TD INT Sack% Knockdown% PFF Grade QB Rating
ALL 2392 59.70% 13555 6.4 88 73 5.5% 13.1% -42.3 78.0
NP 1720 64.85% 11425 6.9 78 46 0.0% 0.0% 19.7 89.2
P 672 41.54% 2130 4.6 10 27 19.5% 46.6% -62.1 38.8
LT 116 50.62% 393 4.9 4 5 19.8% 45.7% -3.8 55.2
LG 44 34.29% 170 4.9 0 2 13.6% 45.5% -6.0 27.1
C 36 28.00% 105 4.2 0 2 19.4% 52.8% -5.1 11.3
RG 35 52.00% 183 7.3 1 2 17.1% 25.7% 1.4 55.9
RT 120 46.91% 517 6.4 1 5 15.8% 38.3% -9.5 46.2
TE 18 25.00% 17 1.4 0 2 16.7% 50.0% -1.8 0.0
RB 33 18.18% 45 2.0 0 2 21.2% 66.7% -4.5 1.7
QB 16 40.00% 22 4.4 0 0 62.5% 75.0% -6.2 53.8
MULT 88 34.09% 199 4.5 1 2 39.8% 62.5% -9.0 38.0
UNB 166 43.07% 479 3.5 3 5 9.0% 41.0% -17.6 44.6

 

Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
Strength: RT, Unblocked
Weakness: RB

Lost in the mix of outstanding rookie quarterback performances, Tannehill more than held his own in his first season and his handling of pressure is probably the most encouraging sign that he’s the future of the Dolphins franchise. While most quarterbacks wilt, Tannehill graded at +4.6 when pressured, a sign that he is capable of damage control and much more when under heat. Of course it’s only one season and some of these numbers can change very quickly, but it was telling that Tannehill could live up to a lot of pre-draft scouting reports that said he was amongst the best in the draft class at handling pressure in the pocket.

Finding a weakness in his game was difficult and if he continues to maintain his poise while showing an ability to make more plays in the middle of the field, he has a chance to stay right in the middle of the conversation with the other top-notch quarterbacks in the class of 2012.

Pressure Dropback Comp% Yds Yds/Att TD INT Sack% Knockdown% PFF Grade QB Rating
ALL 532 58.26% 3294 6.8 12 13 6.6% 13.3% 13.3 76.1
NP 369 60.77% 2425 6.7 9 9 0.0% 0.0% 8.7 78.6
P 163 50.82% 869 7.1 3 4 21.5% 43.6% 4.6 68.6
LT 33 50.00% 186 7.2 1 0 18.2% 45.5% 0.0 86.4
LG 13 30.00% 39 3.9 0 1 23.1% 69.2% -0.1 3.8
C 5 33.33% 13 4.3 0 1 20.0% 60.0% 0.8 8.3
RG 11 42.86% 50 7.1 1 0 18.2% 36.4% 0.5 107.1
RT 37 62.50% 241 7.5 0 0 10.8% 18.9% 5.8 85.5
TE 2 100.00% 37 18.5 0 0 0.0% 0.0% 0.9 118.8
RB 11 37.50% 42 5.3 1 2 18.2% 27.3% -3.5 55.2
QB 5 0.00% 0 0.0 0 0 60.0% 80.0% -2.2 39.6
MULT 20 37.50% 45 5.6 0 0 60.0% 75.0% -0.4 56.8
UNB 26 58.33% 216 9.0 0 0 7.7% 42.3% 2.8 88.2

 

Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Strength: Edge Pressure
Weakness: Interior Pressure

Here we start to see how the league’s best quarterbacks separate themselves from the rest of the pack. When facing no pressure, Brady has a +123.0 grade and 109.4 QB Rating compared to 15.8 PFF Grade and 71.2 QB Rating when the defense gets to him.  He’s another example of the scouting reports and general perception actually holding water as his -7.9 grade against interior pressure (from LG, C, and RG) is his clear weakness. On the other hand, he holds up extremely well against edge pressure (from LT and RT) as his +8.3 grade in such situations ranks second in the NFL since 2008.

Pressure Dropback Comp% Yds Yds/Att TD INT Sack% Knockdown% PFF Grade QB Rating
ALL 2752 64.58% 20431 7.8 153 47 4.1% 11.0% 107.3 100.6
NP 2021 69.99% 16611 8.3 126 31 0.0% 0.0% 123.0 109.4
P 731 46.60% 3820 6.3 27 16 15.3% 41.6% -15.8 71.2
LT 112 52.63% 801 8.4 5 2 13.4% 32.1% 6.4 89.8
LG 70 42.11% 309 5.4 1 1 14.3% 42.9% 0.3 58.3
C 64 33.33% 298 5.5 1 2 14.1% 37.5% -5.9 43.6
RG 73 43.33% 367 6.1 2 1 15.1% 38.4% -2.3 67.8
RT 122 58.82% 688 6.7 7 2 11.5% 34.4% 1.9 93.9
TE 30 38.46% 255 9.8 2 0 13.3% 40.0% -0.4 100.6
RB 32 48.15% 211 7.8 1 0 15.6% 56.3% 1.5 87.1
QB 17 25.00% 24 3.0 0 0 52.9% 70.6% -5.3 39.6
MULT 113 39.51% 359 4.4 3 3 26.5% 58.4% -7.1 50.4
UNB 98 49.46% 508 5.5 5 5 5.1% 36.7% -5.0 61.6

 

Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
Strengths: None
Weakness: Right Side of Offensive Line

Perception meets reality once again as Sanchez’ clear weakness is pressure from the right side of the offensive line, further validating the calls to upgrade the Jets’ right tackle position in recent years. In fact, 21 percent of his pressure has come from right tackle alone, and he hasn’t handled it well to the tune of a 16.6 PFF Grade that ranks worst in the league. It’s no coincidence that 2010 was Sanchez’ best season, -7.2 overall, as it coincided with Damien Woody’s last year at right tackle (+8.5 Pass Block). Season 2011 saw Wayne Hunter take over the job and the drop-off to his -14.1 Pass Block Grade helped explained Sanchez’ -27.4 overall. Last year was a slight improvement at the right tackle position as Austin Howard took over the job, and, despite some solid run blocking, his -5.1 Pass Block Grade was another factor in Sanchez grading at -22.1 overall.

It’s obviously much more than one position that has made Sanchez a disappointment as he enters his fifth year in the league, but it’s interesting to note that the Jets were unable to patch up the one hole in the offensive line that affects his game the most.

Pressure Dropback Comp% Yds Yds/Att TD INT Sack% Knockdown% PFF Grade QB Rating
ALL 2210 55.54% 13247 6.6 77 72 5.7% 11.9% -61.6 73.5
NP 1608 60.68% 11005 7.0 66 51 0.0% 0.0% 9.3 82.3
P 602 37.75% 2242 4.9 11 21 20.8% 43.5% -70.9 42.9
LT 72 47.46% 430 7.3 3 3 15.3% 34.7% -1.8 67.8
LG 71 46.43% 373 6.7 1 1 18.3% 43.7% -2.7 67.0
C 30 33.33% 100 4.2 1 1 16.7% 33.3% -1.9 43.8
RG 34 33.33% 99 3.3 2 1 8.8% 23.5% -6.0 51.9
RT 124 38.14% 445 4.6 1 3 16.1% 37.1% -16.6 43.5
TE 19 36.36% 48 4.4 0 1 21.1% 42.1% -2.4 12.7
RB 41 29.03% 201 6.5 1 1 22.0% 41.5% -1.4 51.4
QB 27 14.29% 8 0.6 0 2 44.4% 70.4% -13.2 0.0
MULT 81 29.79% 124 2.6 1 5 38.3% 69.1% -16.7 7.1
UNB 103 39.29% 414 4.9 1 3 16.5% 40.8% -8.2 44.4

 

 

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| Senior Analyst

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

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