QB Pressure Profiles: AFC North

The AFC North's quarterbacks are next up in Steve Palazzolo's QB-by-QB look at performance under pressure.

| 3 years ago
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QB Pressure Profiles: AFC North


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 PFF Grade always trumps as more reliable.

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

 

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Strength: Interior Pressure
Weakness: Unblocked, Left Tackle

Flacco has always looked uncomfortable against unblocked pressure and the numbers back up my inquisitive tweet from last December. As it turns out, he’s second-worst in the league against free rushers as his -15.6 grade ranks just ahead of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Perhaps it’s partially the offensive system focused on throwing the ball down the field or maybe it’s Flacco’s being handcuffed with regard to pre-snap audibles in his early years, but he’s certainly not at his best in the quick game throwing hot routes against unblocked blitzers.

Flacco’s other weakness is pressure from left tackle, a position the Ravens shored up with the addition of Bryant McKinnie to the starting lineup during last year’s Super Bowl run. The only positives in the chart appear on the interior as Flacco grades at +1.9 when pressure comes from LG, C and RG.

PressureDrop-backsComp%YdsYds/AttTDINTSack%Knock-down%PFF GradeQB Rating
ALL313059.87%203917.1122646.5%14.0%41.686.5
NP215364.80%162337.692420.0%0.0%95.094.2
P97745.75%41585.6302220.7%44.9%-53.564.7
LT14649.11%6105.44620.5%45.2%-6.155.3
LG9850.65%5056.63118.4%42.9%1.079.2
C5654.55%3357.62214.3%37.5%0.075.5
RG8053.23%61710.03118.8%37.5%0.997.3
RT13553.27%6686.27215.6%30.4%-0.186.5
TE3144.00%1345.41116.1%25.8%-3.957.8
RB8237.74%2955.62032.9%52.4%-4.769.3
QB4020.00%422.10147.5%75.0%-12.318.8
MULT12034.29%1982.81236.7%66.7%-12.536.0
UNB18942.11%7544.4767.9%41.3%-15.654.6

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Strength: RT
Weakness: QB

Dalton doesn’t have a glaring weakness as he struggles against all kinds of pressure, and he’s been responsible for nine sacks in a clean pocket in his two years in the league  (including seven last season), leading to a -4.6 grade when pressure is brought upon himself. Though the raw numbers look ugly, Dalton has done his best work when pressure comes from right tackle at +1.3. For Dalton to take the next step in his third season he needs to show some improvement when under heat (-15.8) while taking better advantage of his opportunities when well-protected (+6.4).

PressureDrop-backsComp%YdsYds/AttTDINTSack%Knock-down%PFF GradeQB Rating
ALL123960.04%74516.747336.1%11.0%-9.481.6
NP92564.79%62636.940260.0%0.0%6.487.6
P31439.52%11885.77723.9%43.3%-15.855.8
LT2850.00%754.20028.6%39.3%-1.361.1
LG3532.00%1255.02020.0%45.7%-1.176.3
C2950.00%845.30127.6%44.8%0.239.6
RG3644.44%2178.01113.9%27.8%-1.169.5
RT4834.38%1294.00114.6%35.4%1.334.5
TE1727.27%635.70029.4%52.9%1.750.9
RB2135.71%785.61228.6%66.7%-3.539.3
QB130.00%00.00069.2%76.9%-4.639.6
MUL3147.06%1066.21141.9%51.6%-1.462.4
UNB5639.58%3116.52112.5%35.7%-6.067.3

 

Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
Strength: C
Weakness: Right side pressure

It was a rough rookie season for Weeden who finished as our lowest-ranked quarterback at -30.0, and it really didn’t matter whether or opposing defenses got to him or not. He was actually slightly better when pressured at -13.6, but it’s only because he was so poor when given time (-14.3). Though he faced only eight pressures that came through the center, it was the one spot he handled well as he completed 5-of-6 for 56 yards and a +1.3 grade. Weeden will need to show improvement in all areas if he’s going to prove his worth as the Browns’ quarterback of the future.

PressureDrop-backsComp%YdsYds/AttTDINTSack%Knock-down%PFF GradeQB Rating
ALL55957.45%33856.514174.8%14.7%-27.972.6
NP40362.28%27997.112100.0%0.0%-14.383.1
P15641.80%5864.82717.3%52.6%-13.638.5
LT942.86%172.40011.1%55.6%-2.450.3
LG1533.33%563.7000.0%53.3%0.345.4
C883.33%569.31012.5%37.5%1.6145.1
RG2135.00%1005.0134.8%52.4%-3.029.2
RT2347.06%754.40117.4%43.5%-3.535.2
TE70.00%00.00028.6%42.9%-0.839.6
RB1536.36%534.80020.0%53.3%0.352.5
QB50.00%00.00060.0%60.0%-1.239.6
MUL1442.86%334.70142.9%64.3%-2.617.9
UNB3948.48%1965.90215.4%56.4%-2.342.0

 

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Strength: Interior Pressure
Weakness: RT

While most quarterbacks are wilting when the pressure comes from the interior (LG-C-RG), Roethlisberger’s PFF Grade ranks second in the league since 2008 in such situations. Right tackle pressure is a different story as he grades at -6.7 though a return to health for starting RT Marcus Gilbert should help the cause. When Roethlisberger plays, you may hear announcers lauding his ability under pressure and possibly even state that he’s better while under heat, but don’t be fooled, Roethlisberger’s +107.0 grade without pressure is one of the best in the league since 2008. He’s near the top when pressured as well, but as is usually is the case, playing from a clean pocket is the preferred choice.

PressureDrop-backsComp%YdsYds/AttTDINTSack%Knock-down%PFF GradeQB Rating
ALL284862.67%197817.8115607.7%14.5%109.491.9
NP191366.26%150918.085390.0%0.0%107.097.3
P93552.62%46907.0302123.5%44.1%2.577.0
LT14754.05%8057.37820.4%42.2%2.868.3
LG10450.62%6077.54216.3%36.5%4.881.7
C7260.78%3917.72218.1%44.4%1.781.4
RG9951.25%5887.43215.2%27.3%7.077.5
RT9352.46%3876.32426.9%45.2%-6.755.8
TE2754.55%26612.13011.1%29.6%2.8137.5
RB4145.45%2989.00114.6%39.0%6.165.0
QB3145.45%736.61061.3%71.0%-9.497.9
MUL15842.17%4315.20143.0%62.0%-7.253.8
UNB16358.82%8446.28114.7%41.1%0.693.5

 

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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.

  • Braden

    How are you configuring those stats? For example, Roethlisberger has thrown for 17,774 yards since 2008 but you have given him an additional 7 yards. With Flacco, you have given him an additional 86 yards. Where do you come up with the arbitrary additional yardage add?

  • Braden

    Also, are suggesting that Dalton has faced no unblocked pressures in two seasons? This is a great foundation, just needs a little clean up, and I would be willing to help with that. I like what you are putting together, although I would have a little bit of a contrarian analysis.