QBs in Focus: by Quarter

This installment of Steve Palazzolo's QB breakdowns has the league's passers split out by their performance in each quarter and half.

| 3 years ago

QBs in Focus: by Quarter

qb-month-quarterThough we certainly miss football during the offseason, it’s always a good time to take a step back and analyze our plethora of data.

We’re often so busy grading and collecting data during the season that we’re unable to put a lot of the information to good use. With that said, we’ve decided to declare June as “QB Month” as we break down NFL quarterbacks every which way.

We’re going to examine quarterbacks from a number of situations before looking at each of them individually. The grades and numbers should reveal each quarterback’s strengths and weaknesses from the 2013 season.

As we go through this series, it’s important to understand the relationship between QB Rating (NFL’s version) and PFF Grade.

While QB Rating is obviously supposed to be a QB statistic, it’s actually a better gauge of what the entire offense did in a given situation. This is the type of information that is actually extremely valuable to our NFL team customers as their game planning efforts must go towards stopping an entire passing offense, not just the quarterback.

 If the quarterback throws an easy dump off pass to the RB who then weaves through the defense for the touchdown, it’s certainly not a great indicator of quarterbacking skill as it is the running back and defense accounting for the majority of the work on the play. Of course the QB Rating will look quite shiny in that situation.

On the other hand, PFF Grade is a good indicator of how well the quarterback actually performed in a given situation. Whether they throw an accurate pass that was dropped, or perhaps an inaccurate one that should have been intercepted and the defense dropped, the PFF grade will account for those situations with a positive and a negative grade respectively while QB Rating will simply reflect the 0-for-1 passing.

It’s important to distinguish between QB Rating and PFF grade, though there’s a good chance they’ll match up in most situations.

1st Quarter

1st Quarter1st Quarter (2)

•  The first quarter features the lowest average depth of target at 8.0.

•  Russell Wilson was by far at his worst in the first quarter (-9.1), as he graded among the top seven quarterbacks in all other quarters

•  Andrew Luck led the league with 170 first-quarter drop-backs, perhaps debunking the myth that the Colts were a conservative, establish-the-run type of team


2nd Quarter

2nd Quarter

2nd Quarter (2)

•  Wilson made huge strides in the second quarter, leading the league at +18.0.

•  Joe Flacco ranked last in both first quarter (-9.6) and second quarter (-10.0) grade

•  Drew Brees led the league with 201 second-quarter drop-backs and he made the most of them as he also led in QB Rating (126.4), TD% (9.7%), completion percentage (70.4%) while ranking second at +12.9.


3rd Quarter

3rd Quarter

3rd Quarter (2)

•  Flacco bounced back nicely in the third quarter at +7.7.

•  Andy Dalton led the league with 187 third quarter drop-backs on his way to a stellar +5.5 grade.

•  Terrelle Pryor ranked second form the bottom at -6.6, but his 8.8 YAC/completion led the league.


4th Quarter

4th Quarter_OT

4th Quarter_OT (2)

•  Tom Brady’s grade reflects some of the Patriots’ fourth-quarter magic as he tied for the top grade along with Jay Cutler (+11.0).

•  Perhaps the most-discussed fourth-quarter QB, Tony Romo, graded at +6.3.

•  Matt Ryan’s 238 fourth-quarter drop-backs led the way, not surprising given how often the Falcons trailed last season.


1st Half

1st Half

1st Half (2)


2nd Half

2nd Half2nd Half (2)


For the entire set of “QBs in Focus” posts, click here.


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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.

  • Albert

    So really most of the criticism toward Tony Romo is just the media starting a fire then continually adding fuel to it. There are far worse quarterbacks in “clutch” situations.

    • Pygskyn

      Kind of… It’s important to note that much of the criticism of Romo comes from 2 situations which people classify as clutch.
      1.) Important games (where the season is on the line AKA: Playoffs or Elimination games)
      2.) Final drives of the game.
      Without seeing the hard data on how he actually did in those two situations, I’m not going to say wether perception is reality or not in the case of Romo, but his 4th quarter numbers as a whole don’t clear him by themselves.

  • a57se

    Looking at these rankings, Geno Smith is pretty much at the bottom of the league yet on the Jets Depth Chart you show him as ‘below average’. Shouldn’t he be in the poor category?