QBs in Focus: Deep Passing

Next up in the series of QB breakdowns is Steve Palazolo's look at deep passing attempts and grades for 2014.

| 2 years ago

QBs in Focus: Deep Passing

QBs-in-focus-deepWe had some fun last summer breaking down quarterback play from every angle, so we’ve decided to dig into the database again to review the 2014 season. One of the beauties of collecting data on every play of the season is the ability to then isolate each player’s strengths and weaknesses. This series will take a look at how quarterbacks performed in various situations, looking beyond just the overall grades that are posted on the site.

As always with PFF grades, it’s important to remember that we are isolating the quarterback’s role in the play from everyone else. We are evaluating the decision making and the throw, not necessarily the result. A great pass that gets dropped by a receiver receives the same credit it would have if the pass was caught, while an ill-advised pass into coverage that is dropped by a linebacker is downgraded as if it was intercepted. It’s important to remember this distinction when diving into the grades.

Short and intermediate passing already shown, here’s a look at how quarterbacks fared in the deep passing game in 2014.

*Minimum 200 drop-backs to qualify
*Playoffs Included
*All grades are normalized so that the NFL average is 0 for each category.

QB 2130 pct

– The 21-30 yard range is essentially the border between an intermediate and a deep pass, and there are a number of different types of throws than can be made at this range.

– Alex Smith threw only 2.5% of his passes at this range, just above Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill.

QB 21-30 grade

– Despite throwing the second-highest percentage of passes in this range, Colin Kaepernick ranked sixth from the bottom in the grading.

– It was a dominant effort from Tony Romo at 21-30 yards despite only a league-average 6.9% of his throws in this range.

– Teddy Bridgewater makes his second appearance at second overall (11-20 yard range), as he made the most of his 21-30 yard throws.

QB 31-40 pct

– Mike Glennon tops the list in both the 21-30 yard and the 31-40 yard ranges while teammate Josh McCown comes in right behind him with 5.1% of his passes at 31-40 yards.

– Perhaps surprising to see Eagles QB Mark Sanchez at the bottom of this list given the Eagles’ affection for the vertical passing game.

QB 31-40 grade

– Yet another place where Aaron Rodgers was the best in the league, he also topped the grading list in the 1-10 yard range.

– And here is where Bridgewater struggled as he ranked last at 31-40 yards with fellow rookie, Derek Carr, helping to round out the bottom three.

QB 40plus pct

– Not only did Drew Stanton throw the highest percentage of passes at 40+ yards but he also topped the grading at +3.4.

– Though Joe Flacco threw low percentages in the 21-40 yard range, the Ravens still let him unleash the deep bomb for which he’s known.

– Only 0.2% of Alex Smith’s passes traveled beyond 40 yards, with Peyton Manning just behind him at 0.5 percent.

QB 40plus grade

– Surprising top of the list as Drew Stanton, Josh McCown, and Robert Griffin III posted the highest grades at 40+ yards.

– Brian Hoyer threw the fourth-highest percentage of 40+ yard passes but his -3.2 grade ranked last.


Follow Steve on Twitter: @PFF_Steve


| Senior Analyst

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

  • Jason Williams

    Wow. I had no idea Jay’s season was that bad last year.

    • Tim Edell

      Huh?? You don’t get benched for Jimmy Clausen for playing well!!!

      • Jason Williams

        that’s true.

    • Riffle,Rod&Fly

      Can we just be happy that the Blackhawks are gods and let the Bears continue to squander their tremendous fan support like the Cubs?

      • Riffle,Rod&Fly

        …ticket prices go up, performance continues to go down

      • Jason Williams

        both bears and cubs have shown signs of getting their shit together over the past few years. The NFL is a bit of a crap shoot because there are not enough elite QB’s to go around and getting one is a total lottery. MLB just requires a disciplined and patient approach which the Cubs have shown in spades.

        • FishersStache

          Losing for a very very long time = discipline and patient?

          • Jason Williams

            way to stay current and informed

        • corners

          most of those elite qb’s are probably pitching in MLB baseball.Wayyyyyyyy More money, less work and much longer careers

  • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

    finally, a chart where peyton is in the green ;( lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/jaterrance.young JaTerrance Dwayne Young

    Is there a way for all these grades to be combined to get a better indicator of the total deep passing grades

    • Kevin

      Just add them up. Nothing crazy going on so simple addition will do the trick.

      • PetEng

        Wouldn’t you have to weight by attempt frequency?

        6.8%, 3.3%, 2.1%

  • Skins4lifeGarrett

    So basically get RG 3 a better oline and running game, then just let him throw deep. Keep him away from short/medium passes.

    • corners

      his oline was only part of the problem, he created a lot of his own problems. If you dont let him do what he wants, hes not a good qb and gets hurt too much. He cant read defenses and he cant throw from the pocket. For a qb thats getting slower, thats very bad news.

  • Jaguars28

    Which team does this “NFL” guy play on? Seems like a very average QB to me.

    • DRH

      And he is blowing Blake Bortles out of the water too.

      Maybe that is why they left him off the 40+ grade chart?

  • edromeo

    I can’t find Robert Griffin and Kirk Cousins PFF rankings for 21-30 yards or 31-40 yards