QBs in Focus: Drop-back, Rollout, Scramble

Today's look at the QB numbers is focused on drop-back types and which QB's perform best when rolling out or scrambling.

| 3 years ago

QBs in Focus: Drop-back, Rollout, Scramble

qb-month-dropbackThough 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.


A few definitions:

Standard Drop: Pass starts, and remains, in a traditional pocket

Scramble: Pass can start either as a standard drop or a rollout, but the QB is either forced to move left or right due to pressure, perceived pressure, or his own volition.

Rollout (boot): Pass is designed to roll the quarterback and the pocket. This is a play that is called in the huddle, not movement that is caused by the defense or the quarterback’s decision making.


Standard Drop

Standard Drop No Scramble

Standard Drop No Scramble (2)

•  No surprise to see Tom Brady and Peyton Manning lead the league with the most dropbacks that started and stayed in the pocket.

•  Perhaps most noteworthy is Andy Dalton’s +13.0 grade that ranks eighth overall in the pocket. His scramble numbers really hurt.

•  Russell Wilson is clearly the league’s best when scrambling, but he’s still efficient in the pocket ranking ninth in PFF grade at +12.2.




Scrambles (2)

•  Wilson led the league in both scrambles and designed rollouts, and he was quite good at both, grading at +9.9 and +4.7respectively.

•  E.J. Manuel was disastrous as a passer when scrambling as his 14.6 rating reflects his league-worst -7.2 PFF grade on only 15 attempts.

•  Terrelle Pryor is known as a dual-threat quarterback but he also struggled outside the pocket with a -7.0 grade and matching 39.0 QB Rating.

•  Manning and Brady didn’t even have enough scrambles to qualify for the list as Manning had 16 passes outside the pocket for a -0.7 grade and Brady was 0-for-4 with a -1.2 grade.




Rollouts (2)

•  Surprising to see Aaron Rodgers so low on the list at -2.9, especially given how well he usually throws the ball on the run.

•  Pryor again finds himself at the bottom of the list, showing he might not be a great passer on the move.

•  Matt Cassel’s numbers show the disconnect between grade and rating as he graded sixth-worst at -1.4, but benefitted from a league-high 11.7 YAC/completion to post the 132.3 QB Rating.

•  Ryan Tannehill showed well in the rollout game with a +3.7 grade and four touchdowns.

•  Peyton Manning likes to pull out the boot game on the goal line and his average depth of target reflects that trend as it came in at only 1.6.


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


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.

  • PaulK2

    Different coaches have different measuring sticks, and their measuring sticks may not be your measuring stick. If Tom Brady is up 21 points in the fourth quarter, on third and 11, and he throws a 1 yard pass which keeps the clock moving or if he throws the pass where only the receiver has a 50% chance of catching up to it, Coach Belichick probably isn’t too displeased.

    • Jesse Reynolds

      In your example I’m not sure what coach wouldn’t want the completed pass and the clock running. But how do you measure these moments? These analysis are more micro then anything anyone else is putting out. So, what is there to complain about?

    • [email protected]

      Its hardly an insult to say that Russell Wilson is better at Rollouts and Scrambles than Tom Brady.