QBs in Focus: Joe Flacco

Steve Palazzolo kicks off his look at the AFC North QBs by digging into Joe Flacco's numbers.

| 3 years ago

QBs in Focus: Joe Flacco

qb-month-flaccoThough 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.

After taking a look at the entire league in various situations, it’s time to break down each quarterback individually.

Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco (2)

Joe Flacco (3)

All categories with a * are normalized so that the league average is 0.0.


•  Graded at +5.2 on 2nd-and-medium
•  Showed well on designed rollouts (+2.2), which should bode well for the Ravens’ new offense.
•  Graded at +0.4 when throwing between the numbers.
•  Graded at +3.4 when using play action.
•  Third-highest grade when throwing hitch routes (+8.2) and showed well on post routes (+5.5).


•  Graded at -6.5 on third downs, including -5.3 on 3rd-and-10+ and -5.5 on 3rd-and-long.
•  Struggled on throws in the 11-to-20-yard range (-6.1) as well as the 21-to-30-yard range (-5.9).
•  Third-lowest grade when pressured (-18.5).
•  Graded at -6.0 on passes thrown outside the numbers to the left.
•  Second-lowest grade on drop-backs of at least 9 yards (-10.1).
•  Struggled on passes lasting 3.1 to 3.5 seconds (-7.7).
•  Graded at -17.2 when not using play action.
•  Graded at -6.4 when throwing to running backs including a -3.2 grade when throwing to running backs in the slot.
•  Graded at -17.7 against five or more defensive backs.
•  Ranked last with a -6.5 grade on crossing routes and graded at -3.3 on go routes.


•  86.6% of drop-backs came out of the shotgun or pistol; third-highest in the league.
•  Broke the pocket 8.0% of the time; seventh-highest in the league.
•  Threw 15.1% of passes beyond 20 yards in the air; eighth-highest in the league.
•  Threw 28.3% of passes outside the numbers to the right compared to only 20.6% of passes outside the numbers to the left.
•  60.9% of drop-backs in the 7-to-8-yard range; fourth-highest in the league.
•  Used play action only 13.3% of the time; third-lowest in the league.
•  Faced five or more defensive backs 85.1% of the time; well above the league average of 70.0%.
•  Only 5.3% of drop-backs were screens; fourth-lowest in the league.
•  1.5% of drop-backs were wide receiver screens, also fourth-lowest in the league.
•  Only 4.1% of attempts were slant routes (third-lowest in the league), and given his arm strength, surprising to see him throw a league-low 0.3% comeback routes.


For the entire set of “Quarterbacks 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.

  • JonLee


    • Shawn Blake

      HA! That made me laugh

    • Mr.Lane

      He’s not elite, but he had a garbage o-line and play caller. He had as many 20+ yard runs as his RBs

      • Bill Doerr

        He will have a garbage OC again this season. Kubiaks offense is terrible & extremely predictable.

    • JJ

      Kiss the ring

  • Bill Doerr

    I think the Ravens are really regretting signing signing Flacco to that huge deal. Outside of his great 2012 playoff run , he has been no better than average since coming into the NFL. Last season he was well below average . A 20 million+ dollar QB though rarely throws less than 20TDs & most definitely doesn’t throw for more INTs than TDs. Bringing in Kubiak whose offense sucks & is extremely predictable. Flacco was so horrible in 2013 he may “improve” this season to say his normal 21TD-15INTs, 84 QB passer ratimg.but with Flacco at QB & Kubiak running the offense isnt going to make Baltimores offense step up & become the top 10 offense they need it. They are going to be finishing 7-9 or 8-8 & out the playoffs again for sure.

    • Jeremy

      Flacco doesn’t have to be a great QB because he plays for Baltimore. He just has to be solid and come through
      when you need him. Cam Cameron’s playcalling is like Kubiaks, very conventional, which Flacco did ok in. They won’t be a top 10 offense, but they will make the playoffs because they have a good defense and a solid offense.

      • James

        So why not just get a cheaper “ok” qb and use the extra money to build your roster? Flacco’s contract is just terrible. He will never earn that money.

        • Jeremy

          The Ravens originally wanted to sign him for 16 mil a year, but Flacco refused, so to keep him (other QB needy teams could have paid as much and the QB draft class that year was terrible) we had to pay that much for him.