QBs in Focus: Manuel & Lewis

Kicking off the AFC's group of passers, the Bills' EJ Manuel and Thad Lewis get the first look from Steve Palazzolo.

| 3 years ago

QBs in Focus: Manuel & Lewis

qb-month-manuel-lewisThough 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.

E.J. Manuel

EJ Manuel

EJ Manuel (2)

EJ Manuel (3)

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


•  Graded well on 2nd-and-short (+2.8) and 3rd-and-short (+2.3).
•  Posted positive grade on designed rollouts (+0.6).
•  Graded at +0.3 on drop-backs of at least nine yards.
•  Showed well on passes to the slot (by alignment) at +3.1 and graded at +2.0 on throws to inline tight ends.
•  Best routes were crossing routes (+1.5), corner routes (+1.7), and post routes (+2.4).


•  Graded at -9.4 on second down, including -10.7 on 2nd-and-long
•  Struggled on passes thrown at least 20 yards in the air (-9.1).
•  Graded at -8.2 on passes thrown outside the numbers to the right.
•  One of the league’s lowest grades in a clean pocket (-5.1).
•  Graded at -8.9 on 4-to-6-yard drop-backs and -7.1 on 7-to-8-yard drop-backs.
•  Struggled on passes to outside receivers (-12.3).
•  Second-lowest grade on go routes at -7.7.


•  Above the league average in designed rollouts (5.6%) and plays that broke out of the pocket (7.5%).
•  54% of passes were thrown in the 1-to-10-yard range; fourth-highest in the league.
•  Threw only 16.8% of passes in the 11-to-20-yard range; second-lowest in the league.
•  Faced pressure only 32% of the time; seventh-lowest in the league.
•  Was blitzed only 24.0% of the time; second-lowest in the league.
•  58.8% of drop-backs were in the 7-to-8-yard drop-back range; seventh-highest in the league.
•  Used play action 17.0% of the time; below the league average of 21.0%.
•  Threw only 58.4% of passes to wide receivers (by alignment), well below the league average of 72.4%.
•  Threw only 32.6% of passes to outside wide receivers (league average: 40.2%).
•  17.9% of attempts went to running backs on non-screens, second-highest in the league.
•  Threw screens on only 6.5% of drop-backs. Was above the league average with 5.2% of attempts going to running backs on screens, but only 1.4% of attempts went to wide receivers on screens, third-lowest in the league.


Thaddeus Lewis

Thaddeus Lewis

Thaddeus Lewis (2)

Thaddeus Lewis (3)

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


•  Graded at +0.2 on 3rd-and-10+
•  Graded at +2.9 on passes in 1-to-10-yard range and +1.4 on passes thrown at least 30 yards in the air.
•  Showed well on passes in between the numbers (+1.1) and passes outside the numbers to the right (+0.9).
•  Performed well against third down blitzes (+4.4).
•  Graded at +2.8 on passes lasting 2.6-3.0 seconds.
•  Graded at +5.3 when throwing to tight ends (all attempts to inline tight ends).
•  Graded at +4.4 on go routes.


•  Graded at -7.4 against pressure.
•  Struggled on throws in the 11-to-20-yard range (-2.3).
•  Graded at -5.6 against a traditional rush.
•  Struggled on 7-to-8-yard drop-backs (-3.2) and drop-backs of 9 or more yards (-1.8).
•  Graded at -4.0 when using play action.
•  Graded at -2.1 on passes in the 2.1-to-2.5-second range, -2.7 in 3.1-to-3.5-second range, and -2.2 on passes lasting at least 3.6 seconds.
•  Graded negatively on comebacks (-0.6) and hitches (-0.3).


•  Only blitzed 27.7% of the time; below the league average of 30.8 percent
•  83.2% of drop-backs came out of the shotgun; above the league average of 75.1%.
•  Only 19.0% of drop-backs lasted two seconds or less; well below the league average of 26.4%.
•  Threw an extremely high percentage of passes in the 2.1-to-2.5-second range (37.0%).
•  Like Manuel, threw a very low percentage of passes to wide receivers (by alignment) at 55.0%.
•  27.8% of passes wen to running backs (league average: 19.6%), almost all of which came when they were lined up in the backfield (27.2%).
•  11.3% of attempts were running back screens, well above the league average of 3.8%, but like Manuel, threw a very low percentage of wide receiver screens (1.3%).


For the entire set of “Quarterbacks 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.

  • LIMetfan22

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