QBs in Focus: Rodgers, Flynn, Tolzien

Starting into the QBs of the NFC North, Steve Palazzolo opens with a look at the Packer passers from 2013.

| 3 years ago

QBs in Focus: Rodgers, Flynn, Tolzien

qb-month-rodgers-flynn-tolzienThough 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.

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers (2)

Aaron Rodgers (3)

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


•  Among the league’s best on third downs at +9.0.
•  Graded at +7.9 with a league-high 86.8% Accuracy Percentage on throws in the 1-to-10-yard range.
•  Fifth-highest grade on passes of at least 20 yards (+6.4).
•  Graded at +8.5 on passes in between the numbers and +6.2  on passes outside the numbers to the right.
•  Performed well in a clean pocket (+16.8) and was one of only a handful of quarterbacks to grade positively when pressured (+0.7).
•  Graded at +3.9 when pressured from a traditional rush.
•  Showed well on both 4-to-6-yard drops (+8.8) and 7-to-8-yard drops (+8.1).
•  Among the league’s best when getting rid of the ball quickly: Graded at +6.6 on passes lasting two seconds or less, +4.5 on passes in the 2.1-to-2.5-second range.
•  Also performed well when passes last at least 3.6 seconds (+5.0).
•  Among the few quarterbacks to grade positively when facing pressure in less than two seconds (+2.7).
•  Graded at +17.4 when throwing to outside wide receivers (including tight ends and running backs split wide).
•  Graded at +4.0 on slants, +4.5 on hitches, and +8.0 on go routes.


•  Graded at -2.9 with a 39.6 passer rating on designed rollouts
•  Posted a -3.1 grade against blitz pressure.
•  Graded negatively in 2.6-to-3.0-second range (-0.3) and 3.1-3.5 second range (-0.5).
•  Graded at -2.0 on throws to inline tight ends.


•  Broke the pocket on 8.8% of drop-backs, sixth-highest in the league.
•  Used play action on only 20.4% of his first-down drop-backs, well below the league average of 28.1%.
•  Only faced pressure on 28.8% of his drop-backs, third-lowest percentage in the league.
•  Part of the reason he didn’t face much pressure: led the league with 42.9% of drop-backs lasting two seconds or less.
•  Conversely, had the lowest percentage of drop-backs in the 2.1-to-2.5-second range (13.4%) and 2.6-to-3.0-second range (11.9%). Had the 8th-highest percentage of drop-backs last at least 3.6 seconds (23.4%).
•  Faced the blitz only 24.6% of the time, fourth-lowest in the league.
•  When blitzed, it only resulted in pressure 30.9% of the time, third-lowest in the league.
•  Used a 1-to-3-yard drop-back 3.6% of the time (third-highest in the league) and led the league with 38.0% of drop-backs in the 4-6-yard range. Had the lowest percentage of drop-backs of at least 9 yards (6.1% of the time).
•  Threw the fourth-highest percentage of passes in the 21-30-yard range at 10.3% of attempts.
•  Threw only 43.7% of passes in the 1-10-yard range, fourth-lowest in the league.
•  53.6% of passes were thrown outside the numbers, seventh-highest in the league.
•  Only 14.7% of attempts went to running backs, fourth-lowest in the league.
•  16.1% of targets were quick outs, by far the highest percentage in the league.


Matt Flynn

Matt Flynn

Matt Flynn (2)

Matt Flynn (3)All categories with a * are normalized so that the league average is 0.0.


•  Graded at +1.0 on second downs
•  Posted a +1.0 grade on throws of 30 or more yards down field
•  When blitz was picked up, graded at +4.2.
•  Graded at +1.5 on slants and +1.5 on post routes.


•  Graded at -6.1 on first down and -5.0 on third downs.
•  Graded negatively on all passes up to 30 yards including -3.8 in 11-20-yard range.
•  Struggled in a clean pocket (-3.1) and against pressure (-6.7).
•  Graded at -7.5 on 7-to-8-yard drop-backs.
•  Posted lowest grade on passes in the 2.1-to-2.5-second range (-5.0).
•  Graded at -3.5 on hitches and -1.8 on outs.


•  11.5% of targets were slants, third-highest in the league and 14.8% of targets were go routes, fifth-highest in the league.
•  Had second-highest percentage of 4-to-6-yard drop-backs at 37.7%.
•  Third-lowest percentage of drop-backs of at least 9 yards (8.9%).
•  Faced pressure only 29.7% of the time, fifth-lowest in the league.


Scott Tolzien

Scott Tolzien

Scott Tolzien (2)

Scott Tolzien (3)All categories with a * are normalized so that the league average is 0.0.


•  Graded at +3.1 on throws of at least 20 yards.
•  Graded at +2.7 on throws outside the numbers to the right.


•  Graded at -4.2 on passes lasting only two seconds or less.
•  Struggled on throws to inline tight ends (-2.4).
•  Graded at -3.2 on passes in the 1-10-yard range.


•  Faced pressure on only 27.6% of drop-backs.
•  Faced the blitz only 24.5% of the time.
•  38.8% of passes lasted two seconds or less.


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.

  • mutzki

    It is a joy to watch Aaron Rodgers play. The way he handles pressure, making subtle moves to avoid rushers that are coming at him is incredible. He’s one of the best, hands down!

    • Junior Taylor

      Wholeheartedly agree, Remember when everyone’s panties were in a bunch when they got rid of Farve for AR? The Packers front office has done as great a job as anyone scouting players.

      • Ryan

        What does getting AR have to do with scouting? Prior to the draft he was supposed to go possibly #1 overall. It not like he was a UDFA that the scouts saw potential in.

  • WorkinJoe

    The Packers offense finished third in total yards last year with the Wallace Tolzien Flynn triumvirate starting half the games and playing rather mediocre football. If Rodgers starts all 16 with a greatly improved running game, they could put up yards and points like the recent 15-1 squad.

  • Sven

    It is amazing that all the stats listed tell us one thing and the PFF will give a different result. This is especially true with AR. PFF seem less reliable a grading system, and more difficult to decipher than QBR, and over the years has not met the eye ball test. There is too much room for an evaluator’s opinion of a player to be reflected in the PFF. I love the data of this site, especially the QBs, but there is little doubt, in my mind that PFF grade is a red herring more than anything.