Sig Stat: Accuracy % Breakdown

Gordon McGuinness digs into the league's most and least accurate passers in 2013, discussing the top and bottom of each Accuracy Percentage category.

| 3 years ago

Sig Stat: Accuracy % Breakdown

2013-final-ACCPCTAt Pro Football Focus, our Signature Stats are built from the stats we collect while grading each game. In turn, we’re able to provide our Premium Stats subscribers with some advanced numbers that give a clearer picture of certain aspects of a player’s game than regular box score stats can provide.

In this scan through one of our most popular Signature Stats, we’re looking at quarterback accuracy, breaking it down into three categories: Overall Accuracy Percentage, Acc% on deep attempts, and Acc% when under pressure.

Our Accuracy Percentage stat goes beyond your standard quarterback completion percentage, taking into account dropped passes, throw aways, spiked balls, batted passes and passes where the quarterback was hit while attempting to throw.

So, with all that in mind, here is our look at quarterback accuracy around the league.

Accuracy Percentage

The Top 10

The best of the best in terms of Accuracy Percentage features some of the players you’d expect to find at the top of this list, and a few who come as a bit of a surprise. Leading the way among the 41 QBs who surpassed the 175 drop-back mark to qualify is Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, accurate on 79.3% of his passes after finishing second in 2012 with 80.2%. That’s impressively consistent from the Packers’ signal caller, and he’s joined inside the Top 10 by backup Matt Flynn who, despite his struggles, managed to be accurate on 74.7% of his passes, tied with Ben Roethlisberger and Sam Bradford for the seventh-best mark in 2013.

Name Team Accuracy %
Aaron Rodgers GB 79.3%
Philip Rivers SD 78.7%
Matt Ryan ATL 78.4%
Josh McCown CHI 77.8%
Peyton Manning DEN 77.0%
Drew Brees NO 77.0%
Sam Bradford STL 74.7%
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 74.7%
Matt Flynn GB 74.7%
Nick Foles PHI 74.2%

Ever prominent atop most quarterback rankings regardless of which stat you’re looking at, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning were tied for fifth with an Acc% of 77.0%, with Manning seeing 6.5% of his catchable passes dropped by receivers. In fourth we have Josh McCown, highlighting his impressive season and something that will surely catch the attention of teams looking for a quarterback this offseason while Matt Ryan, much maligned for a midseason slump, was still in the Top 3.

The Bottom 10

Like the Top 10, the Bottom 10 won’t come as much of a shock to anyone who watched these quarterbacks play in 2013. Oakland’s Matthew McGloin was at the bottom of the pile with an Acc% of just 66.5%, and he was joined in the lower group, sadly for Raiders fans, by teammate Terrelle Pryor.

Name Team Accuracy %
 Kellen Clemens STL 68.7%
 E.J. Manuel BUF 68.4%
 Terrelle Pryor OAK 68.3%
 Brandon Weeden CLV 68.2%
 Joe Flacco BLT 67.8%
 Thaddeus Lewis BUF 67.5%
 Case Keenum HST 67.5%
 Geno Smith NYJ 67.4%
 Eli Manning NYG 67.2%
 Matthew McGloin OAK 66.5%

High profile signal-callers in the Bottom 10 include former Super Bowl MVP’s Joe Flacco and Eli Manning, with neither justifying their lofty contracts in 2013. Neither come as too much of a surprise, however, with Flacco having the sixth-worst mark in 2012, and Manning 11th from the bottom.

AFC East rookies Geno Smith and E.J. Manuel find themselves here too, an indication of their struggles in their first seasons in the league, but Smith improved as the year went on and Manuel saw his season interrupted by injury, so there will be an expectation that both can lift themselves higher in 2014.

Acc%: Deep Passing

The Top 10

Deep Accuracy gives a good indication of which quarterbacks were most accurate challenging defenses downfield and, with a big start in limited action in Houston, Case Keenum tops the list with a Deep Acc% of 53.1%. Rodgers is once again amongst the best here, as the only quarterback other than Keenum to finish above 50%. Super Bowl QBs Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning round out the Top 5 along with the surprise inclusion of Kellen Clemens.

Name Team Deep Acc. %
 Case Keenum HST 53.1%
 Aaron Rodgers GB 52.8%
 Russell Wilson SEA 48.3%
 Peyton Manning DEN 48.2%
 Kellen Clemens STL 48.0%
 Matt Cassel MIN 47.4%
 Geno Smith NYJ 46.7%
 Alex D. Smith KC 46.3%
 Matthew McGloin OAK 45.7%
 Mike Glennon TB 45.0%

Despite his poor overall accuracy, Geno Smith was seventh-best on deep throws, completing 46.7% of passes 20 yards or more downfield, though that did come with seven interceptions — the only player in the Top 10 to throw more interceptions than touchdowns. He’s joined by fellow rookie Mike Glennon who finishes the Top 10 at 45.0%, but had the best touchdown-to-interception ratio among them with seven TDs and just one INT.

The Bottom 10

Highlighting the myth about Flacco’s arm, the Ravens’ signal caller had the second worst Deep Accuracy of any quarterback in 2013, and had just one touchdown and eight interceptions. This comes a year after his 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions lead to claims that he was the best deep thrower in the league, despite finishing 18th with a Deep Acc% of 40.2% in 2012. Still, his accuracy on deep passes dropped by 14.1% in 2013, with only Jake Locker (23.3%) finishing with a lower mark.

Name Team Deep Acc. %
 E.J. Manuel BUF 34.1%
 Ryan Tannehill MIA 32.8%
 Cam Newton CAR 31.3%
 Carson Palmer ARZ 31.1%
 Chad Henne JAX 30.8%
 Robert Griffin III WAS 30.4%
 Terrelle Pryor OAK 30.0%
 Jason Campbell CLV 29.4%
 Joe Flacco BLT 26.1%
 Jake Locker TEN 23.3%

Robert Griffin III finished with the fifth-worst mark in his second year after coming in as the fifth best a year ago — a drop of 19.6% as he heads into a key season in his development. Unlike fellow rookie Smith, Manuel wasn’t able to balance out poor overall accuracy with a good showing on deep throws, rounding out the Bottom 10 in his first season. Carson Palmer also features here, completing just 31.1% of his deep passes and was the tied with Flacco for the most interceptions.

Acc%: Under Pressure

Top 10

It’s the tale of two injury replacement in the NFC North at the top here, with free agents-to-be McCown and Flynn at the top of the table. They’re joined in the first five by Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning, which hardly comes as a surprise. The Top 5 ends with a Ryan Fitzpatrick sighting and all five were accurate on at least 68.5% of their throws while under pressure.

Name Team Under Pressure Acc. %
 Josh McCown CHI 77.0%
 Matt Flynn GB 72.7%
 Philip Rivers SD 69.9%
 Peyton Manning DEN 69.0%
 Ryan Fitzpatrick TEN 68.5%
 Matt Ryan ATL 68.2%
 Nick Foles PHI 68.1%
 Christian Ponder MIN 67.7%
 Cam Newton CAR 66.4%
 Chad Henne JAX 65.2%

Once again Ryan features in the Top 10, giving Falcons fans plenty of reason to believe that his drop in play was nothing more than a minor blip, while Eagles fans will be pleased to see Nick Foles make an appearance after a successful first stint as a starter under Chip Kelly. Christian Ponder and Chad Henne performed well here despite struggling in general, while Cam Newton threw the most touchdowns under pressure of players in this group with nine.

The Bottom 10

The theme for the Bottom 10 here seems to be inexperience, with most of the players here still fairly young in their careers. Nobody struggled under pressure as much as Buffalo’s backup Thaddeus Lewis, who completed just 40% of his throws when pressure got to him. He’s joined at the bottom by McGloin and Brandon Weeden with both showing why so many doubt their viability as a long-term starters in the league. St. Louis’ Sam Bradford had the fourth-worst mark as we head into yet another offseason where he’s coming off an injury.

Name Team Under Pressure Acc. %
 Andy Dalton CIN 56.7%
 Jake Locker TEN 56.6%
 Andrew Luck IND 56.0%
 Geno Smith NYJ 55.5%
 Colin Kaepernick SF 55.1%
 Matt Schaub HST 55.1%
 Sam Bradford STL 53.4%
 Brandon Weeden CLV 50.8%
 Matthew McGloin OAK 50.0%
 Thaddeus Lewis BUF 40.0%

Andrew Luck and Andy Dalton also feature in the Bottom 10, with their up-and-down play leading to six pressured picks apiece. Geno Smith can be spotted once again, with pressure causing him plenty of problems in his rookie year, while veteran Matt Schaub’s inclusion won’t come as a surprise to anyone who saw him during what was as rough a year as he’s had in the league.

As always it’s important to note that, while these stats go well beyond the box score, they still aren’t as good an indication to a quarterback’s play as our grades. Context is still needed when looking at these numbers, with a two-yard dump off on 3rd-and-13 counting for the same as a 14-yard laser in terms of accuracy under pressure. Likewise for finding a receiver open downfield through blown coverage as opposed to a throw that splits coverage to find a home. Fortunately, our Signature Stats come as part of our PFF Premium Package so you can treat yourself to both and get the advanced stats and grades together.


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| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

  • VikesRuke

    Christian Ponder is in the top 10 for under pressure accuracy? I sincerely cannot believe that is the case…

    • Thomas James

      Haha! Don’t blame your skepticism, but it is because when he isn’t being sacked or running like a scared squirrel with it he dumps it off 1-5 yards to his emergency read. I guarantee about 0.5% of those are throws 10+ yards down the field.

  • osoviejo

    I wonder if Russell Wilson’s accuracy percentage dropoff from his rookie season owes to being under siege virtually all season.

    It would be interesting and useful to breakdown these quarterback stats further by charting in-pocket vs out-of-pocket throws (the latter more likely to indicate a throw on the run). Especially given the recent emphasis on mobile quarterbacks.

  • Jason Williams

    I feel like throwing interceptions under pressure somehow needs to be weighted into a scoring metric that would have greater weight than just an incompletion but I like these stats – very easy to understand.

    I would also like to see a stand alone analysis of Josh McCown. I feel like the biggest myth of the 2013 season is that he was this world beater QB. Throw out the Dallas game. They were a terrible defense all year (especially against the pass) and they quit on a cold night in Chicago.

    Let’s not forget that they lost more games with him than they won. I believe the Bears scored 20 and 21 points in three of his starts which doesn’t exactly scream Elite QB to me.

    Don’t get me wrong, I want Josh McCown back behind Cutler – I just feel like the calls for him to get consideration to start… I don’t understand that.

  • corners

    its pretty impressive that Ryan Tannenhill isnt in the bottom ten with accuracy under pressure considering he had the most sacks in the nfl.

    • von miller

      Assuming he is making a lot of passes under pressure rather than taking the sack.

  • MikeC4

    Should be interesting how much Eli’s accuracy improves or not under McAdoo. None of it matters if Reese screws up the Oline

  • T.J.

    where is Brady, I didn’t see one mention. I guess he’s just a completely average guy. or maybe these stats don’t mean much.

    • [email protected]

      They mean a lot less than you think. Statistics was the basis of the Eugenics movement in the 1920s that culminated in the genocides of WW2. Since then statistics have continued to be a tool of manipulation up to this day.

  • James C

    As a Ravens fan I have to take exception to the idea you propose of “the myth of Flaccos arm”. Obviously in an offense that is devoid of talent at WR and OL, yet insists on going deep as much as any other offense in the league, they are going to have a lot of issues. I think that you have put way to much value on the statistic itself and ignored the context…

    • [email protected]

      Statistics are irrelevant at best. Matt Flynn was higher than Russell Wilson i guess the Seahawks made a mistake? Its just a statistic and theyre all worthless.

  • John Vassar

    Gordon, it would be interesting to breakdown that % accuracy to where the pass was completed. Loss, 1-5, 5-15, 15-25, 30+