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Under Pressure (1 Viewer)


Former scout Dave Razzano mentions in Cecil's interview, what a QB does under pressure is a big factor to their success. Three articles related to this:


Beating the Blitz

May 12th, 2011 | Author: Khaled Elsayed

You want to be a quarterback in the NFL? Well you know you need to be gifted physically. You need to have the arm to zip the ball into tight spots, the accuracy to hit your man, and the mobility to avoid defenders that are crashing in around you.

You also need to be smart. You need to recognize defenses and see what is coming. You need to process information quickly and make the right decision.

Nowhere is that ability (or lack thereof) more apparent than in the face of a blitz. It doesn’t matter whether the defense is bringing everyone or dropping an end into coverage and overloading on the other side. You need to pick it up and get that ball somewhere.

It’s what can separate a good quarterback from a truly great one and that begs the question: who are the best in the business when it comes to dealing with the blitz?

Well, fortunately, Pro Football Focus tracks every blitz and every result of every blitz and we’re going share with you what the numbers say. It only took a spreadsheet with over two hundred columns to process it all.

The qualifying minimum to be part of this study was being blitzed at least 100 times.

Bullseyes On Their Backs

I guess if you’re going to break down how quarterbacks deal with the blitz, it would be nice to look at which quarterbacks get blitzed most often. Something of particular interest to Raider fans, who will see two of their players in the top six.

Having the house thrown at him more than any other was Bruce Gradkowski. The former Buc and Brown felt the blitz on 57.8% of all of his drop backs for Oakland in 2010 with the next in line, Joe Flacco, finishing a figurative mile behind, seeing blitzes on 49.51% of his drops from center. Just outside of the Top 5 was the aforementioned other Raider, Jason Campbell. Elite quarterbacks Matt Ryan (44% of plays) and Ben Roethlisberger (41.21%) both saw a lot of men coming their way as teams tried to slow them down.

In less of a surprise, rookies Colt McCoy (45.59%), Sam Bradford (42.03%), and Jimmy Clausen (41.28%) all faced their share of blitzes, while defenses smelt blood with Ryan Fitzpatrick (45.95%) and those multiple receiver sets the Bills liked to use.

Here’s a complete list of how much each quarterback was blitzed.

Percentage of Pass Play BlitzedRank (DropBack) (DropBack Blitzed) (Blitzed %)1 Bruce GradkowskiOAK 173 100 57.80%2 Joe Flacco BLT 618 306 49.51%3 Ryan FitzpatrickBUF 494 227 45.95%4 Colt McCoy CLV 261 119 45.59%5 Matt Ryan ATL 650 286 44.00%6 Jason Campbell OAK 388 168 43.30%7 Sam Bradford SL 640 269 42.03%8 Josh Freeman TB 544 225 41.36%9 Jimmy Clausen CAR 344 142 41.28%10 Ben RoethlisbergerPIT 546 225 41.21%11 Alex D. Smith SF 375 153 40.80%12 Brett Favre MIN 383 154 40.21%13 Matt Schaub HST 611 244 39.93%14 Mark Sanchez NYJ 640 251 39.22%15 Carson Palmer CIN 620 243 39.19%16 Derek Anderson ARZ 355 139 39.15%17 Jay Cutler CHI 565 219 38.76%18 Aaron Rodgers GB 695 266 38.27%19 Donovan McNabb WAS 525 199 37.90%20 Drew Brees NO 747 282 37.75%21 Kyle Orton DEN 545 205 37.61%22 Peyton Manning IND 724 271 37.43%23 Eli Manning NYG 565 210 37.17%24 Chad Henne MIA 540 199 36.85%25 Michael Vick PHI 510 186 36.47%26 Philip Rivers SD 591 209 35.36%27 Tom Brady NE 572 200 34.97%28 Matt Cassel KC 519 176 33.91%29 David Garrard JAX 421 141 33.49%30 Jon Kitna DAL 357 119 33.33%31 Matt Hasselbeck SEA 566 181 31.98%32 Shaun Hill DET 448 136 30.36%Down near the bottom, teams shied away from attacking the aging trio of Shaun Hill (30.36%), Matt Hasselbeck (31.98%), and Jon Kitna (33.33%). Meanwhile, it would appear teams were scared of sending more men after Tom Brady, for fear of leaving his receivers even more room to roam.

One figure that did catch my attention was how low Michael Vick was on the list. Understandably, teams have to account for Vick’s mobility, but the Vikings showed how susceptible he could be to pressure off the edge as Antoine Winfield got the zone blitz working. Furthermore, Vick wasn’t exactly seeing the whole field, with just 15.55% of his throws going to the right side.

Philadelphia can expect more of this. If you want to know why, you need only look at Vick’s completion percentage when blitzed as it dropped to 52.98%.

Accuracy Impacted

At the top of this next list – completion percentage when blitzed – it’s no real surprise that Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers are securely among the best, but there may be a small shock in store for some with Chad Henne ranking so highly. When you consider Miami’s preference for keeping extra guys in to protect, some explanation is offered. With 5.84 men kept in on average, Miami’s number was third highest in the league. Comparatively, teams like New Orleans and San Diego keep in a relatively low 5.51 men per pass play.

Completion Percentage When BlitzedRank Blitzed Attempts Completions Completion%1 Drew Brees NO 282 267 176 65.92%2 Chad Henne MIA 199 179 114 63.69%3 Aaron Rodgers GB 266 245 154 62.86%4 Philip Rivers SD 209 190 118 62.11%5 Matt Schaub HST 244 226 140 61.95%6 Matt Ryan ATL 286 268 165 61.57%7 Jon Kitna DAL 119 104 64 61.54%8 Eli Manning NYG 210 198 121 61.11%9 Carson Palmer CIN 243 223 136 60.99%10 Peyton Manning IND 271 261 159 60.92%11 Josh Freeman TB 225 200 121 60.50%12 Shaun Hill DET 136 124 75 60.48%13 Matt Hasselbeck SEA 181 166 100 60.24%14 Joe Flacco BLT 306 276 162 58.70%15 Matt Cassel KC 176 158 92 58.23%16 Jay Cutler CHI 219 188 108 57.45%17 Tom Brady NE 200 190 109 57.37%18 Alex D. Smith SF 153 137 78 56.93%19 Ryan FitzpatrickBUF 227 203 115 56.65%20 Sam Bradford SL 269 246 139 56.50%21 David Garrard JAX 141 119 67 56.30%22 Jason Campbell OAK 168 139 78 56.12%23 Colt McCoy CLV 119 100 56 56.00%24 Brett Favre MIN 154 148 82 55.41%25 Ben RoethlisbergerPIT 225 194 106 54.64%26 Michael Vick PHI 186 151 80 52.98%27 Donovan McNabb WAS 199 182 96 52.75%28 Mark Sanchez NYJ 251 231 120 51.95%29 Kyle Orton DEN 205 191 93 48.69%30 Bruce GradkowskiOAK 100 88 41 46.59%31 Jimmy Clausen CAR 142 116 51 43.97%32 Derek Anderson ARZ 139 127 52 40.94%Down where you don’t want to be, you get a little bit of numbers to back up what we already know when it comes to Derek Anderson. After our deep ball article looked favorably at his accuracy going downfield, you see the true problem with him. He gets flustered in stressful situations. While others excel against the blitz, he’s completing just 40.94% of his passes. When you’re ranked lower than Jimmy Clausen you got some explaining to do.

Points Not Picks

So we’ve looked at accuracy, but what about the plays that show up on highlight reels? Which players are using the blitz to put up points, and which ones are feeling the heat and turning it over? In a shocking result, Peyton Manning is at the top.

Turning the sarcasm off for a second, it is a surprise to have him joined by Mark Sanchez. For all his faults (and he has a few), Sanchez tends to work best when teams give him more of the field to exploit, handling the teams that go after him.

Touchdown to Interception Ratio When BlitzedRank		            Blitzed	TDs    INTs	TD / INT1t	Peyton Manning	IND	271	13	3	4.31t	Mark Sanchez	NYJ	251	13	3	4.33	Joe Flacco	BLT	306	12	4	3.04	Matt Ryan	ATL	286	14	5	2.85	Michael Vick	PHI	186	8	3	2.76	Sam Bradford	SL	269	10	4	2.57t	Eli Manning	NYG	210	16	7	2.37t	Jon Kitna	DAL	119	9	4	2.37t	Ben RoethlisbergerPIT	225	9	4	2.310t	Josh Freeman	TB	225	11	5	2.210t	Aaron Rodgers	GB	266	13	6	2.212t	Carson Palmer	CIN	243	10	5	2.012t	Tom Brady	NE	200	8	4	2.014t	Matt Cassel	KC	176	9	5	1.814t	Kyle Orton	DEN	205	7	4	1.816	Philip Rivers	SD	209	10	6	1.717	Matt Schaub	HST	244	8	5	1.618	Jason Campbell	OAK	168	6	4	1.519t	Ryan FitzpatrickBUF	227	12	9	1.319t	Donovan McNabb	WAS	199	8	6	1.321t	Chad Henne	MIA	199	7	6	1.221t	David Garrard	JAX	141	7	6	1.223t	Drew Brees	NO	282	6	6	1.023t	Matt Hasselbeck	SEA	181	5	5	1.023t	Alex D. Smith	SF	153	4	4	1.023t	Jimmy Clausen	CAR	142	2	2	1.027t	Jay Cutler	CHI	219	5	6	0.827t	Bruce GradkowskiOAK	100	3	4	0.829t	Shaun Hill	DET	136	2	3	0.729t	Colt McCoy	CLV	119	2	3	0.731	Brett Favre	MIN	154	4	8	0.532	Derek Anderson	ARZ	139	1	5	0.2
[/size] Again it doesn’t paint a pretty picture for Derek Anderson, and it gives some numbers to the widely held feeling that Brett Favre should never have come back. A more surprising figure sees Drew Brees towards the bottom at 23rd. Given how many times he threw the ball when blitzed you can understand the six interceptions to a degree, but it’s slightly stunning there weren’t more touchdowns. GradingLastly, as everyone knows, we grade plays on a certain scale. Some of that was explained briefly in this article. I reviewed our grades specifically for blitz situations. Things that won’t astound are how well our the top three in this list did, but Eli Manning probably doesn’t spring to mind as a guy expected to rank well. The same goes for Carson Palmer, who may not be coming off his best year, but there’s something left in the tank if the Bengals are prepared to let him go.
Pro Football Focus Grade When Blitzed	      QB Rating When Blitzed	Grade When Blitzed1	Aaron Rodgers	GB	60.9	39.02	Matt Ryan	ATL	86.5	34.03	Philip Rivers	SD	74.3	23.54	Eli Manning	NYG	61.0	22.05	Carson Palmer	CIN	63.9	22.06	Joe Flacco	BLT	64.0	21.57	Ben Roethlisberger PIT	81.1	19.08	Peyton Manning	IND	67.4	18.09	Matt Schaub	HST	58.7	17.510	Drew Brees	NO	64.3	16.011	Shaun Hill	DET	52.0	14.512	Sam Bradford	SL	51.0	14.013	Josh Freeman	TB	79.4	13.514	Matt Hasselbeck	SEA	67.7	12.515	Mark Sanchez	NYJ	51.9	11.516	Chad Henne	MIA	48.8	11.517	Tom Brady	NE	84.5	11.018	Jason Campbell	OAK	60.6	9.519	Michael Vick	PHI	65.3	9.020	Jay Cutler	CHI	68.9	9.021	Jon Kitna	DAL	78.7	8.022	Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF	44.0	6.523	Brett Favre	MIN	43.2	6.024	Alex D. Smith	SF	66.1	4.025	David Garrard	JAX	67.2	3.526	Colt McCoy	CLV	53.8	2.527	Kyle Orton	DEN	62.4	1.028	Matt Cassel	KC	63.2	0.529	Jimmy Clausen	CAR	50.3	0.530	Donovan McNabb	WAS	46.7	-1.031	Bruce GradkowskiOAK	64.8	-2.032	Derek Anderson	ARZ	56.1	-11.0That brings to a close our look at the quarterbacks against the blitz. With metrics there are always mitigating circumstances and it’s so with our grading: players who are blitzed more are rewarded with more opportunities to make plays.

Such is life that things are rarely perfect, but there’s plenty of food for thought here as you wonder why some quarterbacks make it look so easy, and others seem like they’re playing a different game.

That’s what the blitz can do to quarterbacks.



[B]Pressure Reveals[/B]

May 16th, 2011 | Author: Khaled Elsayed

I’ve recently being looking into some of the elements that factor in to making a good or bad quarterback. I broke down some numbers looking at the deep ball, and recently followed it by looking at how quarterbacks cope when blitzed.

That leads in quite nicely to the next piece. Pressure.

You give most quarterbacks a lot of time and they’ll punish you. You put them in an uncomfortable situation with a 280-pound monster coming at them, and suddenly mistakes come about a lot more freely.

Pressure was something we saw plenty of last year. Whether it was something in their Gatorade or just one of those years, the pass rushers really seemed to get the better of their offensive line counterparts. The end result being a heck of a lot of quarterbacks put under pressure.

That generates the question for this study. Who performed the best under pressure?  So let’s examine that. (Note: for this piece we looked at all quarterbacks who dropped back from center at least 200 times.)

Who Is Getting Pressured

Before getting into the performance aspects, let’s look at which quarterbacks spent most of their time under pressure. It shouldn’t be looked at as the teams allowing the most pressure necessarily had the worst pass blocking offensive line, there are other things to consider. Such as: which teams keep the most men in to help, how well those extra blockers performed, the quarterback’s ability to get rid of the ball in a timely fashion, and his willingness to let pressure mount confident in his ability to dodge it.

That said, the Chicago line was brutal this year, so it’s no surprise Jay Cutler is at the top of the charts. More interesting is that below him we have four of the more mobile quarterbacks in the league. Players like Josh Freeman, Michael Vick, David Garrard and Ben Roethlisberger are players who, because of physical attributes that allow them to often shake off rushers, can afford to let a little more pressure get their way in the hopes of making a play.


Percentage of Drop Backs Under PressureRank	Player	Team	Drop backs	% Pressured1	Jay Cutler	CHI	565	41.42%2	Josh Freeman	TB	544	40.99%3	Michael Vick	PHI	510	40.78%4	Donovan McNabb	WAS	525	40.38%5	Jason Campbell	OAK	388	39.69%6	Derek Anderson	ARZ	355	38.87%7	David Garrard	JAX	421	37.77%8	Alex D. Smith	SF	375	36.00%9	Matt Cassel	KC	519	35.65%10	Ben RoethlisbergerPIT	546	35.53%11	Philip Rivers	SD	591	34.86%12	Jimmy Clausen	CAR	344	34.59%13	Sam Bradford	SL	640	34.06%14	Brett Favre	MIN	383	33.68%15	Kerry Collins	TEN	292	33.56%16	Ryan FitzpatrickBUF	494	33.20%17	Joe Flacco	BLT	618	33.01%18	Kevin Kolb	PHI	211	32.70%19	Kyle Orton	DEN	545	31.56%20	Matt Ryan	ATL	650	31.23%21	Eli Manning	NYG	565	30.62%22	Matt Schaub	HST	611	30.28%23	Tom Brady	NE	572	29.90%24	Chad Henne	MIA	540	29.63%25	Tony Romo	DAL	223	29.60%26	Colt McCoy	CLV	261	29.50%27	Shaun Hill	DET	448	29.02%28	Aaron Rodgers	GB	695	28.49%29	Drew Brees	NO	747	28.11%30	Carson Palmer	CIN	620	28.06%31	Mark Sanchez	NYJ	640	27.66%32	Peyton Manning	IND	724	25.55%33	Matt Hasselbeck	SEA	566	24.91%34	Jon Kitna	DAL	357	24.65%Meanwhile, down at the bottom you’ve got a mixture of guys who benefit from good protection (like Mark Sanchez) to guys who know if they don’t get rid of it quick then their protection is going to get them hit (Peyton Manning). For every player, the type of quarterback they are and situation they’re in has more to do with the percentage of plays they’re pressured on than just attributing it to a fault of the offensive line.

Completion Percentage

Moving into the realm of analyzing how players dealt with pressure, we’ll start with the most obvious tool: completion percentage. It may surprise you who the top dog is, with Kevin Kolb narrowly beating out Jon Kitna. Before people get too worked up about this, some things need to be taken into consideration. Firstly, both Kitna and Kolb faced a relatively low amount of pressure which makes their sample size small, but more importantly, while their completion percentage when pressured was impressive, the amount of pressure they let turn into sacks wasn’t. Nearly a quarter of the pressure they faced brought them to the ground. You can see the more elite quarterbacks (Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Matt Ryan) took considerably fewer.

You can also see in the last column which players’ completion percentages are affected most in pressure situations. It’s not pretty in the AFC East where Mark Sanchez has the largest drop when pressured, followed by Chad Henne, and Ryan Fitzpatrick finishing fifth. Once again, Tom Brady saves some respectability for the division, with only 14 players having less of a fall (not bad when you consider Brady completes 70.1% of passes when not pressured (eighth in the league).


Completion and Sack Percentages When Pressured                       Sack % w/Press. 	Comp% w/Press. Change Comp. % w/Pressure1	Kevin Kolb	PHI	23.19%	59.18%	       -2.24%2	Jon Kitna	DAL	23.86%	59.02%	       -8.30%3	Drew Brees	NO	12.38%	55.74%	       -16.22%4	Peyton Manning	IND	9.19%	54.49%	       -15.45%5	Tony Romo	DAL	10.61%	54.39%	       -20.61%6	Matt Hasselbeck	SEA	22.70%	53.70%	       -7.69%7	Tom Brady	NE	17.54%	53.24%	       -16.86%8	Carson Palmer	CIN	14.94%	52.78%	       -11.85%9	Philip Rivers	SD	18.45%	52.76%	       -18.93%10	Matt Ryan	ATL	13.79%	52.66%	       -14.16%11	Jay Cutler	CHI	23.93%	52.20%	       -10.97%12	Ben Roethlisberger PIT	21.13%	51.75%	       -13.53%13	Jason Campbell	OAK	21.43%	50.91%	       -12.10%14	Josh Freeman	TB	12.56%	50.90%	       -16.20%15	David Garrard	JAX	20.13%	50.43%	       -20.48%16	Aaron Rodgers	GB	19.19%	49.30%	       -22.10%17	Kyle Orton	DEN	19.77%	49.22%	      -12.94%18	Shaun Hill	DET	13.08%	47.62%	      -18.94%19	Brett Favre	MIN	16.28%	47.17%	      -19.10%20	Joe Flacco	BLT	24.02%	46.94%	      -21.53%21	Derek Anderson	ARZ	18.12%	46.85%	      -7.32%22	Kerry Collins	TEN	13.27%	45.88%	     -16.81%23	Matt Schaub	HST	17.30%	45.10%	     -25.21%24	Eli Manning	NYG	9.25%	44.74%	     -25.29%25	Michael Vick	PHI	17.79%	44.36%	     -26.18%26	Matt Cassel	KC	15.14%	43.36%	    -20.95%27	Sam Bradford	SL	15.14%	43.35%	    -23.55%28	Donovan McNabb	WAS	17.45%	41.76%	    -25.78%29	Colt McCoy	CLV	29.87%	41.67%	    -24.43%30	Chad Henne	MIA	18.75%	41.53%	    -26.30%31	Alex D. Smith	SF	18.52%	41.51%	    -26.29%32	Ryan FitzpatrickBUF	14.02%	39.20%	    -25.99%33	Jimmy Clausen	CAR	27.73%	39.02%	    -18.32%34	Mark Sanchez	NYJ	16.95%	35.46%	    -26.52%Mark Sanchez is a particular worry. He’s afforded some of the best protection in the NFL, but when that protection is pierced, he crumbles. His 35.46% just isn’t good enough, though he does do a good job of staving off sacks.

Turning It Over

Avoiding sacks isn’t the only thing Sanchez does well when he’s faced with pressure. The 2.82% of his pressured throws that ended up as interceptions is the 18th lowest figure, so, respectable enough. It’s not as good as Matt Ryan (0.49%) or Tom Brady (0.58%) but then their numbers are verging on the miraculous. Ryan in particular has an amazing touchdown-to-interception ratio when he is pressured.

Ryan isn’t at the top in percentage of pressured passes that go for touchdowns; both Kevin Kolb and Eli Manning finished with a higher percentage. But, you have to take into account that Kolb was working with a smaller sample size, and Eli also had the second highest percentage of throws under pressure ending up in interceptions (he can thank Brett Favre for not finishing with the highest). So good was Ryan under pressure when it came to throwing touchdowns and not picks, that his ratio of touchdowns to interceptions (10:1) was superior to all others by a large distance, with only really Tom Brady getting close.

Special credit as well to Josh Freeman. He managed to finish with the third best TD:INT ratio as well as the fifth lowest percentage of interceptions and fourth highest percentage of touchdowns when throwing under pressure.


Touchdown to Interception Ratio When PressuredRank	Player	Team	TD % w/Press.  INT% w/Press.  TD:INT w/Pressure1	Matt Ryan	ATL	4.93%	0.49%	      10.002	Tom Brady	NE	3.51%	0.58%	       6.003	Josh Freeman	TB	4.48%	1.35%	       3.334	Kevin Kolb	PHI	7.25%	2.90%	       2.505	Tony Romo	DAL	3.03%	1.52%	       2.006	Jon Kitna	DAL	2.27%	1.14%	       2.007	Ben Roethlisberger PIT	3.61%	2.06%	       1.758	Alex D. Smith	SF	3.70%	2.22%	       1.679	Matt Cassel	KC	3.78%	2.70%	       1.4010	Joe Flacco	BLT	2.45%	1.96%	       1.2511	Mark Sanchez	NYJ	3.39%	2.82%	       1.2012	Michael Vick	PHI	2.88%	2.40%	       1.2013	Philip Rivers	SD	2.91%	2.43%	       1.2014	David Garrard	JAX	3.77%	3.14%	       1.2015	Eli Manning	NYG	5.78%	5.20%	       1.1116	Kerry Collins	TEN	2.04%	2.04%	       1.0017	Matt Schaub	HST	2.70%	2.70%	       1.0018	Jimmy Clausen	CAR	0.84%	0.84%	       1.0019	Colt McCoy	CLV	3.90%	3.90%	       1.0020	Carson Palmer	CIN	2.87%	3.45%	       0.8321	Chad Henne	MIA	2.50%	3.13%	       0.8022	Peyton Manning	IND	3.24%	4.32%	       0.7523	Matt Hasselbeck	SEA	2.13%	2.84%	       0.7524	Aaron Rodgers	GB	2.53%	3.54%	       0.7125	Jay Cutler	CHI	2.14%	2.99%	       0.7126	Drew Brees	NO	2.86%	4.29%	       0.6727	Sam Bradford	SL	1.83%	2.75%	       0.6728	Kyle Orton	DEN	2.33%	3.49%	       0.6729	Jason Campbell	OAK	1.95%	3.90%	       0.5030	Brett Favre	MIN	3.10%	6.98%	       0.4431	Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF	1.22%	3.05%	       0.4032	Shaun Hill	DET	0.77%	2.31%	       0.3333	Derek Anderson	ARZ	0.72%	2.17%	       0.3334	Donovan McNabb	WAS	0.94%	3.30%	       0.29Down at the bottom we’ve got Donovan McNabb, and you probably have a better idea why the Redskins haven’t exactly bought into the long time Eagle. When put behind a shaky offensive line, the mistakes kept coming, he threw just two touchdowns compared to seven interceptions when pressured.


So now we come to our final breakdown. Grading. We pride ourselves on our ability to apply our set of standards to every play and grade objectively and we’ve got some grades here for when QB’s were pressured. This won’t just look into their ability to throw since we grade on a number of facets of each play (when they hold onto the ball too long, etc.). It encompasses quite a lot and explains why we’re so high on certain players.


PFF Grades When PressuredRank	Player	Team	QB Rating w/Press.  Grade w/Pressure1	Aaron Rodgers	GB	60.9	        19.02	Peyton Manning	IND	67.4	        16.03	Matt Ryan	ATL	86.5	        13.54	Ben Roethlisberger PIT	81.1	        11.55	Josh Freeman	TB	79.4	        11.06	Philip Rivers	SD	74.3	        11.07	Michael Vick	PHI	65.3	         8.58	Shaun Hill	DET	52.0	         8.09	Tom Brady	NE	84.5	         7.510	Carson Palmer	CIN	63.9	         7.511	Colt McCoy	CLV	53.8	         7.012	Tony Romo	DAL	80.6	         7.013	Jay Cutler	CHI	68.9	         7.014	Eli Manning	NYG	61.0	         4.515	David Garrard	JAX	67.2	         4.516	Drew Brees	NO	64.3	         3.017	Jason Campbell	OAK	60.6	         1.518	Matt Cassel	KC	63.2	         0.519	Matt Schaub	HST	58.7	         0.520	Kyle Orton	DEN	62.4	         0.521	Alex D. Smith	SF	66.1	         0.022	Jon Kitna	DAL	78.7	         0.023	Jimmy Clausen	CAR	50.3	        -1.024	Kevin Kolb	PHI	91.4	        -1.525	Kerry Collins	TEN	61.8	        -1.526	Sam Bradford	SL	51.0	        -1.527	Derek Anderson	ARZ	56.1	        -1.528	Joe Flacco	BLT	64.0	        -2.529	Matt Hasselbeck	SEA	67.7	        -4.030	Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF	44.0	        -4.531	Chad Henne	MIA	48.8	        -5.532	Mark Sanchez	NYJ	51.9	        -6.533	Brett Favre	MIN	43.2	        -7.534	Donovan McNabb	WAS	46.7	       -10.0It also explains a little bit about why I was dumbfounded to see Donovan McNabb make any top 100 list based on his 2010 performance. Perhaps the most telling aspect of it all, though, is how pressure highlights flaws. Mark Sanchez may have plenty of playoff wins, but it should concern Jets fans that the reason he needs to win them on the road largely boils down to his play (the rest of the team is as talented as any in the NFL). If there’s one area he needs to improve in, it’s how he handles pressure. If he can do this, you’d be more inclined to agree with Rex Ryan’s assessment that a Super Bowl is going to be heading to the green & white half of New York.

When I look at how quarterbacks deal with being pressured, it tells me a lot about their value in the league. It’s turning a potentially negative play into something positive; some guys can do it, and some guys can’t.

When it’s all said and done, I’m a lot happier having the former guy, than the latter playing quarterback for me.




Surrendering Pressure

June 6th, 2011 | Author: Khaled Elsayed

In the first part of our week long look at pass protection, we’re going to be breaking down which teams are giving up the most pressure. It will be the first of three key components we’ll inspect before our team pass protection rankings arrive on Thursday and Friday.

For this piece, it’s all about how much pressure is allowed and who is giving it up. We’re not just looking at the offensive line, but every offensive player – including the quarterbacks. That’s a point you’ll see me reiterate often this week as we sort out which offenses are the best when it comes to the many different elements of what constitutes pass protection.

What we’ve done for this piece is a very simple formula: the amount of pressure given up (sacks, hits, and hurries) divided by the total number of pass snaps. This gives us a Pressure Allowed Per Play Percentage, and forms the crux of this article.

Let’s begin with the team that gives up the least, the Seattle Seahawks. No team gave up less pressure per play than the NFC West champs, with their offensive line doing a particularly good job of not allowing oncoming rushers to get to their QB. The surprising star of the unit wasn’t solid rookie Russell Okung, but less-heralded Sean Locklear.

The Seahawks are in the good company, with Indianapolis hot on their heels. That’s no great reflection on the ability of Indy’s offensive line, but a big indictment of how impressive Peyton Manning is. No quarterback does as good a job of not letting pressure get to him, with only 0.88% of Colts pass plays resulting in pressure because Manning held onto the ball too long. The only player to better that number? The possibly soon-to-be retired Carson Palmer of the Bengals.

At the bottom, it won’t be a shock to see who had the biggest issues, and it gives even more reason to credit Ben Roethlisberger. Despite the Steelers surrendering pressure on over half of their pass plays (the only team to do so), they still reached the Super Bowl. Looking back on our Pressure Reveals article, a lot of this has to do with Big Ben’s ability to make plays when he’s forced to move around in the pocket (he finished with our fourth highest grade on the year in this area).

Right behind Pittsburgh was a 10-win team who also needs to thank their quarterback for making the most of some, at times, shoddy pass protection. The more you watch him, the more you think that picking up Josh Freeman in the 2009 draft may be one of the shrewdest moves Tampa Bay has made. The Buc QB finished fifth in our grading under pressure, behind a line that was among the worst in the league when it came to giving up pressure.

In any case, we’ll get into the reasons shortly, but for now here’s the list of teams that give up the most pressure on a per play basis:

[size="6"]Pressure Per Play Percentage, 2010Rank	Team PassSnaps Pressures Pressure Per Play Percentage (PPP%)1	SEA	714	202	28.29%2	NYJ	687	206	29.99%3	IND	746	226	30.29%4	NYG	597	190	31.83%5	ATL	706	225	31.87%6	DAL	668	214	32.04%7	DET	715	232	32.45%8	MIA	644	212	32.92%9	HST	646	215	33.28%10	CAR	573	198	34.55%11	CLV	555	192	34.59%12	GB	810	282	34.81%13	MIN	597	209	35.01%14	CIN	660	232	35.15%15	NO	780	278	35.64%16	TEN	544	198	36.40%17	NE	618	227	36.73%18	DEN	678	253	37.32%19	SD	615	240	39.02%20	BUF	605	237	39.17%21	SL	673	264	39.23%22	ARZ	642	252	39.25%23	BLT	656	260	39.63%24	PHI	754	313	41.51%25	JAX	565	241	42.65%26	KC	577	247	42.81%27	SF	590	255	43.22%28	WAS	699	305	43.63%29	OAK	609	276	45.32%30	CHI	665	308	46.32%31	TB	592	280	47.30%32	PIT	681	344	50.51%[/size] Offensive Line

We now dig into which offensive lines give up the most pressure as a percentage of their total number of snaps. We’ll start with the impressive New York Jets line doing everything they can to keep Mark Sanchez trouble free in the pocket – with good reason, given how he finished 32nd out of 34 in our QB grades under pressure. You’d dare not wonder how much the Jets would struggle if they didn’t have excellent players like D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore and Damien Woody last year. But they did, and it’s a big reason they’ve made it to the last two AFC Championship games.

In a similar fashion, Chad Henne can’t really ask for much more from his offensive line. Led by a truly elite left tackle in Jake Long, only two offensive lines allowed a smaller percentage of pressure per pass play, and it’s scary to think how much worse he would appear behind a lesser line.

Things don’t look so positive for the Chicago Bears who finished with the highest percentage. “Helped” immensely by the rookie struggles of J’Marcus Webb, the Bears hope to have at least partially rectified this with the drafting Gabe Carimi. Time will tell.

They’re followed by two teams who we’ve already mentioned in the Steelers and Bucs. While Pittsburgh’s problems were there for all to see after losing both of their starting tackles for the year, the troubles in Tampa were a lit bit less publicized. In fact, they were completely ignored. The benching of Jeremy Trueblood didn’t improve things as much as some would have you believe, and if we’re being completely honest, the selection of Donald Penn to the Pro Bowl was about as bad a pick as there was. Again, they can thank Josh Freeman for making so much out of so little.

The table below shows how much pressure offensive lines gave up on a per pass play basis:

[size="6"]Pressure Per Play Percentage, Offensive Lines, 2010Rank	Team	Cumulative O-Line Pass Protection Snaps    OL Pressures Allowed	   OL PPP%1	NYJ	3482	                                      143	            4.11%2	SEA	3570	                                      151	            4.23%3	MIA	3231	                                      137	            4.24%4	HST	3230	                                      137	            4.24%5	CIN	3320	                                      145	            4.37%6	BLT	3294	                                      148	            4.49%7	CAR	2866	                                      130	            4.54%8	DAL	3340	                                      152	            4.55%9t	ATL	3523	                                      161	            4.57%9t	CLV	2778	                                      127	            4.57%11	GB	4051	                                      191	            4.71%12	NO	3896	                                      188	            4.83%13t	NYG	3023	                                      147	            4.86%13t	DET	3578	                                      174	            4.86%15	MIN	2990	                                      146	            4.88%16	DEN	3396	                                      169	            4.98%17	SL	3359	                                      170	            5.06%18	IND	3730	                                      190	            5.09%19	NE	3096	                                      159	            5.14%20	BUF	3025	                                      158	            5.22%21	TEN	2720	                                      148	            5.44%22	PHI	3773	                                      209	            5.54%23	ARZ	3209	                                      181	            5.64%24	KC	2891	                                      166	            5.74%25	WAS	3485	                                      203	            5.82%26	SD	3077	                                      184	            5.98%27	SF	2955	                                      178	            6.02%28	OAK	3024	                                      185	            6.12%29	JAX	2833	                                      177	            6.25%30	PIT	3406	                                      223	            6.55%31	TB	2965	                                      197	            6.64%32	CHI	3327	                                      223	            6.70%[/size] Skill Positions

It’s not just the offensive line that matters. We’ll look at quarterbacks separately below, but for now what of the running backs, receivers (yes they occasionally stay into pass block at times) and tight ends?

The Super Bowl champions led the way when it came to skill players being kept in to block and doing so effectively. None who stayed in on more than five occasions ended the year with a negative pass blocking grade. Maybe more teams will consider carrying three fullbacks on the roster if players like Quinn Johnson, John Kuhn, and Korey Hall can improve your pass protection this much.

They were quite a way ahead of the next-best New York Giants, who can thank the excellence of Ahmad Bradshaw, one of the best in the business at blitz pick up, for them finishing so high.

For as good as they were, the New Orleans Saints were bad in this department. You can put the blame on a few people with Dave Thomas giving up eight quarterback disruptions, and the quintet of backs (Julius Jones, Heath Evans, Reggie Bush, Ladell Betts and Pierre Thomas) allowing 24 between them.  They were narrowly worse than the Baltimore Ravens who saw a real down year (in pass pro) for both Ray Rice (17 pressures allowed) and Le’Ron McClain (11).

[size="6"]Pressure Per Play Percentage, Skill Positions, 2010Rank	Team	Skill Player Pass Protection Snaps	Skill Pressures Allowed	    Skill PPP%1	GB	539	                                           17	             3.15%2	NYG	406	                                           17	             4.19%3	KC	416	                                           19	             4.57%4	SEA	458	                                           21	             4.59%5	CIN	322	                                           16	             4.97%6	DEN	587	                                           30	             5.11%7	ATL	350	                                           19	             5.43%8	OAK	559	                                           31	             5.55%9	JAX	288	                                           16	             5.56%10	IND	293	                                           18	             6.14%11	DAL	401	                                           25	             6.23%12	NYJ	318	                                           20	             6.29%13	HST	300	                                           19	             6.33%14	SD	313	                                           20	             6.39%15	MIN	308	                                           20	             6.49%16	CLV	273	                                           18	             6.59%17	PIT	363	                                           25	             6.89%18	ARZ	360	                                           26	             7.22%19	MIA	536	                                           39	             7.28%20	CHI	498	                                           37	             7.43%21	BUF	343	                                           27	             7.87%22	CAR	330	                                           27	             8.18%23	TB	339	                                           28	             8.26%24	SF	262	                                           22	             8.40%25	SL	409	                                           35	             8.56%26	NE	303	                                           26	             8.58%27	DET	221	                                           19	             8.60%28	PHI	359	                                           32	             8.91%29	WAS	310	                                           28	             9.03%30	TEN	236	                                           23	             9.75%31	BLT	437	                                           44	            10.07%32	NO	404	                                           41	            10.15%[/size] Of course some pressure isn’t just about a man up front getting beat. Sometimes it’s a case of the quarterback failing to get rid of the ball and inviting pressure onto himself. So, which teams are best at avoiding that? As previously mentioned, both Carson Palmer and Peyton Manning did an exceptional job when it came to not making matters worse and others weren’t far behind. The Washington combination of Rex Grossman and Donovan McNabb weren’t given much of an opportunity to add trouble with their line’s inability to delay the rush.

Things weren’t so great in Minnesota, where Brett Favre held onto the ball too long, struggling to cope without Sidney Rice. Joe Flacco also had some problems in Baltimore, always seeming to want more time. Those are some of the less excusable names at the bottom, as opposed to the more understandable feature of Philadelphia at No. 29. When you have a player like Michael Vick you can let plays develop and pressure come because he can get out of it and turn it into something.

[size="6"]QB-Invited Pressures, 2010   QB-Invited Pressures	QBP%1	CIN	2	0.86%2	IND	2	0.88%3	WAS	3	0.98%4	NYG	2	1.05%5	JAX	3	1.24%6	DAL	3	1.40%7	TEN	4	2.02%8	BUF	5	2.11%9	OAK	6	2.17%10	ARZ	6	2.38%11	GB	7	2.48%12	NO	7	2.52%13	SL	7	2.65%14	MIA	6	2.83%15	TB	8	2.86%16	SD	7	2.92%17	DET	7	3.02%18	CAR	6	3.03%19	ATL	7	3.11%20	PIT	11	3.20%21	SEA	7	3.47%22	CHI	11	3.57%23	HST	8	3.72%24	DEN	10	3.95%25	NE	9	3.96%26	KC	10	4.05%27	SF	11	4.31%28	NYJ	9	4.37%29	PHI	14	4.47%30	CLV	9	4.69%31	BLT	16	6.15%32	MIN	14	6.70%[/size] So there you have our breakdown of who’s allowing the pressure. You’ll realize there’s a large percentage of pressure unaccounted for, and those are due to unblocked players that come free against roll outs or on overload blitzes, etc. Our goal here, though, is to show where the responsibility lies for all plays that can be attributed.

Ultimately, it’s a combination of things that make a team an efficient pass blocking unit. Tomorrow we’ll follow up by looking at the difference in how teams allow pressure to turn into to sacks. All of you pass-blocking aficionado’s stay tuned all week as we break down parts of pass protection before unveiling our team rankings.


I'll be considering this info when doing my projections and strength of schedule for QBs.
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I really like the pressure per snap numbers, and I did something very similar with their stats last summer to look for trends on the defensive side of the ball. I think some of their conclusions lack context (e.g. Vick and blitzes, Sanchez's TD-INT ranking) and would like to see the results adjusted for defensive factors (similar to how ballparks factor into baseball metrics), though.

Metrics like this, and those done by Football Outsiders (adjusted sack rates and line stats), are great reads.


Team Pass Protection Rankings, Part 1

June 9th, 2011 | Author: Khaled Elsayed

So we’ve been building to it all week and now it’s here.

On Monday we looked at pressure per play, Tuesday it was about how much of that pressure turned into sacks, and yesterday, how many blockers each team kept in on average.

The prep is done. All that remains is a countdown (because countdowns are so much more fun) to our top pass protection unit using the formula we introduced last year:

Pressure Per Play multiplied by Average Number of Pass Blockers Per Play (multiplied by a 1000) equals the Pass Protection Rating.

It should be noted Pressure Per Play has some weighting to it. From our grading we’ve found sacks are more often more impressive plays than hits or hurries (no kidding) and we’ve assigned three quarters the worth to a hit or hurry as that of a sack. That explains the Tuesday piece for those curious as to where it fit into things.

Anyway, I don’t think anyone came here for my long, drawn out explanations. You came for some rankings, and rankings are what you shall get …

32. Pittsburgh Steelers (2.22)

Just how did a team with the worst pass protection in the league get to the Super Bowl? Some of it comes down to the quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger isn’t afraid of holding onto the ball a bit longer, and understandably so with him being one of the best in the league at dealing with pressure (our fourth highest grade in this respect). The big problem is an offensive line that couldn’t overcome injuries, with every player having a negative grade in pass protection. It doesn’t look like Willie Colon will return, but if Max Starks is healthy that will help out somewhat.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 32nd

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 27th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 17th

31. Chicago Bears (2.12)

Regardless of what some may have led you to believe, the Bears line really didn’t get all that much better as the year went on. Both tackles struggled (giving up 26 sacks and 120 total pressures between J’Marcus Webb and Frank Omiyale) and the interior wasn’t much better. Worse still was the negative impact of blocking tight end Brandon Manumaeuna. Thought to be like an extra tackle, he gave up pressure on 12.37% of his pass blocks. If there’s a positive to take it was how good Matt Forte and Chester Taylor were with their blitz pick up.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 30th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 29th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 29th

30. Oakland Raiders (2.11)

By leaving in more men than any others to pass block, the Raiders recognized their problems. Unfortunately, though the skill players didn’t do a bad job of helping, they couldn’t overcome the woes of the offensive linemen. Only part timer Mario Henderson earned a positive grade, with the tackles Jared Veldheer (-13.7) and Langston Walker (-14.7) struggling big time. You can place some of the blame on Jason Campbell for not getting rid of the ball (three sacks attributed to him), but, big picture, there was a lot of pressure to deal with and he did well to not allow more of it to turn to sacks.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 29th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 20th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 32nd

29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2.06)

What the Bucs may learn soon is that Josh Freeman can only do so much. He may be one of the best in the league at avoiding sacks (just 12.56% of pressure turned into sacks) and it’s not for the want of practice. Only one team gave up more pressure on a per place basis than Tampa Bay. A big problem is Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn. He gave up 51 total pressures on the year and was part of a Bucs team that collectively earned a -61.6 pass blocking grade for the year. In Josh they trust.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 31st

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 5th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 21st

28. Kansas City Chiefs (1.92)

It wouldn’t have been the biggest surprise to see the Chiefs pick up a tackle in the draft given the troubles of their starters. Brandon Albert (-9.9) and Barry Richardson (-13.8) will need to get better, with this line being built to run block and not keep their quarterback upright. For all the help their skill players give them (Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones and Tony Moeaki all graded positively in pass protection) it won’t help Matt Cassel if the line doesn’t get better. If not, well we know the problems Cassel has with pressure.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 25th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 8th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 27th

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (1.87)

Part of having a quarterback who can make plays when pressured means having a quarterback prepared to let more pressure come his way. The Jags and David Garrard are guilty of this, but that’s not their biggest problem. You can look past Jordan Black’s (-20.9) pass blocking because you know he’s not a starter, but Eugene Monroe is a real concern. When you draft a tackle in the AFC South, you need him to limit the damage Dwight Freeney and Mario Williams can do. Does Monroe? No. A shame, because in Maurice Jones-Drew and Marcedes Lewis Jacksonville have two of the better blocking skill position players.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 26th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 26th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 14th

26. San Francisco 49ers (1.86)

A lot of this can be attributed to the rookie struggles of the exceptionally young Anthony Davis (-17.0 pass blocking), but the facts are none of the starters walked out of 2010 looking all that good. It’s a line that doesn’t help out its quarterback, and at times a quarterback (whoever was playing) that wouldn’t help out their line. Not the best combination. Perhaps some of this could be overcome with some additional help, with the 49ers keen to get their backs and tight ends out running routes rather than helping out the line.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 27th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 21st

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 5th

25. Washington Redskins (1.86)

The Redskins went down gunning. Though they gave up a lot of pressure throughout the year, it didn’t mean they were going to leave any extra pass blockers in. Perhaps some of this came down to losing blitz pick up specialist Clinton Portis, but, in any case, tight ends and backs were kept in at a minimum. While you admire the ambition of it, Washington does not have the players capable of executing … yet. Perhaps Trent Williams will become the franchise LT they hope for, but right now he formed part of a left side of the line that gave up 82 combined QB disruptions (including 18 sacks) between them. You simply can’t leave talent like that so vulnerable.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 28th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 18th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 3rd

24. Baltimore Ravens (1.80)

Quite the fall for a Ravens team that finished in our top ten last year. Part of that comes down to the fall-off that occurred when Michael Oher took over the blind side tackle spot from Jared Gaither. Unfortunately (for Baltimore) Oher just wasn’t up to the task in 2010. You can also apportion some of the blame to the backs and tight ends for struggling so much, while Joe Flacco went from Joe Cool under pressure, to Joe Fool as he struggled to get rid of the ball. A shame because players like Marshal Yanda, Matt Birk and Ben Grubbs all had positive grades for the year.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 23rd

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 31st

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 27th

23. Philadelphia Eagles (1.79)

It was Greg Cosell who rightfully pointed out that Michael Vick will always make his offensive line seem worse than it is. Players like Vick tend to invite pressure, with their ability to deal with it leading to those breathtaking highlight reel plays that so vividly cloud judgment come end of year awards time. So while the line itself is nowhere near as bad as 23rd in the league, the unit as a whole suffers. It doesn’t help they have Jason Peters no longer protecting his QB’s blindside, but primarily this rating comes down to the Eagles having a quarterback happy to hold onto the ball to make something happen.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 24th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 14th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 7th

22. Denver Broncos (1.74)

The Broncos feature down the table in part due to their reliance on keeping extra men in. Daniel Graham excelled in this, so you can understand why to a degree, but him spending 42.31% of pass plays into block limits the options in the passing game. They weren’t helped by some rookies on the line taking some time to pick up the nuances of pass protection, but they can at least say Ryan Clady is playing to the level where he is now starting to warrant the hype as a franchise left tackle.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 18th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 25th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 31st

21. Arizona Cardinals (1.73)

Higher than you’d probably think given they’re a line that fields Levi Brown at left tackle. The big former first round pick gave up 70 total pressures on the year and finished with a pass blocking grade worse than any other player. He simply isn’t cut out to play left tackle. Outside of that, we did see improvement in the interior (though that didn’t owe much to Alan Faneca), and more questions raised about the value of Tim Hightower. He gave up more sacks (three) than you’d ever like a running back to. This team misses the quick release and fearlessness of Kurt Warner.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 22nd

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 28th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 18th

20. Buffalo Bills (1.71)

Improvement from the Bills. Demetrius Bell isn’t even an average left tackle yet, but he was much better than 2009, and Fred Jackson seemed to finally begin to get what picking up the blitz was all about. But players like Cord Howard still get beat far too often, and the interior is all too readily pushed back. That will need to improve. With Ryan Fitzpatrick still at quarterback they at least have a guy who knows how to avoid sacks.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 21st

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 12th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 19th

19. St Louis Rams (1.71)

What to make of the Rams? Sam Bradford had a good rookie year when it came to avoiding sacks. Their tackles flashed good play, but all too often they (especially Jason Smith) would follow it up by getting pummeled by an edge rusher. These are the least of their worries though, with the extra guys they kept in struggling, and right guard Adam Goldberg a better tackle than he is guard. You can imagine this pass protection unit getting better as Bradford continues to develop.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 19th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 4th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 22nd

18. San Diego Chargers (1.69)

It’s not necessarily a recipe for success. An offense and quarterback that like going deep, and pass protection that doesn’t always give you the time. While things were never as bad as the early season issues against Seattle, this is a pass protection outfit that can best be classed as vulnerable. You’d suggest keeping more men in, but none of the tight ends or backs are anything more than small obstacles and lessen the ability of Rivers to get rid of the ball.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 20th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 17th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 11th

17. New England Patriots (1.58)

We’ve seen New England lines play better, with Matt Light having an up and down year, and only two linemen (Logan Mankins and Sebastian Vollmer) ending the year with positive pass pro grades. What the Patriots did really well was get rid of the ball before the pressure could impact on them. That combo of scheme and Tom Brady’s awareness of what is going on, makes this unit seem better than it is.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 17th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 10th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 10th

Tune in tomorrow for the top half of our list of the top teams in pass protection.

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Team Pass Protection Rankings, Part 2

June 10th, 2011 | Author: Khaled Elsayed

Yesterday we started our countdown to the top pass protection unit of 2010. Today we finish it.

For those just catching up with what we’ve been doing this week, we’ve been looking at a number of features that go into a method for determining the best team in pass protection of the past season.

How we put it all together was laid out in Part 1, but to briefly recap, we considered who gave up the most pressure on a per play basis, how much of that pressure turned into sacks, and how many blockers teams kept in.

We threw those together to build this formula:

Pressure Per Play * Average Number of Pass Blockers Per Play * 1000 = Pass Protection Rating

It should be noted again that Pressure Per Play has some weighting to it as we count a hit or hurry as worth three quarters that of a sack (the importance of the Tuesday piece).

The week of team pass protection info ends here with the Top 16 teams from 2010:

16. Green Bay Packers (1.56)

Sometimes you have a quarterback who invites pressure while buying an extra moment because he can still turn those situations into positive plays. The mobile Aaron Rodgers is certainly one of these guys, finishing the year our top ranked quarterback when he faced pressure. There’s no weakness on this unit except for at the right tackle spot, where both Bryan Bulaga and Mark Tauscher had their troubles, and the backs are among the best when it comes to blitz pick up.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 12th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 19th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 25th

15. Carolina Panthers (1.55)

Credit this unit for finishing so high when it had Jimmy Clausen getting sacked on 27.73% of plays he was pressured on. Some of this owes to having a decent blocking tight end in Jeff King, but most of it comes down to the offensive line. Jordan Gross, Geoff Schwartz and Ryan Kalil had good years, and Travelle Wharton made up for his poor run blocking with some fine work in pass pro. With the prospect of a rookie quarterback or another year of Jimmy Clausen, that line will continue to have their work cut out for them.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 15th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 32nd

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 20th

14. Tennessee Titans (1.55)

There was a time when this unit would have been a lot higher up. As it is, the Titans had to compensate for some really woeful offensive line play. I mean, just what has happened to Michael Roos the past two years? We know the interior isn’t very good, and that Chris Johnson isn’t suited to picking up blitzes, but Roos has gone from one of the best in 2008, to very beatable. But, for having two quarterbacks who both managed to avoid sacks and pressures reasonably well, this could have been a whole lot worse.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 16th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 9th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 4th

13. Minnesota Vikings (1.53)

They might not be able to run block all that well, but there are plenty of worse units in pass protection than the Vikings’ offensive line. The real stories coming from the other guys. Along with his struggles in catching the ball, Adrian Peterson’s pass blocking skills leave you wanting – only one halfback finished with a worse rating in pass protection. At the other end of the spectrum, only one tight end finished with a higher rating than Jim Kleinsasser. The quarterbacks didn’t make anyone look better than they were.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 14th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 23rd

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 15th

12. New Orleans Saints (1.53)

It’s amazing the Saints could finish this high when you consider how poor the tackle play is. Fortunately, they have Drew Brees behind center and an offensive scheme that does its best to minimize the impact of Jermon Bushrod and Jon Stinchcomb. It doesn’t hurt having two behemoth guards in the middle that let very little past in Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks (unless Stephen Bowen is going up against him). Giving Brees that time to step up into the pocket is critical.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 13th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 3rd

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 12th

11. Miami Dolphins (1.53)

The first thing that jumped out about the Dolphins in 2009 was how many men they kept into help in protection. Well, this year it was just as bad. They had some struggles when Pat McQuistan was in the lineup, but you have a franchise left tackle like Jake Long, and good right tackle in Vernon Carey. Do you really need to keep men in as much as the Dolphins did? Are they that scared of Chad Henne’s dwindling accuracy when he’s under pressure?

Pressure Per Play Rank: 8th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 24th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 30th

10. Cincinnati Bengals (1.52)

The Bengals are a real mixed bag. They got excellent play out of Andrew Whitworth and Bobbie Williams, and poor play out of Andre Smith, Dennis Roland and Nate Livings. What’s more, they really messed about with their line, with Anthony Collins becoming the league’s only third down right tackle for a time. He was a massive upgrade on Smith and Roland, but yet was rarely given a proper opportunity to establish himself. We wrote similar things about the Bengals last year. A good unit, but given the talent they have, it should have been better with a quarterback who has a good feel for avoiding sacks.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 11th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 7th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 13th

9. Cleveland Browns (1.51)

It will never hurt to have Joe Thomas at left tackle, and the introduction of Peyton Hillis as an every-down back added another layer of protection to the unit (he surrendered just four QB disruptions all year). They’ll move up the rankings as Colt McCoy does a better job of avoiding sacks, but this is a surprisingly stable unit given the seemingly never ending turmoil the Browns are in.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 10th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 22nd

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 9th

8. Houston Texans (1.43)

The interior of the line does a particularly good job of not allowing pressure up the gut, something which isn’t hurt by playing the Colts twice a year. You do wonder if they might be pressed to bring in a back for some third down blocking help. As good as Arian Foster is catching the ball out of the backfield, he can give up a bit more pressure than you like to see a back give up.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 9th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 15th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 6th

7. Dallas Cowboys (1.41)

The at times predictable Dallas offense, didn’t shy away from leaving their tight ends into pass block, and with good reason. Marc Colombo desperately needed the help, and both Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett are among the best pass blocking tight ends around. With Jon Kitna helping to turn a whopping 23.86% of pressure into sacks, it was best keeping him free of defenders. At least Tony Romo, and his 10.61% returns next year.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 6th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 16th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 23rd

6. New York Giants (1.40)

The Giants recognized they had one pretty big weakness in David Diehl, and opted to leave guys into limit the damage. The tight ends and additional linemen they used went some way towards negating Diehl’s -19.8 pass blocking grade. Special mentions also to Ahmad Bradshaw, who finished the year as our highest-rated pass blocking back. Meanwhile, Eli Manning was the only guy to allow a lesser percentage of pressure to turn into sacks than his brother. Something in the DNA?

Pressure Per Play Rank: 4th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 1st

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 28th

5. Atlanta Falcons (1.37)

The Falcons do have some pretty big issues with Sam Baker at left tackle (-9.3 pass blocking grade), while Todd McClure visibly wore down as the season went on. But, as we said last year, there may not be a better team when it comes to finding the balance of keeping men into pass protect. Couple this with a quarterback who gets rid of the ball quickly and you have a team that makes the most of what it can put out on the field. Better than what they should be? Perhaps.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 5th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 11th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 8th

4. Detroit Lions (1.35)

Somewhat surprising, this owes a lot to the Lions being the number one team when it comes to shunning the thought of extra blockers. That isn’t to slight their pass protection unit which still performed extremely well. No, this is, in large part, on Shaun Hill. The quarterback did an extremely good job of getting rid of the ball and avoiding sacks compared to his quarterback peers. A very handy back-up to have.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 7th

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 6th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 1st

3. New York Jets (1.3)

Let’s take a look at the Jets’ line and where their pass protection grades saw them finish at their position. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, third. Damien Woody, sixth. Nick Mangold, fifth. Brandon Moore, third. Only Matt Slauson struggled with a negative grade in this very well built offensive line. The real problem, however, was the drop in play when Wayne Hunter was on the field, with him having some big issues against better edge rushers. It’s a worry if he starts next year, because this previous piece has already shown how Mark Sanchez struggles when pressured.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 3rd

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 13th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 16th

2. Seattle Seahawks (1.27)

This might surprise a few people. The Seahawks weren’t scared of leaving in extra men to help in protection, but the result was no team surrendered less pressure per play. If there’s a disappointment, it’s that they allowed the third highest amount of pressure to turn into sacks. But overall a great year, with Russell Okung serviceable for a rookie and Sean Locklear finishing with our highest pass blocking grade for a right tackle. If you’re going to focus on limiting damage, do it well. The Seahawks did.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 1st

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 30th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 24th

1. Indianapolis Colts (1.26)

How do you explain a team with its tackles grading out at a combined -23.3 in pass protection finishing No. 1? Peyton Manning, that’s how. His ability to get rid of the ball before pressure can get to him is second to none, with just 7.52% of all pressure resulting in sacks. Couple that with not needing backs and tight ends to stay in, and you have our top ranked unit for the second year in a row.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 2nd

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 2nd

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 2nd


The comment about Diehl seems to hold true, the Giants are really looking for a capable LT and to move Diehl to LG. The rookie Brewer mentioned that in his conversation with Giant coaches on draft day they said he should focus on LT. That means the Giants have Andrews, Beatty, Brewer and maybe even Boothe focusing on LT. It wouldn't surprise me if they add a LT in FA.

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It's posts like this one that make my visits to the Shark Pool worthwhile.

Nice job and thanks for putting it all together. :thumbup:

Eli just made stupid throws sometimes rather than taking a sack. Would prefer he fell down that order a bit more.

Either way, nice compilation of articles.

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