Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

01 Aug 2012

2011 Pressure Plays, Offense

by Danny Tuccitto

Last week, we went over the DVOA ratings for defenses when they put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Today, we'll flip things around, and see how quarterbacks performed when pressured by defenses. If you want more detail about how we define pressure and what types of plays are included in the stats below, feel free to go back and read the intro to the defense article here. And, let's not forget, you can find all these stats and more in the statistical appendix of our wildly popular and currently available book, Football Outsiders Almanac 2012.

In almost any era of football, performance in the face of an effective pass rush has been an important skill for a professional quarterback. But with increased use of tight ends in the passing game, and more teams going to spread-style looks on standard downs, it's never been as important as it is in 2012. Green Bay and Detroit couldn't use three-wide personnel groups about 60 percent of the time if Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford were as panicked by a collapsing pocket as cats are by an approaching vacuum cleaner. Ditto for Tom Brady and the Patriots' prolific pair of pass-catching tight ends.

Of course, successfully combatting pressure isn't a one-dimensional skill. Quarterbacks like Michael Vick use their legs. Others like Peyton Manning use their quick release and omniscient grasp of play design. Ben Roethlisberger seems to have a sixth sense for oncoming opponents developed during schoolyard games of tag. Rarely, a guy like Rodgers comes along, and uses all of the above. Whatever the means, the ends of these offenses require success under pressure. Without it, the entire thing tends towards a sketch backed by "Yakety Sax."

So, with very few exceptions, our list of quarterback DVOAs on pressure plays reads like a Rosetta Stone for offensive schematics. The AFL-type offenses are liberated by the guys at the top, while the AAFC-type offenses are constrained by the guys at the bottom. We used a minimum of 250 pass plays for this list, although the NFL average includes all quarterbacks. As was the case with defenses, we've sorted this list from highest to lowest in "percent pressure." "Difference" is ranked from the players who are impacted least by pressure (Brees, Freeman, Stafford) to the guys impacted the most (Palmer, Moore, Sanchez).

Player Plays Pct
Rk  with Pass Pressure without Pass Pressure Difference
M.Schaub 312 33.3% 1 4.5 -25.8% 2 9.4 70.4% 3 -4.9 -96.2% 7
T.Tebow 335 31.3% 2 1.8 -90.6% 20 7.0 30.0% 24 -5.2 -120.6% 15
B.Roethlisberger 572 29.0% 3 3.8 -36.6% 3 8.3 51.1% 11 -4.4 -87.7% 4
A.Smith 521 28.6% 4 2.0 -76.0% 14 7.5 53.5% 10 -5.5 -129.5% 21
K.Kolb 294 28.6% 5 2.6 -130.1% 30 7.5 30.9% 22 -4.9 -161.0% 30
J.Freeman 608 27.3% 6 3.6 -51.7% 7 7.0 13.6% 29 -3.4 -65.3% 1
M.Vick 494 27.1% 7 4.5 -39.1% 5 8.6 61.9% 6 -4.1 -101.0% 9
J.Cutler 347 26.5% 8 3.3 -76.0% 13 7.6 41.9% 18 -4.2 -117.9% 13
S.Bradford 404 26.5% 9 0.5 -109.9% 25 6.6 11.4% 30 -6.1 -121.3% 16
B.Gabbert 477 26.4% 10 1.4 -120.9% 27 5.4 -4.5% 34 -4.0 -116.4% 12
C.Ponder 345 26.4% 11 1.9 -95.0% 21 6.9 -1.6% 33 -5.0 -93.4% 6
Player Plays Pct
Rk  with Pass Pressure without Pass Pressure Difference
T.Jackson 519 25.6% 12 2.1 -97.0% 22 7.1 47.9% 13 -5.1 -144.9% 26
R.Grossman 488 24.6% 13 1.2 -108.9% 24 7.7 44.7% 14 -6.5 -153.6% 28
M.Cassel 312 24.4% 14 1.3 -135.0% 33 6.9 22.9% 28 -5.6 -157.9% 29
C.Palmer 351 24.2% 15 3.4 -134.3% 32 9.0 49.5% 12 -5.6 -183.8% 34
M.Sanchez 605 23.6% 16 1.0 -123.6% 28 7.3 42.1% 17 -6.3 -165.7% 32
J.Skelton 316 23.4% 17 2.4 -118.5% 26 7.1 8.1% 31 -4.7 -126.5% 17
C.McCoy 541 22.9% 18 2.0 -81.1% 17 6.1 25.8% 26 -4.1 -106.9% 11
J.Flacco 594 22.7% 19 3.0 -84.6% 19 7.4 43.1% 16 -4.4 -127.6% 18
C.Newton 599 22.5% 20 4.3 -62.0% 10 7.8 44.2% 15 -3.5 -106.2% 10
T.Romo 567 22.0% 21 2.3 -79.9% 16 8.6 63.0% 5 -6.3 -142.9% 25
M.Ryan 609 22.0% 22 2.6 -82.8% 18 8.1 55.6% 9 -5.6 -138.4% 24
Player Plays Pct
Rk  with Pass Pressure without Pass Pressure Difference
P.Rivers 626 21.7% 23 3.4 -77.5% 15 8.4 59.0% 7 -5.0 -136.5% 23
A.Dalton 576 21.5% 24 2.6 -52.9% 8 7.2 39.6% 20 -4.6 -92.5% 5
M.Moore 401 21.2% 25 1.5 -134.2% 31 7.4 41.3% 19 -5.8 -175.5% 33
M.Stafford 714 20.9% 26 4.7 -43.4% 6 7.5 37.9% 21 -2.8 -81.2% 3
T.Brady 659 20.6% 27 3.8 -38.0% 4 8.9 80.1% 2 -5.1 -118.0% 14
E.Manning 637 20.4% 28 3.4 -69.7% 11 8.9 58.0% 8 -5.5 -127.7% 19
C.Painter 271 19.6% 29 1.8 -127.6% 29 7.0 1.7% 32 -5.2 -129.3% 20
D.Brees 696 17.4% 30 4.7 -13.8% 1 8.5 65.5% 4 -3.8 -79.3% 2
K.Orton 268 17.2% 31 2.2 -136.8% 34 7.4 25.2% 27 -5.2 -162.0% 31
R.Fitzpatrick 625 16.6% 32 2.9 -99.7% 23 7.3 30.0% 23 -4.4 -129.7% 22
A.Rodgers 590 16.1% 33 3.0 -57.9% 9 9.2 91.8% 1 -6.3 -149.6% 27
M.Hasselbeck 547 13.9% 34 3.6 -72.4% 12 6.9 27.0% 25 -3.4 -99.4% 8
NFL -- 23.2% -- 2.8 -80.6% -- 7.6 40.1% -- -4.8 -120.7% --

If you recall from last week, the Texans defense led the league in pressure percentage last year. I'm guessing Houston readers aren't as excited about Matt Schaub topping this week's list, especially considering it's a bit of a surprise. Houston's offensive line ranked in the middle of the pack in Adjusted Sack Rate, not dead last, and the unit got a positive review last year from none other than Ben Muth. Schaub took a sack on only 5.2 percent of his dropbacks last season, so the culprit for his high percentage was hurries. If we look only at his throws, Schaub was hurried 30.9 percent of the time, which was 7.6 percent higher than the next-highest quarterback (in this case, Roethlisberger).

The silver lining for Schaub is that he didn't respond to all that pressure with a DVOA like Tim Tebow's. The silver lining for Tebow is that, as inefficient under pressure as he was last season, he was still better than new teammate Mark Sanchez. Perhaps that's unfair to Sanchez given Tebow's ability to return more value on scrambles, but limiting things to hurried throws actually makes Sanchez look worse. Tebow ranked 10th in DVOA difference on hurried throws, but Sanchez ranked 32nd. There's a convenient narrative in here somewhere about how a SoCal golden boy only gets the job done under ideal circumstances, while a scrappy NoFla overachiever embraces adversity, but only a hack would put that in a football column.

Instead, we'll use Sanchez and Tebow as a jumping-off point for a more general discussion of young quarterbacks. Like beating press coverage is for young receivers, beating pressure is a tried and true indicator of the career trajectory for young quarterbacks. The table clearly separates the ones who seem to "get it" from those that don't (at least not yet). Joining old standbys Brady, Roethlisberger, and Drew Brees in the top 10 of DVOA under pressure are neophytes Stafford, Josh Freeman, Cam Newton, and Andy Dalton. At 20th or worse, there's the aforementioned Sanchez, along with Sam Bradford, Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert, and John Skelton. I suppose you can give Ponder and Gabbert a pass because of their high DVOA-difference rankings, but those are simply byproducts of being the only two qualifying quarterbacks with a below-average DVOA without pressure.

Freeman's performance in particular, despite a down year overall, should give Buccaneers fans some optimism for the future, especially in the face of left tackle Donald Penn's injury. It gives us a clue that 2011 was Freeman's fluke, not 2010. That's because he ranked first in DVOA with pressure two years ago; third on hurried throws, while facing pressure on 34.7 percent of pass plays no less. What killed him last season was falling from eighth to 29th in DVOA without pressure, but that seems eminently more fixable than if he had all-of-a-sudden displayed the shell shock of David Carr. Also, contrast Freeman's stats with Bradford's, which were similar both in 2011 and his "good" rookie year in 2010 (20th in DVOA with pressure, 25th on hurried throws). In that context, it's no wonder we're more bullish on Freeman than Bradford going forward.

The one odd case among young quarterbacks is Colt McCoy, who at this point must be playing Nero to Cleveland's Rome. Back when he was the quarterback of the future in 2010, McCoy actually had the ninth-best DVOA with pressure and ninth-best DVOA difference. To boot, his rankings were ninth and 11th on hurried throws only. Last year, a season apparently bad enough to make him Cleveland's soon-to-be quarterback of the past, his DVOA difference ranking fell only two spots, and his DVOA with pressure, although worse, still ranked in the middle of the pack. If his agent is reading this, immediately below McCoy are those highly-paid faces of their franchises, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco.

We'll close with a couple of older quarterbacks whose pressure stats provide insight into surprising 2011 seasons; one surprisingly good, one surprisingly bad. First, there's 37-year-old Matt Hasselbeck, who has all the makings of a dead man walking in his quarterback battle with Jake Locker. This isn't Brett Favre standing in the way of Aaron Rodgers or anything. (Yes, that was a hack making a gratuitous Brett Favre reference in a football column.) Nevertheless, Hasselbeck was one of the quarterbacks least affected on pressure plays last year, and ranked even higher in DVOA difference if we focus only on hurried throws (-22.9%, third).

Although as late as early November, even our esteemed editor-in-chief was at a loss for explaining what was wrong with Philip Rivers, it turned out to be some combination of missing Antonio Gates for the better part of September and October, as well as Rivers himself becoming less stoic in the face of a pass rush. Two years ago, Rivers ranked eighth in DVOA difference, among the elite on plays both with (No. 5) and without (No. 7) pressure. With his statuesque reputation, it wouldn't surprise you to know that he was also the best pressure passer in the league on hurried throws. Last season, his ranking in a clean pocket stayed the same as 2010, but his pressure splits fell off. The numbers for all pressure plays are in the table, and they're not good. Worse still, however, was how poorly he threw the ball under duress: His -25.4% DVOA on hurried throws ranked 23rd, and his -90.8% difference ranked 29th.

In the grand scheme of things, nearly 80 percent of Rivers' pass plays over the past two seasons have involved no pressure whatsoever, so this isn't a doomsday prediction. He's still great in that situation, which is the reason why his overall DVOA and DYAR only dropped to the top-eight range after being in the top-three range from 2008 to 2010. In previous years, the middle of the field was Rivers' comfort zone amid the disquiet of a collapsing pocket, so the compliance of Antonio Gates' chronically uncooperative feet is crucial for 2012. If early reports are accurate, he's got nothing to worry about.

Posted by: Danny Tuccitto on 01 Aug 2012

70 comments, Last at 05 Aug 2012, 11:12pm by armchair journeyman quarterback


by Will Allen :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 1:06pm

Pretty hard to seperate receiver performance from qb performance with this stat. My wild hunch would be that having Larry Fitzgerald out on a route aids a qb's stats while under pressure, and having a Vikings receiver not named Harvin impedes a qb under pressure.

Also, there is a huge difference, in terms of what is required from a qb and receivers, if pressure comes quickly, or whether it develops late, and how many pass rushers are delivering the pressure. Yes, my goal is to eventually have 25% of the population of the United States become game charters for my benefit.

by Eddo :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 1:21pm

I think your first paragraph is very true. For example, I think the addition of Brandon Marshall for the Bears will make their pass protection appear more effective, despite no real changes on the line.

Looking back to last year, Cutler took fewer sacks once Earl Bennett returned from injury. Just having a receiver who is better at getting separation off the line is a huge plus for a QB under pressure.

by tuluse :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 2:10pm

I think the biggest difference is going to be that he's going to cause plays where Cutler isn't pressured at all when he would have been without him. For instance he should be able to rely on him running a slant route without falling down, and if he sees single coverage on a deep route he can probably just air it out for him and hope for the best. These types of things will happen well before an pressure gets to him.

by ErikKramer1Game... :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 4:01pm

"and if he sees single coverage on a deep route he can probably just air it out for him and hope for the best. These types of things will happen well before an pressure gets to him."

That'll probably end up being the case for Cutler and Marshall. I watched Megatron bail out Stafford in a handful of situations just like that. Overtime of the first Minnesota game comes to mind when Stafford had a pass rusher in his face, and he heaved up a pass while falling backwards and Johnson (who was astonishingly being single-covered by a gimpy Cedric Griffin) made an amazing over the shoulder catch. Also in the Raiders game, Stafford badly underthrew a longball while under pressure, but Johnson came back and got it.

Of course the flipside is that Stafford has an amazing arm and has also shown a remarkable ability to throw accurately when having terrible form necessitated by pressure (not being able to step into throws, etc.) Cutler has that same ability (like his performance in the first meeting with the Lions), and should get to show it off more with a better receiving corps.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 1:34pm

But Kolb had one of the worst pressure/no pressure splits - he was 30th. This table actually doesn't support the literal example you gave, right? Not even disagreeing with you, just curious if any of these numbers support the idea that certain kinds of WR's will help bail out a QB. I think Brees being the #2 in terms of least split indicates that having a bunch of viable options is better than having a world-class excellent one. (Actually, most of the QB's with the worst splits like Kolb, Matt Moore and Sanchez really had only one really above average target. And are not good QB's.)

Freeman having the best split (and Vick and Roethlisbeger having a decent splits) shows what we already know: guys who can keep the play alive with their legs will be ok under pressure.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 2:05pm

Well, it does support the notion that Kolb sucks more than even his critics suspect. I suspect that receivers who get open, and catch the ball when they get their hands on it, help out a qb more, and the more receivers a qb has who meet that description, the easier it is to handle pressure.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 3:51pm

Sure, we agree then - the only example of a QB having a single excellent WR helping them out under pressure is Detroit with Calvin Johnson. Teams with multiple options (like NO with its RB's, TE's and WR's all being viable targets) fair much better than Sanchez having Santonio Holmes to bail him out. Now, this might just be a case of me saying "better teams are better" but I'm not sure it's more complex than you saying "better WR's are better."

(Also, I the very common criticism of Kolb has been that he's fine normally but absolutely awful under pressure - so this backs that up. The idea being his concussions have had a psychological effect on him.))

by ErikKramer1Game... :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 4:10pm

See the 2nd paragraph of my post above. Yes better receiving options is a big piece of the puzzle, but the quartback's individual ability is at least as important. If Drew Brees didn't end his holdout (hypothetical, we all know that would have never happened) and Chase Daniels started all 16 games in 2012, I highly doubt he would have sniffed even the top 15 of this list.

Which is probably what you were trying to say anyway, when talking about how the Cardinals got hosed in the Kolb trade.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 4:16pm

No, it isn't more complex. My original point was that we don't really know how much this metric is illuminating qb performance, and how much it is illuminating receiver performance.

by Eddo :: Thu, 08/02/2012 - 9:58am

There's a sliding scale, I would say. It's not that an elite physical receiver (aside: not sure Santonio Holmes qualifies) alone will improve a QB's performance under pressure. The QB still has to be good enough at recognizing that pressure will be coming and at making a good enough throw.

Stafford and Cutler fit those criteria. Kolb? Not so much (so far, at least).

by LionInAZ :: Thu, 08/02/2012 - 10:40pm

I'd like to challenge the meme that Detroit has no effective receiving options other than Calvin Johnson. Let's just look at the raw numbers: Stafford had 330 completions, 25 TDs, and 206 yards/game passing to players not named Calvin Johnson. Those numbers alone were better than the entire Cardinal passing corps, better than Alex Smith's entire season, and comparable to Jay Cutler's entire season. Burleson, Titus Young, Tony Schefller, and Pettigrew were all pretty reliable receivers, and Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith are also good receivers out of the backfield.

By contrast, the Cards had Early Doucet and Andre Roberts as the secondary WRs behind Fitzgerald.
Brandon Pettigrew by himself had more pass catches than all of the Arizona TEs put together. And the Lions RBs had 86 receptions compared to only 40 for the Cards RBs. It seems pretty clear to me that Fitzgerald suffers not only from Kurt Warner's retirement, but also from not having Anquan Boldin on the other side of the field.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 5:29am

However, the Lions started the year planning to throw a lot and then lost their running backs to injury, resulting in an enormous amount of passing.

by chemical burn :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 12:05pm

Raw compilation stats aren't going to convince me here because (as Karl Cuba points out) the Lions had a plan of throwing, throwing, throwing the ball and they were also a better offense in general than the Cards (and therefore had more opportunities to compile stats.) As far as DYAR/DVOA is concerned, they had Johnson and a bunch of bad players. Johnson was #1 in DYAR/7 in DVOA. Their next best WR was T. Young, who was 54th in the league in DVOA. After him, it was Nate Burlson at #60.

As for Pettigrew, he was the 38th most productive TE in football, with the 33rd best efficiency. Scheffler was marginally better at 20th DYAR/13th DVOA - but he really is the only even mildly legit complement to Johnson. But it's not like we're even talking an Anthony Fasano/Kevin Boss quality player even then. In Detroit, it's Johnson or bust. Good thing he's likely the best in the league.

by ErikKramer1Game... :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 12:07pm

Even being an unabashed Lions homer, I have to agree. Pettigrew got 83 catches on a tremendous amount of targets, and from being a substitute for the mostly non-existent running game (6 yard hitches, tight end screens, etc.). Burleson is pretty good route runner, but he gets marked down for drops (and I guess the offensive pass-interference penalties in week 13? do those count in DVOA?), as well as lots of 5 yard "smoke routes" on 3rd and 8. Titus Young was far from a polished route runner, and also had a bunch of drops, penalties, and "unsuccessful" completions.

That being said, Pettigrew was really raw as a receiver when the Lions drafted him, and I think he's improved as a receiver each year, while still being a solid blocker. Young also showed improvement as the season wore on, and I have high hopes for both of them in 2012.

So yes, the other Lions receiving options aren't great, which is why it drives me nuts when people try to say Stafford is overrated because Calvin Johnson makes him look good (credit jenga, anyone?). Even if you replace Johnson's numbers with slightly above-replacement level receiver, he still comes out around 30 touchdowns and close to 4000 yards, which is still pretty darn good.

by chemical burn :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 1:09pm

I agree - I would also add that in a funny way I think eople are under-estimating just how bad the Lions were for a decade and how long it takes to come out of being a perpetual horrible franchise. Before last year, they won 8 games total in 3 seasons. They don't have depth, they don't have talent across the board and, if anything, their good players don't get exactly enough credit - that team is Stanton, Johnson and a d-line and that's about it. I think they just have so much upside because they haven't totally undone the Millen-era damage...

by Shattenjager :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 1:43pm

While Drew Stanton did play for the Lions, I'm betting you meant "that team is Stafford, Johnson, and a d-line."

Stanton threw a whopping zero passes last year and is now with the Colts.

by chemical burn :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 2:20pm

Ha, ha - yes, for sure!

by ErikKramer1Game... :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 2:52pm

Maybe that was a freudian slip referring to late 2010 when injuries and lack of depth reduced the Lions offense to Drew Stanton slinging passes to the immortal Bryant Johnson. (Somehow finishing 17th in pass DVOA was a minor miracle.)

by ErikKramer1Game... :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 2:51pm

Could not agree more. Building a talented roster like the Packers, Steelers, Patriots (back 7 from last year excepted), Saints, etc. takes several years of good drafting. The Lions have only had good drafting from 2009 on. (Even though Millen blind-squirreled his way into Calvin Johnson and Cliff Avril). Right now they're kind of like the LeBron James-era Cavaliers, except Lebron James is played by Johnson,Stafford,and the D-line. (Probably a little overstatement because the rest of the roster isn't quite that bad...they've got a few solid role players).

And yes, mentioning Matt Millen's name still makes me angry. Hearing him talk about football on T.V. must be like Idi Amin giving a speech at the U.N. on human rights. (Yes, I realize he was a very good player during his time).

by chemical burn :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 3:02pm

Yeah, they also have some good role players and I don't want to dismiss that totally - just point out that the NFL is all about depth and the Lions have guys who would be back-ups on most teams starting all over the place and back-ups who wouldn't even make the cut on the Packers or Steelers. Give them a year or two...

(Also, speaking of Millen, his comments about the Sandusky/Paterno situation where some of the most shameful nonsense I've ever heard. He repeatedly referred to Paterno as "a big character guy" and refused to say a bad word about Sandusky...)

by ErikKramer1Game... :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 4:20pm

Not to argue over semantics, but "backups starting all over the place" probably described their 2009 and 2010 rosters, but in the summer of 2011 I felt much better about their starters into the season, and better about their depth this year. But I agree they need at least two more decent drafts to be a consistent year in-year out playoff team (Or Stafford continuing his development trajectory to be able to carry the team himself, Peyton Manning-style).

Millen's comments on Penn State somehow didn't surprise me. There were plenty of stories during his time with the Lions about his legendary jackassery around the front office (treating secretaries like Randy Moss treats caterers, derisively dismissing the opions of scouts in the most condescending way possible, etc.). He is definitely the worst. Wayne Fontes was bad at his job, too, but I never hated him, because at least he was a good guy.

by chemical burn :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 4:23pm

Millen is definitely of those guys where all you can say is "I don't get it, who the hell likes this guy enough to give him a job? He's definitely not getting work of any kind based on his track record."

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 1:26pm

One, my Freemancrush still lives. Two, I'm shocked Freeman was only pressured on a bit more than a quarter of his attempts last year, as it seemed more; I'd be curious to see the breakdown as the season went on and the offensive line basically just gave up on that whole "blocking" thing.

by Dean :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 2:14pm

Any excuse for a Yackity Sax reference is a good excuse.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 2:31pm

I still can't work out if a low pressure/no pessure differential is that good. Freeman seems to do well because he sucked when as lonely as Kim Jong Il.

I'd quite like to see how well the percentage pressure correlates with average time per pass.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 4:38pm

It looks like a QB can be successful in a few different ways.

One way is to play well under pressure (high Difference rank), like Roethlisberger with his toughness to bring down, Vick with his scrambling, and Schaub with his I-don't-know-what. The other is to avoid pressure (low Pct Pressure rank), like Rodgers with his quick release.

QBs that are top-10 in both categories are Dalton, Stafford, Brees, and Hasselbeck. McCoy, Newton, and Brady are also in the top half of each category.

If you look just at DVOA under pressure I think you get an even better list of QBs, with Freeman being the only guy who had a bad year overall. This is also a better than Difference for guys like Rodgers who had such a high DVOA without pressure that he could fall a long way with pressure and still play pretty well (9th).

by Mr Shush :: Sun, 08/05/2012 - 10:46am

I'd be very interested to know if this is a one-season aberration for Schaub, or a trend, and whether other competent quarterbacks (ie not Grossman) playing in the same offense in Denver over the years showed similar patterns. Is it a product of the scheme? Do all those naked PA rollouts result in both extra pressure and extra success under pressue? Or is Schaub successful under pressure simply because he can dump the ball off to Foster and watch him make something out of nothing?

by tuluse :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 2:33pm

I didn't realize how bad Ponder's advanced stats were. He seemed moderately impressive for a rookie the few times I watched him.

by Vince Verhei :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 3:07pm

It's not even an advanced stats thing. His normal stats were pretty lousy overall. He had three good games (against CAR, ATL, and DEN), and for some reason people remember those three good games more than his six or seven bad ones. He averaged 3.9 yards per pass against the Saints. 3.9! That's a bad rushing average!

by tuluse :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 3:13pm

Must have been the 3 games I saw.

Actually, I remember thinking he wasn't bad against Green Bay in the first game, but I think I only saw the 2nd half of that game.

I thinking just how impressively bad a QB must be to have a negative DVOA with no pressure, and my initial reaction was surely Ponder was better than *that*.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 3:30pm

I'm not a Ponder fan by any means, but it does need to be pointed out that when Harvin isn't on the field, the Vikings have receivers that could be covered by me, you, and Vince, after we slug down some mojitos in the parking lot. We might catch the ball better, though.

The nice thing about McNabb being lousy last year was that they threw Ponder on the field, and if Harvin stays healthy, Simpson does after his suspension, and they get any production out of Kalil at all, they should have some insight by the end of the year whether Ponder was yet another failed qb acquisition. If he
remains a bottom feeder, it's back to the drawing board, but better to do that in 2013 than in 2014.

by Shattenjager :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 5:01pm

This is a bit off-topic, but what does "slug down some mojitos" mean? "Slug down some mojitos in the parking lot" sounds (rather impressively) like a very bad thing to do, but I have no idea what it means to "slug down" something or what a "mojito" is.

by tuluse :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 5:11pm

Mojitos are an alcoholic beverage, I think context will fill in the rest.

by Shattenjager :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 5:41pm

It does, thanks.

Sometimes not drinking leads to odd gaps in understanding.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 6:12pm

Especially in understanding RaiderJoe

by Vince Verhei :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 9:51pm

Mojjitos are a delicious drink made with rum, sugar, mint, and lime. They were a favorite of Ernest Hemingway's, and I will gladly slug some down in any parking lot you have handy.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 10:59pm

If you can't get pedantic about booze, I say you can't get pedantic about anything, so I'll note that Philistines and other enemies of all that is sacred make a mojito with sugar that has not yet been transformed into simple syrup. You just don't get the proper mix of sweetness to offest the tartness of the lime juice unless you make syrup. Good grief, last time I was in a bar and ordered one, the sociopath manning the bar tried to use 7-up! The craft of mixology is so unevenly practiced these days that one has to be a brave soul to order anything that requires more than pouring one type of hooch into a glass, unadorned!

Safe to say, any who slug down a mojito with me will know that veteran hands of the muddler, fresh mint, syrup, a good rum, and my favorite extra touch, a dash of bitters, have taken care to pay the proper respect!

by duh :: Thu, 08/02/2012 - 1:04am

7-up in a 'mojito?'

by Dean :: Thu, 08/02/2012 - 8:32am

Could be worse. Few letdowns can match the trauma of asking for a Jack & Coke and having them use Pepsi.

by BigCheese :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 1:25pm

How about trying to go simple, asking for a Bloody Mary and have the bartender send the waiter to ask what that is and how it's done. And then send him to ask again midway through because they forgot....

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by dryheat :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 4:24pm

They're going to use whatever is on the gun. In the joints I slung at, it was almost always generic cola.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/02/2012 - 10:12am

"The craft of mixology is so unevenly practiced these days that one has to be a brave soul to order anything that requires more than pouring one type of hooch into a glass, unadorned! "

Hell, I once got a watered-down martini. I don't know how they managed that, as every ingredient in the thing is an alcohol.

by Led :: Thu, 08/02/2012 - 6:59pm

It's likely the ice was not cold enough. If you use watery ice and let it sit too long in the shaker, you get too much water. A terrible, terrible thing.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Thu, 08/02/2012 - 2:19am

As a half-Cuban, enjoying mojitos is in the genes. However, over time, I've come to prefer caipirinhas, which are just mojitos with cacha├ža instead of rum and sans mint.

by Dean :: Thu, 08/02/2012 - 8:32am

Now you're talking!

by BigCheese :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 1:27pm

As someone who thinks that if the choice is between rum and no alcohol at all, I'll gladly be the designated driver, and doesn't much care for mint either, that sounds like something that I could actually enjoy.

(And yes, I have tried a Mojito. Even a "good" mojito. Still don't like them at all)

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by armchair journe... :: Sat, 08/04/2012 - 7:30am

Caipirinha is my go-to, when available.

Have you had an "Old Cuban" though? We've only recently been introduced, but are becoming fast friends.


by Danny Tuccitto :: Sat, 08/04/2012 - 3:34pm

Nope. Never had one. Looked up the recipe and see that it has one of my favorite cocktail ingredients, Angostura bitters, in it. (Not sure about the bubbly, though). Will have to give it a try.

I'll add that, whether while travelling abroad or by acquiring it here through "other" means, having a mojito with Havana Club instead of Bacardi makes a difference.

by Karl Cuba :: Sat, 08/04/2012 - 8:18pm

I could have read this wrong but it seems that you are under the impression that Bacardi is anything other than poor quality mouthwash. It's swill, I had half a bottle of the crap in my flat for about two years hoping that some drunken skank would finish it off before I chucked it out.

If you are dissolving paint then Bacardi is your brand.

by Mr Shush :: Sun, 08/05/2012 - 10:58am

I don't disagree, but if you ever find yourself in such dire circumstances as to force you to drink Sainsbury's own brand white rum, you will find yourself thinking longingly of that Bacardi. And I speak as someone who'll drink anything. Only yesterday I consumed half a bottle of strawberries and cream flavoured Sidekick (think McDonalds strawberry milkshake mixed with paraffin), a glass of home made wine that tasted almost exactly like lemon juice and about ten cans of warm Carling. I once drank half a magnum of something that called itself East Enders Lovely Bubbly, which had been sitting in the pub in the village where I grew up for at least 15 years and was neither particularly Bubbly nor in any way Lovely, but was impressively brown for something I'm fairly sure was supposed to be a sparkling white. But own brand white rum? Never again.

by Will Allen :: Sun, 08/05/2012 - 4:00pm

Worst booze I ever had was some whiskey in the Golden Triangle area in northern Thailand. I had no idea what grain was used in the distillation process. Rice? It sure didn't tatse like sake. I've never sipped turpentine, but that is what came to mind. We were out of Singha beer, however, so drink it I did. I was young then.

Bacardi is awful. My usual rum of choice is Ron Matusalem Clasico, which is quite nice, and only runs about 20 bucks for 750 ml.

by armchair journe... :: Sun, 08/05/2012 - 11:12pm

Worst booze I ever had was a beat-up bottle of Uzbekistan vodka (or at least, we think it was vodka), smuggled across the border and given as a gift from an Afghan colonel to my unit, stationed in the northern regions of the otherwise dry, Muslim country. It was not entirely unlike rubbing alcohol. But, having gone the better part of a year without such necessary victuals, we slugged it down with CocaCola and toasted to the colonel's wayward morals. Perhaps the only thing that saved us from vicious physical repercussions was the simple fact that a single bottle split a dozen ways doesn't allow one much chance to over-imbibe.


by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 6:12pm

So you're saying that MIN's receivers were so bad, MIN's defensive backs could actually cover them?

Or is that a war of the stoppable fighting the vincible?

by Will Allen :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 7:40pm

Good grief, you've just put forth a frightening image!

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 08/02/2012 - 5:17am

I imagine a situation from Donny's days with Minnesota when McNabb throws a ball into the grass near a receiver, the Vikings receiver fails to catch it but fails while the defensive back simultaneously fails to force the incompletion. All of this combines to leave the ball hovering in the air like a superconductor in a magnetic field.

by akn :: Thu, 08/02/2012 - 2:13pm

Great scott, the Vikings have invented a high temperature superconductor!

by TomC :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 8:39pm

The nice thing about McNabb being lousy last year...

I actually don't think you can call putting up positive DYAR in that offense being lousy. Ponder was lousy (-404 DYAR, -31.5% DVOA); McNabb was just mediocre. But mediocre is so much better than what Ponder was that McNabb put up basically the same number of EYDS in half the attempts.

by dryheat :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 3:32pm

Yep. Good thing the Vikings have made contingency plans for 2012.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 3:47pm

Eh, short of kidnapping, brainwashing, and signing Peyton Manning, 2012 was always going to be a likely 4-6 win season in that division. May as well confirm Ponder's disaster status while getting their asses whipped.

by koma (not verified) :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 7:17pm

Keep in mind that they do get to play the NFC West and AFC South, arguably the two worst divisions in football, as well as last-place NFC games against Tampa Bay and Saint Louis. I doubt that they could have made the playoffs, but 8 wins wasn't out of the question.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 7:46pm

I just can't see them doing better than 1-5 in the division. I suppose they could go 7-3 outside the division, but that seems to be a very extreme reach. I'd say 7 wins is their ceiling, if they catch almost every break imaginable, absent Christian Ponder stepping out of a phone booth with a cape on.

by BigCheese :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 1:35pm

I would be shocked if the Vikings sniffed 6 wins, let alone 7.

Even though I'm of the firm belief that the Lion's ceiling is 9 wins (and I highly dout even that), even so I can't believe they'll be swept by the Vokings, so that means they get, at most, one win in the Division. Where are the other 6 coming from?

Jags, @Colts, @Redskins, Cardinals @Rams and.............. Titans I guess could be the 6th one.

OK, yeah, I can see them getting to 7 if everything falls their way.

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by jimbohead :: Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:29pm

minor minor quibble: NFCN plays NFCW, therefore MIN's last place NFC games will be against TB and WAS, not TB and STL, as STL is in the NFCW. It's just one game, but indications are that WAS will likely be better than STL this year (FOA agrees, listing STL with 4.9 mean wins against a poor schedule, and WAS with 6.8 wins against an average schedule).

by Will Allen :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 3:44pm

I'm very interested in what happens to Alex Smith's stats if Randy Moss actually wants to play football this year. I know eventually Moss really will be physically unable to consistently defeat NFL corners, but I still don't think that day has arrived yet, and his deficiencies to date have mostly been between his ears. I think there is a chance the Niners could get 6 months of work out of him before his next bout with psychosis, and if that is the case, Alex Smith is suddenly about to become a much improved qb, even from last year's standard.

IF that happens (and is a an "IF", no doubt), we will have proof positive that Moss, for all his glaring and documented mental deficiencies, is probably worthy of first year HOF induction. I've never seen a guy have his impact by just lining up and running 9s, with the occasional change of pace route thrown in.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 3:53pm

Teams couldn't even get five minutes of good behavior out of him last year - what makes you think the 9er's will get 6 months out of him? With him and Jacobs, the 9er's are just begging for nonsense to over-shadow their season. If they get out to a slow start, watch out...

by Will Allen :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 4:10pm

Nobody ever gets anything out of Moss. He either wants to do something, or he doesn't. I suspect he wants money this year (I also suspect that he had some off the field stuff affecting his outlook the last couple years), and I would hope the Niners structured his contract in a way that rewards him for not going full straight jacket until after the season.

I would agree that if the Niners fall significantly behind in the division race early on, things will get ugly. I don't think that will happen.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 5:41pm

Moss received a small signing bonus and has to earn the rest. He can be cut with very little damage by the niners. All reports suggest he is acting the model citizen and is fully buying into the 49ers program in all ways, which I hope will continue.

As to your other point, I thought he was a first ballot HOFer before the niners signed him and even if he flames out in a strop this season I will still maintain that view.

by duh :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 5:56pm

To be clear, I agree with you that Moss ought to be a 1st ballot HOF, but it won't work that way in my estimation. Too many people think he dogged it way too much for a 1st ballot HOF.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 8:00pm

I am going to watch the Niners a lot this year, becasue I think there is a chance we are going to see a real test of football theories this season, regarding qb and receiver interdependence, and interdpendence within a receiver group. I was hoping that Manning would sign with the Niners because I always follow the NFC more closely, and I thought it would be fun. However, keeping Smith in place really allows for some variables to be viewed in a more isolated fashion. If Smith puts up upper echelon numbers, and Vernon Davis' average per attempt increases a lot, with Moss attracting a lot of attention, that'll be very interesting in terms of how we evaluate individual performance.

by Dred :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 5:31pm

How consistent are these numbers over a mutli-year period?