Possibly the closest Super Bowl matchup in history also poses the question: how much does it mean when certain aspects of an NFL team improve dramatically in the second half of the season?
30 Sep 2011
by J.J. Cooper
Do scrambling quarterbacks lose more yardage on their sacks then less mobile quarterbacks? The answer appears to be no.
In fact, the opposite appears to be true. In response to Eddo’s comment on the first Under Pressure, here’s a look at the average yards lost per sack from 2009-to-present for every quarterback with 20 or more sacks.
|Yards Lost per Sack, 2009-Week 3, 2011|
|Quarterback||Sacks||Yards Lost||Yards Lost per Sack||Quarterback||Sacks||Yards Lost||Yards Lost per Sack||Quarterback||Sacks||Yards Lost||Yards Lost per Sack|
|Jake Delhomme||29||229||7.89||Jimmy Clausen||33||222||6.72||David Garrard||75||469||6.25|
|Carson Palmer||52||405||7.78||Derek Anderson||36||240||6.66||Matt Cassel||68||423||6.22|
|Matt Stafford||33||249||7.54||Bruce Gradkowski||22||146||6.63||Matt Schaub||63||391||6.20|
|Kurt Warner||24||178||7.41||Jason Campbell||78||517||6.62||Mark Sanchez||62||383||6.17|
|Kerry Collins||24||177||7.37||Matt Hasselbeck||65||428||6.58||Ryan Fitzpatrick||46||280||6.08|
|Eli Manning||56||404||7.21||Shaun Hill||35||229||6.54||Alex Smith||58||348||6.00|
|Drew Brees||51||367||7.19||Jay Cutler||101||658||6.51||Tom Brady||44||264||6.00|
|Sam Bradford||45||321||7.13||Joe Flacco||83||538||6.48||Michael Vick||38||228||6.00|
|Donovan McNabb||80||569||7.11||Peyton Manning||26||167||6.42||JaMarcus Russell||33||198||6.00|
|Ben Roethlisberger||91||641||7.04||Josh Freeman||52||333||6.40||Colt McCoy||26||152||5.84|
|Matt Moore||22||153||6.95||Chad Henne||67||422||6.29||Philip Rivers||69||399||5.78|
|Trent Edwards||34||234||6.88||Kyle Orton||71||447||6.29||Tony Romo||47||263||5.59|
|Brett Favre||56||384||6.85||Aaron Rodgers||87||546||6.27||Jon Kitna||21||114||5.42|
|Kevin Kolb||26||176||6.76||Matt Ryan||55||344||6.25||Vince Young||22||118||5.36|
What’s notable is that the the quarterbacks with the lowest yards per sack include many of the most agile quarterbacks in the league. Michael Vick, Vince Young,and Colt McCoy are all known for their agility.
At the other end of the spectrum, Carson Palmer, Kurt Warner and Kerry Collins all rank among the top 10 of most yards lost per sack. Apparently, slow feet bring longer sacks as part of the package. One of the best ways to explain it is that mobile quarterbacks often try to run when they are pressured -— sometimes that results in sacks at the line of scrimmage or just behind the line of scrimmage. Less mobile quarterbacks are less likely to try to run for positive yardage.
It’s also notable that the spread between the quarterbacks with the shortest average sack and the longest average sack is over three yards per sack.
Along those lines, it's worth looking at whether the time of a sack makes a difference in the yards lost. Looking at every sack since 2009, the answer is yes.
|Yards Lost per Sack by Time Elapsed, 2009-Week 3, 2011|
|Time of Sack (Seconds)||Average Yards Lost|
|0 to 1.5||5.87|
|1.6 to 2.0||7.52|
|2.1 to 2.5||7.27|
|2.6 to 3||6.92|
|3.1 to 3.5||6.21|
|3.6 to 4||5.41|
|4.1 and up||4.49|
It's not surprising that extremely quick sacks result in less lost yardage -- most sacks that take place in 1.5 seconds or less come on three- and five-step drops or when the quarterback just falls down. But it's notable that the most yards lost comes when a quarterback is sacked in 1.6 to 2.5 seconds. Once we enter into the land of long-duration sacks, the yardage lost goes down the longer the quarterback holds the ball.
Anecdotally, after watching every sack since 2009, the best explanation I can come up with is that many of the longest sacks are on bootlegs where a quarterback runs out of bounds or is caught at the sideline close to the line of scrimmage. For some of the other long sacks, they come when a quarterback tries to scramble after being pressured, which again leads to shorter distance sacks.
Since we're talking about yards lost, it's worth noting that the longest sack in yardage lost this week was a 13-yard loss by Tavaris Jackson when Cardinals outside linebacker Joey Porter drove tackle Russell Okung back into Jackson.
It wasn’t the longest sack of the week, but it’s hard to find a more crucial one than Rex Grossman’s 4.1-second sack and fumble that clinched the Cowboys’ victory. Anthony Spencer did run Grossman down and force the sack, but it was DeMarcus Ware that actually causing the sack.
The Cowboys sent three, and right tackle Jammal Brown, who had been terrorized by DeMarcus Ware for most of the night, did a decent job blocking Anthony Spencer. Spencer showed a speed rush, and Brown routed him well past Grossman to the outside, although in doing so, he did lose contact with Spencer once Spencer had gotten past him.
But on the other side of the line, Ware used a speed move to split the double-team of Trent Williams and Kory Lichtensteiger. Although he didn’t get the sack, that pressure forced Grossman to roll out of the pocket.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick has described behind the quarterback as the worst place a pass rusher can be, but in this case, it was a great place to be. As Grossman rolled out, Spencer ran him down from behind and ripped out the football. The Cowboys recovered and the game was over.
Ware’s pressure came only 2.3 seconds after the snap, not enough time to really find someone open when there are eight men in coverage. Grossman did have time to get rid of the ball before Spencer ran him down, but he never saw Spencer coming from behind him.
The Lions are 3-0, which means that it’s hard to find any Lions fan complaining about anything these days -- if you’ve survived Matt Millen and 0-16, then 3-0 is a level of bliss you’ve never dreamed of seeing in person.
But in the Lions’ win over the Vikings on Sunday, there was a cause for concern when it came to pass protection. Detroit's tackles Gosder Cherilus and Jeff Backus simply couldn't handle the speed of Jared Allen and Brian Robison.
Allen picked up three sacks and Robison added two more. Forget about the number of sacks allowed for a second -- the time of the sacks should be disconcerting for the Lions. All five of those sacks came in 2.5 seconds or less. Cherlius and Backus were barely slowing Allen and Robison down.
Before Vick left the game with a bruised hand, he was pulled down by Jason Pierre-Paul in one of the more impressive sacks of the week. At the snap, Pierre-Paul beat Jason Peters off the line, then also dodged the block of running back LeSean McCoy. By doing that, he managed to flush Vick out of the pocket. Vick still had time to get rid of the ball, but eventually Pierre-Paul ran Vick down from behind, 6.1 seconds after the snap.
Many times a great individual effort like Pierre-Paul's will end up ensuring someone else gets a sack. But in this case, the man who deserved the sack got the credit for it as well.
The quickest sacks of the week are usually based on blown assignments or a tripping quarterback. This week, Bears guard Chris Williams seemed to fall into the first category.
Against the Packers, Williams blocked down, helping out the center. There was one problem: Jarius Wynn was lined up head up on him. No one else picked up Wynn, so he got the easiest sack he'll get all year, pulling down Jay Cutler only 1.7 seconds after the snap.
19 comments, Last at 03 Oct 2011, 9:59am by RichC