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23 Sep 2011

Under Pressure: The Short of It

by J.J. Cooper

In last week’s first Under Pressure, we looked at the quarterbacks who hold the ball and pick up long sacks. It’s fitting that this week we look at the other end of the spectrum -- quick sacks. To register a quick sack, the defender must make initial contact with the quarterback in 2.5 seconds or less.

There will be times where I’ll present data, and may not have a great explanation of what it means. This is not one of those times. It’s pretty easy to explain why the Colts have the highest percentage of "quick sacks" allowed.

Peyton Manning may be the king of avoiding the long sack -- the kind of play where a quarterback holds the ball and gives the defenders second and third chances to beat their man. It's been a long-held truth that Manning's quick release has masked Indianapolis' offensive line problems for a few years now, and since 2009, the statistics back that up. Indianapolis had, by far, the highest percentage of quick sacks in the league.

Percentage of Quick Sacks Allowed out of All Sacks, 2009-Week 2 2011
Team < 2.5 Second Sacks Total Sacks Percentage Team < 2.5 Second Sacks Total Sacks Percentage Team < 2.5 Second Sacks Total Sacks Percentage
IND 21 34 61.76% CLE 20 69 28.99% OAK 22 92 23.91%
NO 22 49 44.90% DET 20 69 28.99% SD 16 68 23.53%
CIN 28 63 44.44% ATL 16 59 27.12% PIT 23 99 23.23%
SEA 37 86 43.02% TB 18 67 26.87% NYG 12 55 21.82%
ARI 32 81 39.51% CHI 27 102 26.47% HOU 13 61 21.31%
STL 31 85 36.47% GB 25 95 26.32% DEN 16 82 19.51%
SF 32 90 35.56% NE 12 46 26.09% MIN 13 74 17.57%
DAL 25 71 35.21% BUF 21 81 25.93% BAL 14 81 17.28%
MIA 26 78 33.33% JAC 22 86 25.58% TEN 7 44 15.91%
CAR 29 91 31.87% NYJ 16 63 25.40% KC 13 82 15.85%
WAS 29 97 29.90% PHI 22 89 24.72% League Average 21.25 74.65 28.46%

On the other end of the spectrum, the Titans don’t have many quick sacks because they don’t allow many sacks at all. But there are also several teams whose quick sack numbers don’t look that excessive (like the Steelers or Bears) even though they have a large number of sacks that took 2.5 seconds or longer, which may be an indication that either the offensive scheme or the quarterback’s tendency to hold the ball may be more to blame than many may believe.

But there may be other explanations here as well. With the exception of times where the quarterback falls down (hey it happened to Donovan McNabb three times), most quick sacks can be explained as either a great play by a defender or (more likely) the ability of the defense to get a pass rusher a free run at the quarterback.

Because of that, the numbers for quick sacks for the defense is maybe even more interesting. The teams with a large number of quick sacks are generally ones who have excellent edge rushers -- no surprise there. But you could also make a decent argument that the teams with the largest percentage of quick sacks are ones with mediocre or poor secondaries.

Percentage of Quick Sacks Recorded out of All Sacks, 2009-Week 2 2011
Team < 2.5 Second Sacks Total Sacks Percentage Team < 2.5 Second Sacks Total Sacks Percentage Team < 2.5 Second Sacks Total Sacks Percentage
HOU 26 65 40.00% BAL 20 63 31.75% KC 15 62 24.19%
IND 26 66 39.39% PIT 29 101 28.71% ATL 15 64 23.44%
TEN 29 77 37.66% OAK 25 91 27.47% TB 13 56 23.21%
SEA 25 67 37.31% NO 21 77 27.27% MIA 20 87 22.99%
DAL 32 86 37.21% ARI 22 82 26.83% NYG 19 84 22.62%
SF 31 86 36.05% BUF 16 60 26.67% WAS 17 76 22.37%
DET 27 75 36.00% NYJ 21 79 26.58% DEN 14 64 21.88%
MIN 28 82 34.15% CAR 17 65 26.15% CHI 15 74 20.27%
STL 25 74 33.78% SD 22 85 25.88% CLE 14 75 18.67%
PHI 31 95 32.63% GB 22 89 24.72% NE 13 74 17.57%
JAC 14 43 32.56% CIN 16 65 24.62% League Average 21.25 74.65 28.46%

For instance, the Texans’ secondary has been a cesspool of suck over the past two seasons, so it isn’t that shocking that 40 percent of their sacks were quick sacks -- either Mario Williams and the rest of the Texans’ pass rush gets there quickly, or there’s usually going to be someone open.

Jared Allen is the king of the quick sack. Since the 2009 season began, Allen has 12 sacks where he reached the quarterback in under 2.5 seconds. The Patriots, lacking a great edge rusher, have 13 quick sacks as a team over the same timeframe.

The numbers for the defenders that pick up the most quick sacks is notable in just how many of the names are players you'd expect to be there. Allen, Dwight Freeney and DeMarcus Ware are three of the highest-regarded pass rushers in the game. When it comes to picking up quick sacks, it pays to have a great first step.

Quick Sack Leaders, 2009-Week 2 2011
Player Team Quick Sacks
Jared Allen MIN 12
Dwight Freeney IND 11
DeMarcus Ware DAL 10.5
Chris Clemons PHI/SEA 9.5
Jason Babin PHI/TEN 9
LaMarr Woodley PIT 8.5
Robert Mathis IND 8.5
Cliff Avril DET 8
Justin Smith SF 7.5
Clay Matthews GB 7.5

On to this week’s sacks:

GOING ALL OUT

Saints’ defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is one of the most aggressive defensive coordinators in the league. Put him against the somewhat leaky offensive line like the Bears and he ramps up the pressure even more.

Once the Saints took a lead into the second half, Robinson decided to amplify things even further. The Saints sacked Jay Cutler six times in the second half, and on four of the six sacks, the Saints dialed up a seven-man rush. Another sack came with a six-man rush. On four of the six sacks, a rusher came in untouched.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise for the Bears -- nearly 25 percent of the Saints sacks since 2009 have come on seven (and eight-man) blitzes. But it was the kind of all-out beating where the Bears simply didn’t have any answers. There are times you can blame the Bears pass-protection issues on their offensive line and there are times you can blame it on Cutler’s tendency to hold the ball. But on a day like Sunday, it’s hard not to blame everything. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz called pass plays on 38 of the Bears final 40 offensive plays. Knowing that Cutler would be dropping back, the Saints sent blitz after blitz, and it worked. But the Bears also failed to handle a simple four-man rush at the end of the game -- they let a defensive end come through untouched.

VETERAN MOVE OF THE WEEK

Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor’s first step isn’t as quick as it used to be, but he showed against the Texans that he can sometimes make up for that with savvy. In the third quarter of the Dolphins’ loss to the Texans, Taylor figured out quarterback Matt Schaub’s snap count well enough that he fired out of his stance before the ball was ever snapped. By the time the ball was snapped, Taylor, who had lined up in a two-point stance, was already a full half-step into his rush. Despite that, he hadn’t yet crossed the line of scrimmage. By the time Texans’ left tackle Duane Brown made his first drop step, Taylor was already nearly by him. By the time Brown made his kick step, Schaub was in trouble. Taylor recorded the sack in only 1.9 seconds, while Brown threw out his arms in exasperation over what he was sure was a missed offsides penalty. But slow-motion made it clear that Taylor hadn’t jumped. He’d just timed everything perfectly.

WORST SACK DANCE

There are some pretty bad ones, but the most contrived may be Texans defensive tackle Antonio Smith’s. After he brought down Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne last Sunday, he pulled an imaginary sword out of an imaginary scabbard, swung the sword around a la Zorro, then resheathed it.

LONG SACK OF THE WEEK

There were a number of long sacks this week. Cam Newton ran around for 6.8 seconds buying time before eventually getting run down by Clay Matthews. Philip Rivers had a 7.0 second sack on a rollout against the Patriots. But the longest sack of the week was Matt Cassel’s attempt to buy time for a Hail Mary on the final play of the first half in the Chiefs’ blowout loss to the Lions. Cassel ran around, reversed field and then scrambled around some more, but he never did get the pass off. Total time elapsed? 8.9 seconds.

Although he didn’t have the longest sack of the week, Seahawks quarterback Tavaris Jackson deserves credit (or more accurately blame) for having a pair of sacks that took more than five seconds. Jackson tried to run once and was caught at the line. On the other five-second sack, he held the ball long enough that Steelers linebacker James Harrison had tiime to come up from his short zone coverage and haul him down.

QUICK SACK OF THE WEEK

49ers quarterback Alex Smith had the week’s quickest sack at 1.6 seconds, and he managed to get pulled down that quickly twice. As you would expect on such a quick sack, neither was really his fault. On one of the sacks, Cowboys end Anthony Spencer blew up a slow-developing screen. On the other, Jason Hatcher was left unblocked as the Cowboys sent seven rushers against a six-man protection scheme.

Posted by: J.J. Cooper on 23 Sep 2011

47 comments, Last at 28 Sep 2011, 12:17pm by Pata

Comments

1
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 12:59pm

"But you could also make a decent argument that the teams with the largest percentage of quick sacks are ones with mediocre or poor secondaries"

Except that the Patriots have the lowest quick-sack ratio, despite a poor secondary.

4
by drobviousso :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 1:34pm

Yes, but their pass rush is still worse than there secondary.

11
by RichC (not verified) :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 4:09pm

The Patriots secondary is fine. Their pass rush is the problem.

The corners (McCourty and Bodden) are both good, and one of the safeties is good (chung), while the other is a complete unknown.

2
by bkjsun :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 1:23pm

That's pretty interesting. It's seems INDy's problems are magnified by the fact that they're in a division with HOU and TEN who are the best at getting quick sacks. Even JAC is pretty high up there. Then again the correlation probably goes both ways, HOU and TEN are helped by playing IND, cause it looks like those offenses give up the least quick sacks.

Also, I'm guessing the headings are actually supposed to be "< 2.5 seconds" not "> 2.5 seconds".

35
by Thok :: Sat, 09/24/2011 - 4:10pm

The Colts don't have a problem with quick sacks: they give them up at a league average rate (and given that they never run the ball, league average is actually above average on a per pass play basis.) It's just that Manning is so good at avoiding long sacks that being merely decent at avoiding quick sacks looks bad.

3
by DGL :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 1:29pm

This is crying out for an X-Y plot - say, total sacks on the X-axis and short sacks on the Y. I, however, am too lazy to import the data into excel and plot it. (Hint hint.)

5
by justanothersteve :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 1:55pm

Really interesting. I do have a couple questions. 1 - Who is Chris Clemons? Should he be a household name. I recognized all the other names on that quick sack list. But that was a new one. 2 - Shouldn't NE be 17.57%. One sack shouldn't make that much difference between them and Cleveland.

6
by Roadspike73 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 2:18pm

Chris Clemons is a Defensive End for the Seattle Seahawks. He had 11 sacks last year. He often plays opposite Raheem Brock on passing downs. You might remember Raheem Brock for the fine he just received for being pushed into Big Ben's legs.

7
by BSR :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 3:07pm

I would imagine that part of the blame for quick sacks, particularly in those instances where the rusher comes in free, are attributable to the QB reading the defense incorrectly. If this is putting the blame on the line, I would think those plays should be removed.

8
by Biebs :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 3:24pm

I would love to see the number for quick sacks by LB/DE (Or more detailed) Quick Sacks by # of men rushed.

I firmly believe that the Jets defense is saved by their secondary and that they have no pass rush to speak of, however, they seem to be right in the middle of the pack of Quick Sacks/Total Sacks. I suspect this has to do with the fact that Ryan blitzes from the secondary often (17.5 Of Jets 72 Sacks in 2009-2010 came from CB/DB - I don't know how that compares to the average)

This certainly really interesting stuff, and appreciate the time that you do put into it.

9
by nat :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 3:45pm

When you are looking at "Quick Sacks" the relevant number to compare to is "Drop Backs" not "Total Sacks". Just compute a "Quick Sack Rate". That's the ranking you need for this analysis.

When you look at "Quick Sack Rate" the Colts are a top half team. (I didn't compute the whole table so I can't tell you how far up they are.) Manning dropped back to pass more than 700 times in 2010. Only Drew Brees came close. So a few extra "quick sacks" are to be expected. And even if you just look at Quick Sack raw counts, the Colts pass protection is still doing better than league average.

Your "long held truth" about the Colts turns out to be a falsehood as this data clearly shows. Manning wasn't masking bad pass protection. He and the open receivers he threw to were making better than average protection look statistically great.

I've been saying for a while that Colts fans were wrong to complain that their pass protection was terrible. Turns out I was right.

12
by Purds :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 4:17pm

Have you been watching Colt games or just guessing? I'm guessing you haven't watched nearly as many as Colt fans.
I can see your numerical idea/theory here, and the basics are sound. However, you're looking only at what supports your preconceived notion. These stats don't come close to recording the number of times a QB like Manning has had to throw the quick slant or incomplete instead of taking the sack, all because his line can't block for more than 2.5 seconds. Yes, it records the number of times he is sacked, but not the number of times he must get rid of the ball by then.

Let me do it in your numbers way: if Manning were to drop back 10 times, get sacked just once in less than 2.5 seconds, and once in 3 seconds, it might seem like he has better protection than another QB (call hm Evertman) who drops back 10 times and gets sacked 3 times. But, what of the other 8 times Manning wasn't sacked? Did he have 4 seconds to throw each of the other times? Or, did Manning have to get rid of the ball in 2.5 seconds every time except the one time he was sacked, while Everyman QB had 6 seconds every time except the one time he was rush sacked?
Sample problem set of numbers:
Manning drops back 10 times, has less than 3 seconds 9 times (1 sack), and more than 3 seconds 1 time (1 sack).
Everyman drops back 10 times, has less than 3 seconds 1 time (1 sack), and more than 5 seconds 9 times (2 sacks).

One, ia m not saying those ARE the numbers, but that could easily be the trend of the numbers, and under your stats theory you'd completely misinterpret Manning's level of protection.

Get my point? You can't prove the Colts had good line protection just because Maning wasn't sacked more. There are many, many other bad consequences to poor pass protection, and those in particular that Colts fans have seen in glaring examples the past few years: little to no time to throw downfield, opposing defenses have no need to play back and so they stack the box against the run because Manning won't have the time to throw deep if he does throw, more incomplete passes (throwaways), more short passes that do not stretch the field.

10
by dbostedo :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 3:57pm

Worst sack dance? I like to think maybe it's an homage to Chi Chi Rodriguez.

13
by Intropy :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 4:41pm

I thought that too. But if that is indeed the case, then it was a very badly executed homage to Chi Chi Rodriguez.

24
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 10:58pm

It was obviously a poor copy of Tony Scheffler's TD celebration against the Bucs in week 1. Why you would copy that for a sack dance is beyond me.

14
by QQ (not verified) :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 4:42pm

Anyone else find the word choice a little amusing for a quick 1.6 second sack to occur on a slow developing play.

15
by nat :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 6:36pm

Here's the percentage of dropbacks [attempts + sacks] resulting in sacks of <2.5 seconds for the same period as covered in the article. You'll notice that the ranking is quite different from the misleading ranking given by just comparing to total sacks. Some teams that are constantly complained about turn out to be quite good at giving their QB 2.5 seconds or more to throw the ball.

Quick Sack Rate 2009-2010
TEN 0.70%
NE 1.05%
NYG 1.06%
HOU 1.06%
MIN 1.15%
KC 1.19%
BAL 1.29%
DEN 1.31%
ATL 1.33%
SD 1.41%
DET 1.55%
IND 1.60%
NYJ 1.63%
TB 1.66%
NO 1.75%
PHI 1.83%
BUF 2.02%
CLE 2.02%
JAC 2.05%
OAK 2.06%
PIT 2.06%
DAL 2.09%
GB 2.10%
MIA 2.20%
WAS 2.35%
CHI 2.39%
CIN 2.48%
STL 2.55%
ARI 2.59%
CAR 2.79%
SF 2.86%
SEA 2.99%

16
by John (not verified) :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 7:01pm

I might by your argument (implied here, explicit above) if you can also provide meaningful numbers around the length of time Manning kept the ball before throwing it.

In other words, if Manning threw more passes in <2.5 seconds than anyone else in the league, it might establish that (as Colts fans contend) he has subpar pass protection but is making the most of it.

18
by Purds :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 7:11pm

Well, that could be misleading because some teams have a designed high number of quick throws, like bubble screens, and that doesn't mean they have bad protection. Those types of quick releases mint be by design.

17
by Purds :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 7:09pm

Nat, thanks for doing the legwork, but I hope you did it in a spreadsheet, because this does not prove what you're implying. But, you can make it prove what you're implying if you add pressures in 2.5 or less to the sack totals. The right forumla for what you're seeking is:

Forced fast release % = (sacks in less than 2.5 seconds + pressures in less than 2.5 seconds) / total attempts (passes + sacks in less than 2.5 seconds + QB scrambles)

Now, if you solved for that FFR % and the numbers and rankings were the same, I'd agree. Until then, you're simply ignoring a huge potentially different number for different quarterbacks, the number of times they are forced to get rid of the ball or run in under 2.5 seconds but don't take a sack.

19
by nat :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 7:36pm

I don't have pressures stats, and I think you do not either. But the last time we had QB Hits stats here, the Colts were second best in the league. No doubt, Manning gets all the credit for that, too.

I think you have a preconceived notion, and are showing all the classic signs of confirmation bias. Adjusted Sack Rates, Quick Sack rates, and QB hits all point toward better than average protection. But your gut tells you that any hit on Manning is one too many, so you ignore the stats and claim his line must have been terrible.

20
by Purds :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 8:32pm

Simple foolishness, nat. You refute FO's way of looking at stats, create a formula that does no better to see the truth (than the admittedly flawed FO plan), and then claim you're the only one who knows what is right. Inevitably, without seeing a Colt game, you know how much time Manning has even though your only stats are clearly flawed, but you take your own version of flawed stats to prove FO's flawed stats are right.

Look, I don't mind the assertion that the Colts have had great protection, but where is the proof? Answer the logical problems in your stats that I stated above, and I'll believe you. Until then, you have no argument except your own bias. Heck, you don't even entertain the possibility that you're wrong about the Colts line. I can believe that my eyes have been wrong, but you shown no proof. Let's see it. Until then, don't ast like incomplete stats prove anything.

I'm not so dumb as to say, for example, that using your stats proves that Brady's had the second best line protection of all based on your flawed numbers. I can't say he has or hasn't, and neither than you. If you want to use stats, they need to be fool-proof, or you have to admit the potential flaws in the numbers. You won't even admit that possibility.

21
by Purds :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 8:44pm

Oh, and we'll see you the numbers play out, but the Colts O-line protection this you by FO stats of sack % put them ranked at #19. Yeah, that's only 2 weeks of data, but a far cry from #1 for the past few years, when some dude was throwing the ball getting sacked at way less than half of what the 2011 version is being sacked.

22
by nat :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 10:30pm

So what? They're playing with a replacement level QB. And they're still with one sack of being an above average OL in pass protection. That looks like an above average line with a new and bad QB, combines with small sample size. Of course, they have some new people, so they could have gotten better or worse. But regardless, we were looking at 2009-2010 stats, so that's just a red herring anyway.

26
by Purds :: Sat, 09/24/2011 - 3:07am

Of course it was a red herring, and I wanted you to respond. So clearly, you're reading the posts. Now, how about the real argument, that you're using false info? Tell me how the stats you chose explain at all the times a guy has less than 2.5 seconds and throws it away and is not sacked? You're acting like every QB in that situation acts the same (as in, you're completely discounting that area of stats), and yet you just said that QB's are not all alike (Collins is a worse QB than most, you just said).

How about giving some logic to your original selective choice of numbers, and proving something, instead of guessing. Just look up a few responses above this to see the logic flaws in your position. Cure me of those problems, and I'll believe you. Until then, you're just guessing.

27
by Jerry :: Sat, 09/24/2011 - 4:20am

I'm thrilled that we have the data we have. It will be much more useful if/when we also get the time on passes that were thrown, but I'm sure that's a more intense project than J.J.'s willing or able to undertake.

Until we can tell what Manning's DVOA is on passes under 2.5 seconds, we'll have to live with discussions like this.

28
by Purds :: Sat, 09/24/2011 - 8:27am

I completely agree, Jerry. I just think we should admit, during the debate, that the numbers to this point can only augment our arguments, not prove them.

30
by nat :: Sat, 09/24/2011 - 1:50pm

I think you've got it backwards. We should start with the data, and augment with our other observations and theories. Otherwise, we'll start with "Player X is a god" and let confirmation bias rule the day.

Instead we can start with the data: The Colts OL seems to have done a good to excellent job at pass protection 2009-2010. They certainly got excellent results. But they look small and unable to hold a pocket for a long time. What's going on? Follow that line of investigation and we might learn something about what an OL is supposed to do. (Hint: it's more important to make all the right initial blocks than it is to hold a block for 3.5 seconds)

It's much more interesting to start with good stats and try to find out something you didn't know than it is to start with your conclusions and work backward by selecting or denying evidence to suit your bias.

This isn't about proving things. It's about having an open mind and learning things.

32
by Purds :: Sat, 09/24/2011 - 2:27pm

What do you learn when you have the numbers for only half a formula?

Again, I'll restate my problem with your interpretation:

Forced fast release % = (sacks in less than 2.5 seconds + pressures in less than 2.5 seconds) / total attempts (passes + sacks in less than 2.5 seconds + QB scrambles)

Now, if you solved for that FFR % and the numbers and rankings were the same, I'd agree. Until then, you're simply ignoring a huge potentially different number for different quarterbacks, the number of times they are forced to get rid of the ball or run in under 2.5 seconds but don't take a sack.

36
by BenM (not verified) :: Sat, 09/24/2011 - 11:39pm

This is an excellent point, and probably speaks to someone's earlier point of "what's the impact of a QB/C always calling the right protection scheme."

Given that the Colts have been headlined by an excellent QB/C combo, it would make sense that they're good at getting the right blocking scheme/audibling into a quick pass, which would disguise a subpar o-line in this anallysis, since it's a binary dataset.

Maybe something like average time/sack would be more useful metric to analyze o-lines. This seems better suited to analyzing a team's pass-rush than pass-protection.

25
by Exy (not verified) :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 11:44pm

^^^^What he said, and mind you that's with the former QB of the team with the best quick sack percentage of the time frame studied.

31
by nat :: Sat, 09/24/2011 - 2:04pm

Good point. Although he's now playing with a very different line than Manning had.

I think a few weeks ago I asserted that the Colts line would be fine after Collins settled in. I had missed that they only carried over two starters. At this point I'd say they will be fine if those three new guys turn out to be average to good. They were high draft picks, I think. So there's some cause to have hope.

Mostly it's irrelevant to the 2009-2010 discussion, since the personnel has changed so much. But I am less confident in the Colts line now that I remember they aren't remotely the line that had those excellent 2009-2010 stats.

34
by tuluse :: Sat, 09/24/2011 - 3:54pm

So your assertion is that the Colts have replaced linemen who are excellent at pass blocking with ones that are sub par, in a single off season, when they could have easily kept the previous lineman.

37
by nat :: Sun, 09/25/2011 - 7:22am

I didn't say sub-par. I said "new" and "high draft pick". It usually takes a year for a line to come together, so it'll be next year before we really know if these moves were good or bad.

There are plenty of reasons that teams change personnel beyond "suckitude". Salary cap, age, and injury come to mind. Maybe the Colts knew the surgery was coming up and decided to rejuvenate the line this year. Plus, I'm not saying that the Colts were right to change personnel. I don't read minds.

46
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 09/26/2011 - 8:54am

The addition of epicycles is never good for a theory.

43
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Sun, 09/25/2011 - 12:48pm

Wow, check out the NFC West with all 4 in the bottom 5!

23
by KK Probs (not verified) :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 10:32pm

The main theory here is that sacks of less than 2.5 seconds are essentially not the fault of the QB because they have almost no chance to avoid a sack within that amount of time. They are the fault of the blocking scheme, or of a defensive player badly out-witting an offensive blocker right after the snap. After 2.5 seconds, the QB takes some responsibility for a sack because he should have had a chance to throw the ball away. That reasoning may be incorrect, but for a first crack at this type of data, those assumptions seem reasonable enough to me.

One way of looking at this data that is interesting to me is to try figure out how good/bad a QB is at avoiding sacks on a per pass play basis, not counting the Short Sack plays where he theoretically had no chance. If we take the total number of pass attempts, add the total number of sacks, and then subtract out the number of short sacks (<2.5 seconds), we have the number of times where the QB either made a pass attempt or theoretically had enough time to do so (>2.5 seconds). In the table below, I call any time the QB either had more than 2.5 seconds to make a pass or actually did make a pass, a Legitimate Passing Opportunity. Using the stats in the article and NFL pass attempt stats, this table shows the percentage of times each team's QB was sacked per Legitimate Passing Opportunity in 2009-2010:

Team Long Sacks per Legitimate Passing Opportunity
IND 1.00%
NO 2.20%
NE 3.06%
CIN 3.20%
ATL 3.69%
TEN 3.86%
NYG 3.93%
DET 3.95%
DAL 4.00%
HOU 4.06%
SEA 4.11%
ARI 4.12%
MIA 4.61%
STL 4.64%
TB 4.73%
SD 4.82%
NYJ 5.03%
CLE 5.21%
SF 5.47%
MIN 5.68%
DEN 5.71%
WAS 5.83%
PHI 5.89%
BUF 6.12%
GB 6.25%
CAR 6.33%
JAC 6.34%
BAL 6.60%
KC 6.74%
OAK 7.01%
CHI 7.10%
PIT 7.33%

Using this metric, Manning, Brees, and Brady were the best percentage-wise at getting rid of the ball in time when they had an opportunity to do so and (mostly Big Ben) Pittsburgh QBs were the worst.

The defensive stats in the article here were good, too; I'd like to see that expanded in a future week. Among other things, I'm wondering if the Short Sack phenomena happens more often on blitzes.

33
by Joseph :: Sat, 09/24/2011 - 3:34pm

Now THIS is good data. Thanks KK.
Re: the argument between nat & Purds: both of you have good points; but I think KK's post gives Purds the edge here. Using his table, it shows how that the 3 best QB's in the game (no disrespect, Aaron Rodgers) get rid of the ball and avoid negative yardage plays (incompletes are better than sacks except on 4th down). PIT & CHI being the two worst show us that Big Ben & Cutler hold the ball WAAAAY too long, and Flacco & AR aren't looking good either. Matt Ryan looks good, though. Would love to revisit these #'s after this year.
[My guess--Colts w/o PM aren't as good in this metric; Eagles get worse; Boys improve slightly (Romo vs. Kitna); Cincy drops; Rams improve]

38
by nat :: Sun, 09/25/2011 - 7:46am

With all respect, Purds and I are not in disagreement about long sacks at all. Those are much more about QBs making good decisions and receivers getting open (or not) than about lines holding for 5 seconds. Total sacks and long sacks are very flawed metrics for measuring protection. On this point we are in total agreement.

The point (which Purds disagrees with) was that "Quick Sacks" are much more about protection, and thus are a good way to judge offensive lines. Purds would claim (if I get his points) that avoiding quick sacks is mostly about QBs releasing the ball quickly.

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by Nathan :: Sun, 09/25/2011 - 10:07am

And as a Pats fan, I would claim that avoiding quick sacks has a lot to do with using the hard count to show where the pressure is coming from and making sure you have it blocked / have a hot. There's a lot that goes into it. The quickest release in the world won't help you if all your receivers are running deep routes and your back is staying in to block.

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by Purds :: Sun, 09/25/2011 - 10:55am

Not completely what I was suggesting, but close to what I am trying to say. I would argue that some good QB's can mask a bad line's "quick sack" rates by simply throwing the ball away, or as Nathan says below, figuring out the defense pre-snap and creating a fix before the rush can get to him, even if it's less than 2.5 seconds.

I think we have the numbers to judge QB's here. My main argument is that we don't have the right information to judge the OFFENSIVE LINE's ability to protect. Nat was trying to use the numbers he worked up above (quick sacks per dropbacks) to suggest that the Colts line is actually better than average. If his numbers were complete, I would agree, but he and I can't access the number of pressures, times an offensive line lets the rush in very quickly but the QB does something other than get sacked. Yes, Nat's percentages show quick sacks per dropback, but what of all the other outcomes when a quick sack could have happened, but a good QB took another option (incomplete, throw away, quick slant hot read, etc.)? Now, just because a Manning or Brady or Brees makes a better-than-get-sacked option doesn't mean the offensive line is very good.

Again, maybe adding "pressures" would not significantly change Nat's percentages, and perhaps the Colts line is better than my eyes have seen. However, we can tell at least in Manning's case (and many other QB's, though I am focusing on the Colts O-line here) that he seems to be able, based on his low ratio of long sacks to short sacks, to make good decisions or at least ones that do not often result in sacks. It would make one think that Manning likely makes those decisions in quick sack situations as well, and thus I theorize that Nat's percentages that make the Colts line look better than average are actually not a reflection of their ability (or inability) to stop a pass rush. My eyes tell me Manning frequently had to throw the ball away, or throw before a receiver was ready, or keep tight ends in, because the line doesn't block very well.

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by tuluse :: Mon, 09/26/2011 - 2:37am

I would assert that the vast majority of all sacks are about QBs making quick decisions.

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by Nathan :: Sat, 09/24/2011 - 12:12pm

Doesn't Dumervil do some kind of sword dance or am I just making that up because his name sounds like a LOTR sword, like Glamdring, Andúril, Anguirel and Gúthwinë.

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by batbatt :: Sun, 09/25/2011 - 11:56am

Maybe you're thinking of Nick "Samurai" Barnett...

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by nuclearbdgr :: Mon, 09/26/2011 - 12:11am

Frank Zombo did the Zorro 'Z' after sacks last season.

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by Purds :: Sun, 09/25/2011 - 11:10am

As a side note, did FO check the numbers? When looking at FO's numbers from the past two years, and looking at pro football references, both have the Colts allowing 29 total sacks, but the chart above has the Colts at 34 total sacks. Am I missing something?

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by Pata (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2011 - 12:17pm

It is included the first games this season as well.