The Best (and Worst) Quarterbacks Under Pressure
Bill Barnwell put up a recent Extra Point linking the chat I did over at Washingtonpost.com to promote Football Outsiders Almanac 2010. Out of that link came a discussion about which quarterbacks put up the best DVOA under pressure last year. Donovan McNabb, who will be doing his thing behind a line that may not match the front five he had in Philadelphia. Adding Trent Williams and Jammal Brown will improve the tackle position, but the 2009 Redskins ranked 27th in Adjusted Sack Rate to Philly’s 20th. In addition, the Redskins led the league in allowed hurries according to our game charters – Washington quarterbacks were hurried on 22.9 percent (147) of their 610 passes and scrambles. The Eagles’ quarterbacks were hurried on 16.0 percent (109) of their 618 passes and scrambles.
Who had the best DVOA under pressure among starting quarterbacks last year? Among players with at least 20 plays under center or in shotgun, Aaron Rodgers was by far the best. Good news for him, since the combination of Rodgers’ “Waiting for Godot” impersonation in the pocket and the Packers’ injury-riddled offensive line had Rodgers under more pressures than any quarterback not named Jason Campbell and Jay Cutler – through both situations seemed to improve as the season went on.
The top 10 under pressure*:
|Table 1: Top Ten Quarterbacks Under Pressure|
And the bottom 10:
No surprise that Roethlisberger would be right up top as well; Leftwich’s third-worst ranking should raise a few red flags in the Steel City, acquired in Tampa Bay as it might have been. And with Arizona’s line still full of question marks from a pass-protection standpoint (the Cards’ new left side of Levi Brown and Alan Faneca had the most 2009 blown blocks of any 2010 tackle/guard combo), Leinart’s ability to do something under pressure might keep him ahead of Derek Anderson. The high rankings of Gradkowski and especially Wallace are more based on mobility than anything else – Wallace in particular was able to be somewhat efficient despite abysmal pass protection and former offensive coordinator Greg Knapp’s Fisher-Price version of Sprint Right Option.
Sanchez is the only one on the bottom 10 with a serious future consideration as a starting quarterback. The next five-lowest includes Cutler, with his -35.0% DVOA under pressure. Cutler had the most pressures on our list with 141, and it doesn’t seem that with Mike Martz as his new offensive coordinator, that’s going to improve anytime soon.
*(Does not include sacks, "coverage scramble," or "hole opens up." Does include defensive pass interference and intentional grounding. Total plays adjusted for charter, stats per play not adjusted.)