Which QB's Are Holding the Ball For Too Long?

Our friend J.J. Cooper at Fanhouse has some interesting data from his project analyzing how long quarterbacks have before they get sacked.

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32 comments, Last at 15 Nov 2010, 10:51am

1 Re: Which QB's Are Holding the Ball For Too Long?

By looking at the relatively large differences between mean and median, and n-values all over the place, it really looks like this guy is just trying to interpret noise in the data. I doubt any meaningful statistical analysis would find evidence to reject a null hypothesis in this dataset. Combine that with the inherent bias in the measure (some he admitted and some he didn't), this seems pretty meaningless.

2 Re: Which QB's Are Holding the Ball For Too Long?

Add in small sample size for each QB.

Then again, I look at David Carr at 1.5 sec and think, I came into this ready to heap scorn and abuse on him for holding on too long, but now... well how the hell does a defender get in and how can you not avoid him for more than in 1.5 seconds? Say a complete OL failure and the guy is through in 1.0 secs... that means Carr couldn't roll/run/stiff arm or do something for more than a half second? Even dropping back a couple yards should buy that time. Sheesh! Okay, maybe it was an obvious "I'm dead" play and he made the smart move by going fetal and protecting the ball. I don't know. But still....

Oh, and TB actually has TWO QBs named Josh? That's just... not what I expected.

9 Re: Which QB's Are Holding the Ball For Too Long?

That link sorta contradicts you. It says "It is no longer considered necessary or even correct to create the plural of years or decades or abbreviations with an apostrophe." The "or even correct" seems like hedging the bets. The heavy implication of "it is no longer considered necessary" is that it's fine either way. The second half of that bit means now that the rules are becoming lax, people are beginning to consider using an apostrophe in that context incorrect. Like almost all difficult grammar, it's not an open and shut case.

And, as any half-decent English teacher will tell you, the point (of grammar rules) is to make communication clear - hence that link talking about how you should use an apostrophe with an abbreviation that ends in "S" like "SOS's." Because "SOSs" is confusing and that's what you are trying to eliminate. Being nitpicky about something clear that communicated the proper information is actually against the spirit of grammar.

17 Re: Which QB's Are Holding the Ball For Too Long?

Bob the Angry Flower agrees with Dr. Grammar Forever


Personally, I think people use way too many apostrophes, especially when simply forming plurals. An apostrophe has two functions: to indicate possession or as a substitute for missing letter.

The problem with tolerating "QB's" is that then you have people using "'s" in "Mormon's" to mean "Mormons" (I saw this on a different web site today!)

To borrow from Bob:


See also


The consensus opinion appears to be (from this site and other grammar sites) that it's reasonable to use 's for a plural in some specialized cases (letters, numbers, and acronyms that end in "S" like SOS) but that in general it is preferable to not do so.

One QB, two QBs.

Why not "QB's"? Because introducing an unnecessary apostrophe can confuse the reader a lot of the time. This is especially problematic with the large number of words that can serve both as nouns and verbs. A bad apostrophe will make a verb look like a noun (e.g., "the QB's plan"), causing confusion that interrupts the flow of reading.

18 Re: Which QB's Are Holding the Ball For Too Long?

No, it is not! Apostrophes are NEVER used to create plurals. When I was in graduate school and teaching in a college writing program, the comic linked below was posted everywhere. The rule is very simple.


What's funny is that the original article got it right, and FO altered the title to make it grammatically incorrect.

20 Re: Which QB's Are Holding the Ball For Too Long?

This all started change at some point, but is far from settled:

"The traditional style of pluralizing single letters with the addition of ’s (for example, B’s come after A’s) was extended to some of the earliest initialisms, which tended to be written with periods to indicate the omission of letters; some writers still pluralize initialisms in this way. SOME STYLE GUIDES CONTINUE TO REQUIRE SUCH APOSTROPHES—perhaps partly to make it clear that the lower case s is only for pluralization and would not appear in the singular form of the word, for some acronyms and abbreviations do include lowercase letters."

Sorry, grammar police, but as with all obscure grammer, the issue is cloudy and the most important issue is still clarity. But I guess every grammar rule begins with a "dammit, we want this to be a rule and are going to insist, insist, insist it is until people obey!"

21 Re: Which QB's Are Holding the Ball For Too Long?

In that same article, here's my favorite esoteric bit that turned up:

"A particularly rich source of options arises when the plural of an initialism would normally be indicated in a word other than the final word if spelled out in full. A classic example is Member of Parliament, which in plural is Members of Parliament. It is possible then to abbreviate this as M’s P"

I reminds me of the onion article about William Kristol going into Burger King and ordering two "Whoppers Junior." In short, this is all the sort of convoluted English up with which we should not put.

23 Re: Which QB's Are Holding the Ball For Too Long?

The point is that the use of an apostrophe to make something plural can cause confusion. Since grammar is about clarity AND consistency, the apostrophe is only appropriate when it is possible that someone could consider the lowercase "s" to be part of the abbreviation. In other words, there are times that this rule can be broken in the interest of clarity. This is not one of those times.

I understand that you think we are being pedantic, but your defense of the apostrophe in "QB's" is equally pedantic (but not very well thought out). Kind of ironic, huh?

26 Re: Which QB's Are Holding the Ball For Too Long?

No, it is not like the Oxford Comma (BTW, I'm a big supporter of using the Oxford Comma).

There really is a universal rule for correct usage in this case. It's just that there might be rare circumstances in which that rule should be broken for the sake of clarity. For example: "dot my i's and cross my t's" (in this case the necessity of using the lowercase "i" demands using something to distinguish "i's" from "is")

All rules of grammar may be broken for the sake of clarity, but that doesn't mean that there aren't rules for standard usage.

27 Re: Which QB's Are Holding the Ball For Too Long?

I consider this very much like the Oxford Comma, because as even a quick internet search (which isn't what I'm relying on) will turn up there are opposing schools of thought. (And yes, I'm also a staunch proponent of the Oxford Comma.) I was always taught - directly from English grammar books, no less - to use an apostrophe when making the plural form of an abbreviation, acronym, or initialism. I no longer do, because I prefer the alternative practice (though it's also admittedly influenced by the feeling that apostrophes are grossly overused).

Maybe those grammar texts are limited to this side of the Pond. Maybe they're simply outdated. Whichever is correct, I'd say it really isn't established enough either way to be worth calling somebody out on. Now if he'd typed "quarterback's" then yes, I'd be signing up for a torch and pitchfork!

Interesting discussion though, at least to me. Others, probably not so much.

29 Re: Which QB's Are Holding the Ball For Too Long?

There is a school of thought in grammar - call it the 'hipster' grammarian school - that claims that languages are in flux, we shouldn't be fussy, etc. Reminds me of the white boomer music critics who claim they love hip-hop because they don't want to fall into the 'these damn kids and their noise' hole. In this case, to demand simple rules be followed in considered uncool.

The English language is such a mess, that when there are general rules, we can only benefit from following them. And this rule is a very simple one - plurals do not take apostrophes. This is no different from the Nimrods who spell the posessive 'its' with an apostrophe. It's not a variant spelling - it's a sign that you're not familiar with the written language.

5 Re: Which QB's Are Holding the Ball For Too Long?

Too small a sample size. I'd want to analyze every pass play, the type of pass play, initial reads, the defense (which counts for a ton when considering a small sample size), etc.

NFL teams evaluate every game film to account for all factors and you can not get an accurate gauge JUST analyzing sack plays. Then when you start throwing generalities on top of small sample sizes, what you are doing is really forming your own conclusions.

Pretty much a useless article in my eyes. I would however love to see a pure one-QB analysis on Brady. Did the Moss/Brady combo have more time on a per play basis than the after Moss left. And how do those first four games compare to last year?

7 Re: Which QB's Are Holding the Ball For Too Long?

"Pretty much a useless article in my eyes."


When does the "stopwatch" stop? I have seen several times when Ben R. has had a LB crawling up his back within 2 seconds of the snap, but he takes a second or two to actually bring down (or on many occasions he gets away). Does that counts as a 2 second sack or a 3-4 second sack? I would like to see an analysis of how long, on average, it takes until "first contact" regardless of whether a sack was the end result.

I would also think that differing offensive philosophies having an impact. The short passing game/west coast offense style of offense has plays that develop quickly allowing a QB to get rid of the ball quickly. In Pittsburgh, it seems that Arians doesnt have a pass play in his book that takes less than 5 seconds to develop.

10 Re: Which QB's Are Holding the Ball For Too Long?

Agreed that some clarification on the methods are needed... but compiling this info is the first step towards doing something useful with. I'm happy someone is getting it together (although, the "stop-watch" issues and tiny margins of time being discussed do make it somewhat less exciting than it could be.)

12 Re: Which QB's Are Holding the Ball For Too Long?

Well, there's a chance they thought about it, but just didn't make it clear in this short article.

To me, what's striking is that regardless of anything else, the difference between holding onto the ball and getting it out quickly is really a matter of a second and a half. I know I shouldn't be surprised, but that seems like such an inhumanly small amount of time that I can't imagine that "holding onto the ball" can even be the source of whatever problems people want to ascribe to it...

15 Re: Which QB's Are Holding the Ball For Too Long?

Yeah, but I think this is an instance (and keep in mind, the variance there isn't 2 seconds except at the very fluky poles - it's all basically in a range between 2.35 seconds and 3.5 seconds, most of the difference is contain within a single second!) where the percentage difference is relevant - the real time issue is what is so striking (there are fractions of time contained within a single second that could represent a 50-100% difference.) I'm not saying it is meaningless, but I think that it says interesting things about decision-making - that is, these numbers highlight just how intuitive the process has to be. It's something that is ascribed qualities like "decision-making ability" and "football intelligence" but in a second, you're not making more informed intelligent decisions, but relying on intuition. And you can see that in QB's like Favre who are constantly making amazing decisions and throws, but just as frequently making stupid ones. It's not like he goes from brilliant to stupid and back at random in a game.

Also: look at that list: there's almost no relationship between sack time and QB ability. Granted, there's a lot of incoherency from their muddy methods, but the smallness of the time difference really does put some holes in conventional wisdom about "holding onto the ball too long."

16 Re: Which QB's Are Holding the Ball For Too Long?

small sample size but I think it supports what I've seen this year that Favre is holding onto the ball too long. Combine that with tons of ints and he is having a truly terrible year.