Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

12 Dec 2008

Hits and Hurries 2008

Here's some of the early data on quarterback hits and hurries.

The quarterback hits, of course, come from the official play-by-play. Official scorers are doing a better job of marking hits this year compared to last year, but there still are some very strange totals for certain teams because of scorers who seem to miss a lot of knockdowns. We've added a lot of hits to the official PBP thanks to the charting project, but that doesn't fully solve the problem. I'm sorry, but there's no way that last week's Pittsburgh-Dallas game had eight sacks but only one other play where a defender knocked the quarterback to the ground. And last week, the Bucs sacked Jeff Garcia five times but didn't knock him to the ground on any other play? Message to official scorer in Charlotte: I have my doubts.

Here are the top players in stadium-adjusted QB hits, including plays canceled by penalty but not sacks. Actual hits in parentheses.

Aaron Kampman, GB: 14.7 (16)
Mario Williams, HOU: 14.3 (14)
Jared Allen, MIN: 14.0 (13)
Shaun Rogers, CLE: 13.9 (13)
Kyle Vanden Bosch, TEN: 11.9 (13)
DeMarcus Ware, DAL: 11.8 (12)
Ray Edwards, MIN: 11.4 (11)
Darnell Dockett, ARI: 11.3 (14)
Justin Smith, SF: 10.3 (9)
Gaines Adams, TB: 10.1 (12)

As you might expect from the guy who leads the league in sacks, Joey Porter leads all non-linemen in hurries with 7.1 (6).

Flip it around, and here are the quarterbacks with the most hits. Again, sacks not included. Check out the big gap between the top two and everyone else.

Kurt Warner, ARI: 65.2 (65)
David Garrard, JAC: 61.2 (67)
Matt Cassel, NE: 42.4 (42)
Jeff Garcia, TB: 41.1 (41)
Jason Campbell, WAS: 36.5 (39)
Drew Brees, NO: 36.5 (37)
Tony Romo, DAL: 34.8 (34)
Peyton Manning, IND: 33.2 (33)
Derek Anderson, CLE: 30.2 (28)
Donovan McNabb, PHI: 30.1 (27)

That may be the first time and last time Peyton Manning ever appears on a list of most knocked down quarterbacks. If you compare the numbers for Warner to those for Dockett, you'll notice that the weirdness with the Arizona scorer is entirely home cooking for the Cardinals defense -- 32 hits marked in six home games and only 13 hits marked in seven road games.

Let's move on to quarterback hurries. These come from the game charting project, and data is currently complete through Week 11. I don't have time yet to go through and figure out adjustments based on charter tendencies, but missing games shouldn't affect much -- we have at least 8.5 charted games (out of 10 possible) for every team. I stuck an asterisk next to the one player here with more than one half uncharted.

Dwight Freeney, IND: 16.5
John Abraham, ATL: 15
Jared Allen, MIN: 15
Charles Grant, NO: 15
Julius Peppers, CAR: 15
James Harrison, PIT: 14
Calvin Pace, ARI: 14*
Trent Cole, PHI: 12
Mathias Kiwanuka, NYG: 12
DeMarcus Ware, DAL: 11.5

Baltimore has the most hurries (73), followed by Minnesota (66) and Philadelphia (60). The team at the bottom is, of course, Kansas City (22), but you might be surprised to see Miami 30th (33).

Here are your leaders among quarterbacks.

J.T. O'Sullivan, SF: 63
Aaron Rodgers, GB: 59
Drew Brees, NO: 54
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT: 54
David Garrard, JAC: 52*
Donovan McNabb, PHI: 50
Peyton Manning, IND: 49
Matt Ryan, ATL: 47
Derek Anderson, CLE: 45
Kurt Warner, ARI: 45*

The least-hurried quarterback among regular starters is Jake Delhomme, marked with only 23 hurries with no missing halves through Week 11.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 12 Dec 2008

18 comments, Last at 15 Dec 2008, 4:28pm by Wanker79


by MJK :: Fri, 12/12/2008 - 5:41pm

Interesting that Cassel features prominently on the hits list, but not the hurries list. I suppose that's because if he is being "hurried" he just runs with the ball for 0 +/- 2 yards?

by Cosmos (not verified) :: Fri, 12/12/2008 - 5:56pm

Actually DeMarcus Ware should be listed a a "non-lineman" because he is a linebacker in which case he is ahead of Joey Porter. Just saying...

by Fan in Exile :: Fri, 12/12/2008 - 7:16pm

Where does Cutler rank on the list of hurries? I've been really impressed with the way the line has been going. I really didn't see it working out this well at the beginning of the season.

by Theo :: Fri, 12/12/2008 - 7:23pm

After having an extraordinary good beer... I'm glad with the data. Thank you.
The fine thing would be if you could offer a conclusion to all this.
-Joe got hurried a lot but got the ball around.
-Mike got a perfect line, yet threw too many INTs.
-Sam got hurried and threw INTS.
-Will threw picks because he didn't have protection.

by tuluse :: Sat, 12/13/2008 - 1:54pm

That's what the Prospectus is for ;)

by Bobman :: Fri, 12/12/2008 - 7:47pm

P Manning: hit lots, hurried lots, sacked rarely and not too many picks as well. Plus no running game. What's the negative value of all the sacks (and resultant fumbles) the other guys take?

You think the MVP voters give a shit?

Neither do I.

I have to retract some bile here: Brees is on both lists as well and has only 16 INTs and 11 sacks (Manning is at 12 and 12). Did not check fumbles. Clearly he's doing something right as well.

by D :: Fri, 12/12/2008 - 8:15pm

Aaron, any chance you can give us the QB numbers per dropback/pass attempt.

by alwe (not verified) :: Fri, 12/12/2008 - 11:48pm

Dont forget brees plays in a much pass-happier offense.
he has nearly 100 more passing attempts than manning, which means opposing defenses have a lot more opportunities to harass him.

by Bobman :: Sat, 12/13/2008 - 12:51am

Yes, I realize that, but not sure how to translate it. So Manning probably has a higher hit and hurry percentage, but Brees has had more actual punishment. You can bet your last cent that the Pro Bowl and MVP voters don't look too closely at TD rates, sack rates, INT rates, etc. They look at gross numbers if both guys played roughly the same number of games. DVOA measures value per play, but that's still a pretty revolutionary concept, at least among the general populace.

Somebody with 22 TDs in 10 games will always lose out to somebody with 30 TDs in 16 games. Part of it is the missing six games were pretty damn important, no question. But I bet a lot of it is that 30 looks so much better than 22, even though the TD rate is lower. 2.2 per game vs 1.875. (that's TDs/Game. Same holds for TDs/Att, and the inverse for sacks/Att and INT/Att) Some guy with 20 TDs in a run-heavy system (say, Eli Manning) will not get the same praise as a guy with 30 in a system that is all pass (say, Warner). In some ways he shouldn't because the run game takes some pressure off him. But in other ways, that 20 TDs might represent a very high percentage and show he is more valuable on a per play basis.

Come to think of it, P Manning has been throwing it a LOT more than I am happy with--they were better when balanced, say 46% run 54% pass and I suspect he's a bit higher than that. Warner and Brees are both considerably higher, I am guessing.

by Bobman :: Sat, 12/13/2008 - 1:10am

Okay, this is getting off-topic on hits, but I just looked as a followup. Brees has 546 Atts, Warner 505, P Manning 477.

TD Rates: Brees 5.1, Warner 5.0, Manning 4.6
INT Rates: Brees 2.9, Warner 2.4, Manning 2.5

Sack Rate: B 2.0 W 4.0 M 2.5
Hit Rate: B 6.8 W 12.9 M 6.9
Hurry Rate: B 9.9 W 8.9 M 10.3

On a per attempt basis, Brees has the most TDs and most INTs, fewest sacks, fewest hits, and middle in hurries. The bad luck of having a tough division, he won't get enough MVP votes.

Per attempt, Warner has middle TDs, fewest INTs, most sacks, most hits, fewest hurries.

Per attempt, Manning has fewest TDs (so it's not ALL his more balanced attack), middle INTs, middle sacks and hits, most hurries.

This data certainly gives me a richer picture of their seasons, but still not sure what to make of it. But it is a good eway to avoid working on a Friday night.

by Jimmy :: Sat, 12/13/2008 - 1:09am

It should come as no suprise to anyone that saw Mr Sullivan play for the Niners this year that he leads the league in QB hurries. If you are still holding onto the ball five or six seconds after you started to drop back things arelikely to get hurried, fast.

by Bobman :: Sat, 12/13/2008 - 1:12am

So you are saying he has really slow receivers, no? Or every pass play they call is a 90-yard pattern? It's gotta be one or the other, right?

by BucNasty :: Sat, 12/13/2008 - 9:24am

I'm not surprised to see Gaines Adams on the hits list. He's pretty good at punishing QB's even when he can't bring them down. I think he single-handedly taught Tyler Thigpen a lesson about holding onto the ball that will stick with him for the rest of his career. Given some of the questionable roughing calls we've seen this year, I keep waiting for them to flag him but in never happens.

by Travis :: Sat, 12/13/2008 - 2:19pm

Calvin Pace is on the Jets in 2008, not the Cardinals. Does this mean he still has more than a half uncharted?

by Felton (not verified) :: Sun, 12/14/2008 - 11:22am

Charles Grant? Really? The full version of this at season's end will be interesting, especially the revised judgements of value. Is 15 hurries and 3 sacks a talent issue or a luck issue?

by Raiderjoe :: Sun, 12/14/2008 - 12:16pm


sWhy would it mean Pace has half uncharetd. ? Woudl one half relally make differnnce?

re: Felton (not verfied)
Is luck issue sometimes and talent thing other times. Like if d end is gettitng to Qb and hurries him will make guy throw ball earlier which could lead to intecerptions or badly inc passes. But if guy hurries Qb it could also lead to sack if the layer gets to the Qb before ball thrown,.
Both of those examples would be good play by the defensive player.
Would be not as good if player hurries Qb but then falls down or tries to saxck Qb by misses or Qb breaks tackle and moves in pocket and completes pass. Let's ssee so key is to hurry Qb and force bad throw or get sack. If not forcing bad throw or sacking then the defensive playeer made mistka eand probbaly sign that guy has lack of talent overall or maybe just lakc of talent on that play

by The Powers That Be :: Mon, 12/15/2008 - 4:13pm

So DeMarcus Ware is the only player on all three lists (these two plus sacks), and of course leads the league in sacks. And is an every-down LB who plays great against the run and in coverage. DPOY, anyone?

by Wanker79 :: Mon, 12/15/2008 - 4:28pm

What is the logic behind excluding sacks from the hits totals? I would think that the two events would be considered identical for the purposes of this analysis.