Quick Reads
The best and worst players of the week according to Football Outsiders stats.

Week 13 Quick Reads

by Vincent Verhei

It got lost in all the crazy offensive numbers of 2018, but Dak Prescott set an NFL record in Dallas' 13-10 win over New Orleans on Thursday night. Playing behind a threadbare offensive line that was missing several projected starters from the preseason, Prescott was thrown to the turf seven times by the Saints' ferocious pass rush. Amidst all that abuse, though, he was able to throw 28 passes, completing 24 of them. That's a completion rate of 85.7 percent, and that's the highest ever for a player who was sacked seven times in a game.

In fact, the seven-sack completion percentage leaderboard is littered with players from this season. Derek Carr also makes the top 20 for his 16-of-22, 72.7-percent, seven-sack game on Thursday night against San Francisco in Week 9. Players from 2018 make up four of the top 60 games, and six of the top 100.

No matter how you want to define a "high-sack game," players this season are re-writing the record books for completing lots of passes while eating lots of turf:

On the surface, none of this should be surprising, because NFL quarterbacks are completing more passes than ever before. Basically, if you're not completing at least two-thirds of your passes this year, you're not a good quarterback. Going into Monday Night Football, 65.2 percent of all pass attempts have been completed this season. That would be a big jump for the all-time record, breaking the 63.0 percent mark set in 2013, but these numbers have been trending up fairly steadily ever since the 1930s.

What's new this year is the frequency of sacks. There have been 968 sacks this season, along with 13,334 pass attempts. That means quarterbacks have been sacked on 6.77 percent of all dropbacks, a step up from the 6.40 percent mark in 2017. In fact, that would be the highest rate since 2004. And that's very unusual, because as completion rates have gone up over time, sack rates have typically gone down. The following chart plots the average completion rates and sack rates for every season in the NFL since 1982, the first year that sacks became an official statistic. We've highlighted the marker for 2018, but we really didn't need to -- it's such an extreme outlier, it stands out on its own.

Here's another way to look at how strange this season has been: there are 13 quarterbacks this season who have completed at least 65 percent of their passes while being sacked on at least 6.7 percent of their dropbacks. Only 11 quarterbacks have done that over the course of a full season prior to 2018.

QBs with 65% Completion Rates and 6.7% Sack Rates
Name Year Team Cmp Att Cmp% Sacks Sack
Rate
Aaron Rodgers 2011 GB 343 502 68.3% 36 6.7%
Aaron Rodgers 2012 GB 371 552 67.2% 51 8.5%
Alex Smith 2014 KC 303 464 65.3% 45 8.8%
Alex Smith 2015 KC 307 470 65.3% 45 8.7%
Ben Roethlisberger 2009 PIT 337 506 66.6% 50 9.0%
Carson Wentz 2018 PHI 230 330 69.7% 29 8.1%
Dak Prescott 2018 DAL 243 364 66.8% 45 11.0%
Daunte Culpepper 2004 MIN 379 548 69.2% 46 7.7%
Derek Carr 2018 OAK 292 423 69.0% 38 8.2%
Deshaun Watson 2018 HOU 242 364 66.5% 41 10.1%
Eli Manning 2018 NYG 296 436 67.9% 41 8.6%
Jameis Winston 2018 TB 157 232 67.7% 18 7.2%
Marc Bulger 2004 STL 321 485 66.2% 41 7.8%
Marcus Mariota 2018 TEN 188 274 68.6% 38 12.2%
Matt Ryan 2018 ATL 326 460 70.9% 36 7.3%
Matthew Stafford 2015 DET 398 592 67.2% 44 6.9%
Matthew Stafford 2018 DET 292 439 66.5% 36 7.6%
Philip Rivers 2010 SD 357 541 66.0% 38 6.6%
Russell Wilson 2015 SEA 329 483 68.1% 45 8.5%
Russell Wilson 2018 SEA 217 326 66.6% 37 10.2%
Ryan Tannehill 2014 MIA 392 590 66.4% 46 7.2%
Ryan Tannehill 2018 MIA 118 178 66.3% 15 7.8%
Minimum 200 dropbacks

Why is this happening? That's a longer and more complicated question than we have time to answer here, but we do have a few theories:

  • While plays like run/pass options, bubble screens, and SHOVeLLs are boosting completion rates by making throws as easy as possible, the practice time devoted to those plays may be better spent on keeping quarterbacks upright in longer-yardage scenarios. It's also fair to ask whether defenses have caught up with RPOs after they played such a big role in Philadelphia's Super Bowl win last season. Mind you, we have no evidence this is happening -- it's a shot in the dark, a total guess -- but it might explain the pass protection issues a lot of teams seem to be having.
  • As rules about illegal contact and hits on receivers make it more difficult than ever to play pass coverage, defenses might be willing to leave more receivers open for an increased chance of putting the quarterback on the ground before he can even throw the ball in the first place.
  • As the value of each possession goes up, it's possible that quarterbacks are more willing to take sacks rather than risk a possible turnover on a pass under pressure. Better to eat the ball and try to convert a third-and-long than to put it in the air anywhere near a defender.
Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
1.
Patrick Mahomes KC
23/38
295
4
0
0
150
141
9
OAK
Mahomes loses 50 DYAR due to opponent adjustments, most of any quarterback this week, and still finishes on top of the pile. Throwing to his tight ends against Oakland, he went 15-of-19 for 207 yards and 10 first downs, including three touchdowns.
2.
Tom Brady NE
24/32
311
1
1
0
149
145
3
MIN
Brady was helped a lot by receivers making plays with the ball in their hands. On throws to receivers within 2 yards of the line of scrimmage, he went 12-of-15 for 162 yards and eight first downs.
3.
Philip Rivers LAC
26/36
299
2
0
2
143
143
0
PIT
The Chargers offense only had three drives in the second half: two touchdowns and a winning field goal. On those three drives, Rivers went 13-of-16 for 152 yards with 10 first downs, including a score.
4.
Derek Carr OAK
29/38
285
3
0
3
124
121
3
KC
The Chiefs took a 26-10 lead with 5:48 left in the third quarter. From that point to the end of the game, Carr went 13-of-18 for 156 yards with 10 first downs, including three touchdowns, with one DPI for 17 more yards and one sack.
5.
Carson Wentz PHI
27/39
306
2
1
0
99
99
0
WAS
6.
Jameis Winston TB
20/30
249
2
0
4
96
81
15
CAR
Winston had a good day on deep balls against Carolina, going 4-of-6 for 72 yards, plus DPIs of 12 and 52 yards on two other throws.
7.
Russell Wilson SEA
11/17
185
4
0
3
95
94
1
SF
Wilson only threw one pass to his right: a completion at the line of scrimmage to Chris Carson, who then gained 27 yards on first-and-20. In related news, Richard Sherman usually stays to that side of the field for San Francisco.
8.
Baker Mayfield CLE
29/41
397
1
3
0
89
89
0
HOU
Take away the second quarter and Mayfield was the best quarterback of the week, but in the second quarter, he was the worst quarterback of the week. In those fateful 15 minutes, he went 3-of-10 for 24 yards with just one first down; a 47-yard DPI; and three interceptions, including a pick-six.
9.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
29/45
281
2
1
1
83
83
0
LAC
Roethlisberger had a bad night throwing to his right: 5-of-9 for 32 yards with one first down and one interception.
10.
Deshaun Watson HOU
22/31
224
1
0
4
80
71
9
CLE
Throwing to his tight ends, Watson went 5-of-5 for 57 yards and four first downs, including a touchdown.
11.
Ryan Tannehill MIA
16/24
137
3
1
3
73
81
-7
BUF
In the red zone, Tannehill went 5-of-6 for 50 yards, with three touchdowns and another first down.
12.
Nick Mullens SF
30/46
414
2
1
3
58
64
-5
SEA
Conversely, Mullens went 5-of-9 for 40 yards with one touchdown, one other first down, one sack, and one pick-six in the red zone.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
13.
Aaron Rodgers GB
31/50
233
1
0
1
40
34
6
ARI
With 7 yards or less to go, Rodgers went 10-of-15 for 95 yards and 10 first downs, including a touchdown. But with 8 yards or more to go, he went 21-of-35 for only 138 yards, plus a 9-yard DPI, for six total first downs.
14.
Case Keenum DEN
12/21
151
1
0
2
16
10
5
CIN
Throws to receivers within 8 yards of the line of scrimmage: 6-of-12, 22 yards, one first down. Throws to receivers 9 or more yards downfield: 6-of-7, 129 yards, five first downs, including a touchdown. (He also had two passes where he was hit as he released that were listed with no receiver.)
15.
Josh Allen BUF
18/33
231
2
2
2
16
-37
53
MIA
League-wide this season, only 19 percent of all passes have qualified as deep balls (intended for receivers more than 15 yards downfield). Allen is an outlier -- 33 percent of his passes have been deep balls. And against Miami this week, his rate was right at 50 percent. He threw 17 deep balls against the Dolphins, going 5-of-16 for 116 yards, plus a 14-yard DPI, with one touchdown and two interceptions (including a Hail Mary at the end of the first half).
16.
Eli Manning NYG
19/35
170
1
1
3
12
12
0
CHI
Manning gains 69 DYAR due to opponent adjustments, most of any quarterback this week. His best results came on midrange throws to receivers 6 to 15 yards downfield: 10-of-13 for 124 yards, with all 10 completions going for first downs, with an 8-yard DPI and one interception.
17.
Dak Prescott DAL
24/28
248
1
0
7
6
-9
15
NO
Third downs: 6-of-6 for 60 yards and four conversions, but also four sacks and two fumbles.
18.
Matthew Stafford DET
20/33
245
1
1
4
5
10
-5
LAR
On first downs, Stafford went 9-of-13 for 176 yards with nine first downs, plus a 12-yard DPI, two sacks, and one fumble. He only had six first downs on 23 second- and third-down plays.
19.
Matt Ryan ATL
16/26
131
1
0
3
-18
-23
6
BAL
Midway through the fourth quarter, Ryan was sacked and fumbled, and the Ravens recovered the ball and returned it for a touchdown and a 26-10 lead. Up to that point, he had played a nightmare game, one of the worst of the week, going 12-of-21 for 94 yards with only two first downs and three sacks. At that point, with the game effectively over, he caught fire, going 4-of-5 for 37 yards with all four completions going for first downs (including his one touchdown), plus a 23-yard DPI.
20.
Marcus Mariota TEN
20/35
282
2
1
3
-18
-11
-7
NYJ
Mariota's last pass of the game was a game-winning touchdown to Corey Davis. That was his only third-down conversion of the game. Up to that point, he had gone 2-of-9 for 3 yards (not a typo) with a sack and a pick-six.
21.
Josh Rosen ARI
11/26
149
0
0
2
-30
-27
-3
GB
Inside the Green Bay 40, Rosen went 0-for-4 with a sack. No, really.
22.
Jeff Driskel CIN
26/38
236
1
1
4
-38
-27
-12
DEN
Driskel was very good throwing up the middle: 9-of-13, 150 yards, seven first downs, one touchdown. But he was very bad throwing to his left: 7-of-11 for only 26 yards with one first down and one interception.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
23.
Andrew Luck IND
33/52
248
0
1
3
-42
-48
6
JAX
Inside the Jacksonville 40, Luck went 9-of-17 for just 46 yards and two first downs with a sack. Remember, Indianapolis lost this game 6-0.
24.
Jared Goff LAR
17/33
207
1
1
2
-49
-49
0
DET
Deep balls: 2-of-9 for 45 yards with one interception.
25.
Cody Kessler JAX
18/24
150
0
0
3
-55
-49
-6
IND
Kessler's best and worst plays came on third downs. He completed 6-of-7 passes for 73 yards and four first downs, and also had a 15-yard DPI for another first down. But he was also sacked three times, fumbling once.
26.
Lamar Jackson BAL
12/21
125
0
0
2
-69
-29
-40
ATL
Jackson is now up to 76 non-kneeldown carries this season, just three behind Cam Newton for the most among quarterbacks. The results, however, have been bad -- he's worst among quarterbacks with -62 rushing DYAR. He ran for five first downs against Atlanta, with four gains of 10 yards or more, but also fumbled twice and had a zero-yard gain on third-and-3.
27.
Josh McCown NYJ
17/30
128
0
1
2
-70
-69
-1
TEN
McCown had nine plays at the Tennessee 28-yard line or deeper. One went forwards: a 2-yard gain on first-and-10 from the 18. Five, all incomplete, went nowhere. Three -- a completion for a 4-yard loss on first-and-20 and a pair of sacks -- went backwards.
28.
Kirk Cousins MIN
32/44
201
1
2
2
-82
-82
0
NE
Cousins loses more than 60 DYAR for his last three passes, including two interceptions. It's not like he was lighting the world on fire up to that point though -- only two of his completions gained more than 10 yards, and they both came in the second quarter. In the second half, he went 17-of-25 for 92 yards with four first downs, two interceptions, and a sack. He finished with 16 failed completions, five more than any other quarterback this week.
29.
Mark Sanchez WAS
13/21
100
0
1
2
-104
-107
3
PHI
30.
Drew Brees NO
18/28
127
1
1
2
-105
-109
4
DAL
If Brees didn't get the job done on first down, he usually didn't get it done on second or third down either: 12-of-18 for 78 yards with only three conversions (including a 30-yard touchdown), one sack-fumble, and one interception.
31.
Cam Newton CAR
28/41
300
2
4
4
-147
-154
7
TB
The Buccaneers defense only had three interceptions in their first 11 games. Newton threw four interceptions in one stretch of about 47 minutes on Sunday. Two of them came with the Panthers down seven in the fourth quarter -- one on first-and-10, one on second-and-5.
32.
Chase Daniel CHI
26/39
285
1
2
5
-179
-179
0
NYG
Daniels had four fumbles against the Giants, three of them on aborted snaps, and three on Chicago's one drive in overtime. In the red zone, he went 3-of-8 for 7 yards with one touchdown, plus a DPI for 8 yards. With more than 10 yards to go for a first down, he went 4-of-9 for 11 yards with no conversions, two sacks, and one pick-six.
Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Ezekiel Elliott DAL
23
76
0
6/6
60
1
49
20
29
NO
Five first downs on the ground, the longest a 21-yarder, while getting stuffed four times. Three of his six catches gained 10 yards or more, with two first downs.
2.
Chase Edmonds ARI
5
53
2
2/2
13
0
48
39
9
GB
A fourth-round rookie out of Fordham, Edmonds had five carries against Green Bay, and four gained at least 6 yards and a first down, with two touchdowns and a 29-yard gain. His two catches also both went for first downs.
3.
Justin Jackson LAC
8
63
1
1/1
19
0
47
37
10
PIT
A seventh-round rookie out of Northwestern, Jackson ran for four first downs against Pittsburgh, with four gains of 9 yards or more. His one catch was a 19-yard gain on first-and-10.
4.
Tarik Cohen CHI
8
30
0
12/14
156
0
45
-8
52
NYG
Cohen only ran for one first down against the Giants, and was stuffed twice. But his catches produced four first downs, including gains of 14, 23, 32, and 46 yards.
5.
Nick Chubb CLE
9
31
1
3/3
41
0
42
23
19
HOU
Thirteen of Chubb's DYAR come from opponent adjustments. He ran for three first downs against Houston, with a long gain of 11 yards, while getting stuffed three times. His best catch was a 24-yard gain on first-and-13.
Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Phillip Lindsay DEN
19
157
2
1/1
2
0
38
43
-5
CIN
Lindsay ran for seven first downs against Cincinnati, with five runs of 10 yards or more, including a 65-yarder.
2.
Chase Edmonds ARI
5
53
2
2/2
13
0
48
39
9
GB
3.
Justin Jackson LAC
8
63
1
1/1
19
0
47
37
10
PIT
4.
Rashaad Penny SEA
7
65
1
0/0
0
0
37
37
0
SF
Penny was stuffed once, but each of his other carries gained at least 3 yards. His three first downs came on runs of 15, 19, and 20 yards.
5.
Todd Gurley LAR
23
132
2
3/5
33
0
41
33
8
DET
Gurley ran for eight downs against Detroit, with four runs of 10 yards or more, the longest a 36-yarder. He was stuffed four times.
Worst Running Back by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Chris Thompson WAS
3
3
0
4/6
18
0
-47
-27
-19
PHI
Thompson's three runs: 7-yard gain on second-and-22; no gain on first-and-10; 4-yard loss and a fumble on first-and-10. His receiving highlights included a 9-yard gain on third-and-15, an 8-yard gain on third-and-14, and a 2-yard gain on second-and-15.
Worst Running Back by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Chris Ivory BUF
6
4
0
0/0
0
0
-35
-35
0
MIA
None of Ivory's runs gained more than 4 yards, none resulted in a first down, none counted as a successful play. Three were stuffed, including a 4-yard loss and a fumble on second-and-13.
Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Antonio Brown PIT
10
13
154
15.4
1
61
LAC
Eight of Brown's catches went for first downs, including a 28-yard touchdown and a gain of 46.
2.
Tyler Lockett SEA
1
2
52
52.0
1
54
SF
Lockett's totals include 44 DYAR receiving, 10 DYAR rushing for his one carry for 10 yards. They also gives him credit for a third target that is not listed here: a 43-yard DPI. This is offense only, though, not special teams, so it does not include his 84-yard kickoff return to open the second half.
3.
Keenan Allen LAC
14
19
148
10.6
1
54
PIT
Ten of Allen's receptions produced first downs, including three third-down conversions.
4.
Jaron Brown SEA
3
3
67
22.3
2
53
SF
Brown's three targets against San Francisco: 45-yard gain on second-and-6; 4-yard touchdown on third-and-goal; 18-yard touchdown on second-and-17. As pointed out by Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, Brown now has 11 catches this season, and five have resulted in touchdowns -- that's more touchdowns than players such as Julio Jones, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Amari Cooper, or Brandin Cooks have this season.
5.
Chris Godwin TB
5
6
101
20.2
1
47
CAR
Four of Godwin's catches resulted in first downs, including a 48-yard gain and three third-down conversions. The other was a 12-yard gain on second-and-17.
Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Taylor Gabriel CHI
3
7
17
5.7
0
-51
NYG
Gabriel's three catches: 6-yard gain on first-and-10; 7 yards and a lost fumble on first-and-10 from the Bears' 2-yard line; 4-yard gain on second-and-5.

Comments

69 comments, Last at 07 Dec 2018, 12:31pm

1 Re: Week 13 Quick Reads

Do the Broncos have both 2018 Rookies of the Year in Philip Lindsay and Bradley Chubb?

It's a really strong rookie class this year though, with at least a dozen guys around the league who could really claim they deserve it.

28 Re: Week 13 Quick Reads

I think Leyton Vander Esh is probably the front runner for DROY. I personally am a fan of Darius Leonard. Were he surrounded by more talent, he'd look even better.

As for offense, Lindsay has a case, but so does Calvin Ridley. Poor Mike McGlinchey deserves some love but likely won't get any. Nelson has been damn good too.

48 Re: Week 13 Quick Reads

Yep, all those guys are deserving. I was unaware of the Colts LB though; if offensive linemen were actually eligible for these awards they would also have a chance of pulling a Saints this year!

I think Chubb, who is 4.5 sacks away from Jevon Kearse's rookie sack record (14.5), should be the frontrunner. Not that I would complain (much) if James wins, but I think Chubb is having a better season however you measure it.

For OROY, Lindsay has been the better runner than Saquon (identical traditional stats, but on 50 fewer carries), but Barkley's been a much better receiver than Lindsay, by 500 yards and 3 TDs. That's pretty close, if you ask me.

51 Re: Week 13 Quick Reads

If he can sustain his current pace and end with ~500 DYAR and positive DVOA, I'd give it to Baker Mayfield without much thought. That's miles more valuable than any running back. And this year's other rookie QBs illustrate just how difficult life can be for young QBs thrown onto bad teams.

59 Re: Week 13 Quick Reads

I've been seriously impressed with Baker. He's inherited the worst situation and hasbeen by far the best rookie.

This totally changes the outlook for the Browns. And yet, the Browns aura of suckitude gives me heavy pause before making any such proclamations.

61 Re: Week 13 Quick Reads

I don't know about the worst situation - the Bills and Jets offenses are almost totally devoid of talent around their rookie QBs. Let's just say none of them are good situations, but Mayfield has produced by far the best performance.

When you factor in the narrative that he has breathed life into a previously woebegone franchise, he's a pretty obvious selection for OROTY IMO.

3 Re: Week 13 Quick Reads

So, he's not a running back so he doesn't qualify for the list, but the best rushing DYAR for the week was actually... Josh Allen?

22 Re: Week 13 Quick Reads

And the worst was a QB, Lamar Jackson. Although he may be getting graded harshly since his runs are more similar to a RB's (harder to attack the LOS) than a typical QB (easier to scramble for more yards). He has is averaging about 5 yards per run which is bad for a QB but OK for a RB

4 Re: Week 13 Quick Reads

There ought to be a United Nations investigation, in regard to the war crimes being visited on Chase Daniel! 60-plus pass attempts, not in the span of 8 years, BUT IN THE SPAN OF 8 DAYS!!!!!

OH, THE HUMANITY!!!!!

5 Re: Week 13 Quick Reads

I am legit stunned Rodgers came out positive for Sunday. And between his long scramble and converting the 3rd and 23 Rosen made the big plays that GB was lacking

8 So...

You're telling me that Mark Sanchez is still in the NFL? And not only that but he started a game? The same Mark Sanchez who played for the Jets? San-Chize Mark Sanchez? Butt Fumble Sanchez? Rex tattoo Sanchez? Get outta here.

9 Re: So...

In reply to by RobotBoy

It's a shame that there are no unemployed quarterbacks out there who could give you a better chance. A guy with real talent who almost won a superbowl. A guy who...oh, forget it.

39 Re: So...

Yeah, but the guy you're thinking of hasn't thrown a pass in the NFL since 2016. Clearly Sanchez is a better option at this point, since he [checks notes]...hadn't thrown a pass in the NFL since 2016 before last night.

55 Re: So...

In all fairness, Sanchez has been able to really polish his clipboard handling experience since 2016.

60 Re: So...

Coach Gruden seems to feel the same way: https://www.sbnation.com/2018/12/4/18126109/colin-kaepernick-washington-jay-gruden-mark-sanchez

11 Re: So...

In reply to by RobotBoy

He didn't start. Colt McCoy broke his leg.

Redskins now have had two QBs break legs in one season. Rough go for a team that was in first place, what? Last week?

20 Re: So...

In reply to by RobotBoy

If that's your reaction, then you'll probably be interested to know that, in a sign that his appearance last night was divinely ordained, Sanchez fumbled on MNF but recovered the ball by pinning it against his butt.

10 Re: Week 13 Quick Reads

How much DYAR was Brady's final completion of the first half worth? The dump off with almost no time remaining that netted 42 yards but never had a prayer of scoring or setting up a field goal? Is that a failed completion? Is it treated the same as a hail mary?

12 Re: Week 13 Quick Reads

The sacks-completions-interceptions trend is interesting: good work picking it out. I'm not quite swayed by any of the hypotheses presented though. In fact, the sack rate has climbed a little over the last decade, and it now looks as though 2016 (the lowest sack rate ever) is the outlier. The lowest sack rate over a three-year period is 2007-09. The likely explanation for why the sack numbers are ticking back up is the emergence of the Rushing Quarterback who extends plays for as long as possible, as exemplified by Robert Griffin, who ranked fifth in completion percentage in 2012 but got sacked a ton. Griffin's yards per completion were also well above average, which is another aspect of this pass-wacky season: not only are QBs completing many more passes, but each completion is gaining as many or more yards than has been the case for most of this century.

The Rushing QB hypothesis is boosted by the fact that yards per sack seem to have declined this year, and that QB fumbles don't appear to be increasing at the same rate as QB sacks.

Another (probably related) trend to note is the huge leap in rushing yards per carry this season (and first downs gained on the ground). Are defenses blitzing more, and getting killed by RPOs? How much of the difference is down to QB runs? What proportion of the extra yards are coming in the 'open field', and why aren't nickel and dime defenses doing better at preventing these longer runs?

This all intrigues me greatly, as you can probably tell!

14 Re: Week 13 Quick Reads

I was wondering if the new rules about what can be done to a QB during a sack (no body weight and such) is effecting this by allowing more quarter back to take more sacks without getting knocked out of the game. How many guys in the past would have gotten sacked 7 times but got knocked out of the game on sack 3 or 4.

46 Re: Week 13 Quick Reads

Interesting. At first I was nodding along, that QBs might let themselves be sacked more. But your last sentence made me stop, because it would imply the sack rate would stay the same, you'd just see fewer backup quarterbacks playing.

34 Re: Week 13 Quick Reads

I suppose it does, but ultimately the Dallas offense is still not very good - 24th in both offensive DVOA and total scoring, 16th in points per drive. Maybe those numbers look better since the beginning of the season, but if I were putting together a defense I wouldn't worry too much about teams like Dallas in the big picture.

49 Re: Week 13 Quick Reads

For sure. Actually, the team that I think is exploiting this better than anyone this year is the Rams. While still being as pass-oriented as anyone (especially considering how frequently they've been playing with the lead), in a league that has gone shotgun-crazy, they stand out by running so many plays from under center. Along with the fact that a huge proportion of their passing game is play-action (which is probably the foundation of the entire thing), they've created just a hyper efficient running game. Gurley and the OL are great, but they mostly aren't running over people - they're running past them and into huge amounts of space.

18 Re: Week 13 Quick Reads

Part of it may be that this is reflecting a somewhat different regime and that it is being masked by looking at too long of a historical period. The problem with this is that if it is a new regime it is difficult to be certain with so few data points. Perhaps a small part of is that the sacks are coming on plays that are likely to have lower completion percentages. Now many QB's are substituting a sack for a long incompletion. This is even harder to determine since I don't know if the information on play calls is available.