Stat Analysis
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2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

by Scott Kacsmar

Arguably, the worst play a quarterback can make is throwing an interception. However, there are high amounts of luck and randomness involved with the rate at which interceptions occur. Sometimes the pass was tipped by the intended receiver. Sometimes the quarterback gets hit as he's throwing. Then you have the dozens of awful passes each season that should have been intercepted, but were dropped by defenders (reminding us why they play defense).

There's another type of play with negative consequences that is a much better predictor of future quarterback performance. The sack is a more common event that carries far less variation than the myriad of possibilities that come after a pass leaves the quarterback's hand. On these plays, the whole problem is the ball never did come out, and if it did, then we're looking at a fumble too.

Yet in all my years of following the NFL, it always seems like the sacks and fumbles are ignored in favor of the interception when it comes to analysis of a quarterback's mistakes. The sack is almost like a litmus test for where a fan is in their understanding of the game. Usually you start out thinking it's all about the offensive line and protection, but the sack is actually very dependent on the quarterback.

Peyton Manning led all quarterbacks in sack rate (2.66 percent) in 2013. Since entering the league in 1998, Manning has seven of the top 18 seasons in sack rate in that time. You can look at any other quarterback stat and Manning did not finish as high that frequently as he has with sack rate. Last year lowered his career rate to 3.10 percent, putting him above Dan Marino (3.13 percent) for the NFL record. As we looked at last year, Marino's quick release led to the greatest individual dominance of a stat in NFL history. He led the league in sack rate in seven consecutive seasons (1983-89) and 10 times overall.

Terrelle Pryor was just traded from Oakland to Seattle. Last season, he had a league-worst 10.23 percent sack rate. The Raiders were a mess at offensive line, but rookie Matt McGloin still managed a 2.77 percent sack rate (Manning territory) when he played. It's not like the Raiders magically blocked that much better for McGloin.

Since 2004, a quarterback has thrown at least 200 passes in back-to-back seasons 219 times. Here are the year-to-year correlation coefficients for six rate statistics in the passing game:

Year-to-year correlation (2004-13)
Statistic Year-to-year correlation
Completion percentage 0.54
Sack rate 0.52
Yards per attempt 0.47
Passer rating 0.42
Touchdown percentage 0.35
Interception percentage 0.05

See how untrustworthy interceptions can be? While a (usually young) player can certainly improve on limiting turnovers, it's the traits like accuracy and getting rid of the ball that are really more in his control.

To put it another way, sack avoidance is a great quarterback skill and most of the sacks that are taken are due to a failure in protection. But when the stat is presented for a quarterback's sack rate, it's an injustice to simply calculate sacks divided by the sum of passes and sacks. We looked at True Sack Rate last year and now return with the 2013 data that aims to quantify the rate at which quarterbacks are sacked.

2013's True Sack Rate

At its core, a sack is simply a pass play where the quarterback failed to get rid of the ball and gain positive yardage. A proper rate stat would include all of those plays, but the generic sack rate ignores scrambles on passes. From game charting, we add those scrambles along with counting intentional grounding penalties as sacks. After all, it's a quarterback under pressure, taking a loss of yardage. Those are even deadlier than the average sack due to the yardage involved. In January's wild AFC Wild Card game, the Chiefs' game-winning drive attempt was thwarted in large part to a 10-yard intentional grounding penalty charged to Alex Smith after pressure from Cory Redding. That set up a third-and-17 and knocked the Chiefs out of field-goal range. Smith actually would have saved at least three yards by taking the sack.

The following table sorts the leaders in True Sack Rate for all 37 qualified (minimum 224 pass attempts) passers in the 2013 regular season. General sack rate (Sack%) is also included with its ranking order. The number of accepted intentional grounding (IG) penalties is followed by the pass plays on which the quarterback scrambled (SCRAM). We also included just how many times the quarterback was under pressure (PRES) on those scrambles to differentiate from coverage scrambles or when a hole opened up. Stats are not adjusted for opponent.

Rk Quarterback Passes Sacks Sack% Rk IG SCRAM PRES Pct. TOT Passes True Sack Rate
1 Peyton Manning 659 18 2.66% 1 1 0 0 - 677 2.81%
2 Matthew Stafford 634 23 3.50% 2 3 11 6 54.5% 668 3.89%
3 Josh McCown 224 11 4.68% 3 0 8 7 87.5% 243 4.53%
4 Andy Dalton 586 29 4.72% 4 1 25 11 44.0% 640 4.69%
5 Jason Campbell 317 16 4.80% 5 1 12 7 58.3% 345 4.93%
6 Andrew Luck 570 32 5.32% 8 0 43 27 62.8% 645 4.96%
7 Philip Rivers 544 30 5.23% 7 0 15 7 46.7% 589 5.09%
8 Jay Cutler 355 19 5.08% 6 1 13 10 76.9% 387 5.17%
9 Ryan Fitzpatrick 350 21 5.66% 12 0 29 18 62.1% 400 5.25%
10 Sam Bradford 262 15 5.42% 10 0 7 4 57.1% 284 5.28%
11 Drew Brees 650 37 5.39% 9 1 12 7 58.3% 699 5.44%
12 Matt Cassel 254 16 5.93% 13 0 11 10 90.9% 281 5.69%
13 Matt Schaub 358 21 5.54% 11 1 4 1 25.0% 383 5.74%
14 Tom Brady 628 40 5.99% 14 1 3 1 33.3% 671 6.11%
15 Tony Romo 535 35 6.14% 15 1 8 3 37.5% 578 6.23%
16 Aaron Rodgers 290 21 6.75% 20 0 18 12 66.7% 329 6.38%
17 Matt Ryan 651 44 6.33% 16 2 8 6 75.0% 703 6.54%
18 Ben Roethlisberger 584 42 6.71% 19 0 14 8 57.1% 640 6.56%
19 Alex Smith 508 39 7.13% 23 1 46 23 50.0% 593 6.75%
Rk Quarterback Passes Sacks Sack% Rk IG SCRAM PRES Pct. TOT Passes True Sack Rate
20 Carson Palmer 572 41 6.69% 18 2 5 4 80.0% 618 6.96%
21 Joe Flacco 614 48 7.25% 24 0 15 9 60.0% 677 7.09%
22 Case Keenum 253 19 6.99% 21 1 5 3 60.0% 277 7.22%
23 Chad Henne 503 38 7.02% 22 2 11 7 63.6% 552 7.25%
24 Eli Manning 551 39 6.61% 17 5 6 5 83.3% 596 7.38%
25 Robert Griffin 456 38 7.69% 25 2 37 27 73.0% 531 7.53%
26 Kellen Clemens 242 21 7.98% 26 0 9 8 88.9% 272 7.72%
27 Cam Newton 473 43 8.33% 28 0 38 26 68.4% 554 7.76%
28 Colin Kaepernick 416 39 8.57% 30 0 47 27 57.4% 502 7.77%
29 EJ Manuel 306 28 8.38% 29 1 26 14 53.8% 360 8.06%
30 Nick Foles 317 28 8.12% 27 2 18 6 33.3% 363 8.26%
31 Geno Smith 443 43 8.85% 32 0 31 17 54.8% 517 8.32%
32 Ryan Tannehill 588 58 8.98% 33 0 14 10 71.4% 660 8.79%
33 Mike Glennon 416 40 8.77% 31 2 12 7 58.3% 468 8.97%
34 Russell Wilson 407 44 9.76% 35 2 51 33 64.7% 502 9.16%
35 Christian Ponder 239 27 10.15% 36 0 25 10 40.0% 291 9.28%
36 Brandon Weeden 267 27 9.18% 34 1 7 2 28.6% 301 9.30%
37 Terrelle Pryor 272 31 10.23% 37 2 34 17 50.0% 337 9.79%
AVERAGES 440.4 31.4 6.65% - 1.0 18.3 10.8 59.0% 490.1 6.60%

Rankings for the two sack rates barely change with the cumulative averages being 0.05 percentage points apart. That's to be expected given no quarterback can make his living off more than a couple of scrambles per game. What matters are the improved rates. Christian Ponder (+0.87%) had the biggest improvement. He was one of the more willing scramblers.

Eli Manning had the most negative change, dropping seven spots (-0.77%) in True Sack Rate thanks in part to his league-leading five intentional grounding penalties. He even had three in one game (Week 5 vs. Eagles). No quarterback since 2001 had more than two intentional grounding penalties in the same game. The average season only has about 35 grounding penalties, so they are not common at all. Eli's been charged with 11 since 2011 -- five more than runner-up Tom Brady. Eli's brother Peyton has eight intentional grounding penalties in his 240-game career.

Peyton Manning was also the only quarterback included here not to scramble once on 677 plays. For the second year in a row, Russell Wilson led all quarterbacks in scrambles to earn his "second coming of Fran Tarkenton" reputation. He had 50 as a rookie and 51 in 2013. He did face an above-average amount of pressure on the scrambles, but the highest rate belongs to Matt Cassel, who scrambled 11 times with 10 pressures. Nick Foles was one of the more notable names to have a low pressure rate, scrambling 18 times with six pressures (33.3 percent). He definitely showed more mobility in Chip Kelly's offense than expected and does not like to force passes.

2013 Sack Breakdown

Quarterbacks do react differently to pressure and some handle it better than others on a consistent basis. Now that we have a better sack rate, we can still break down the sacks even further through game charting to get a sense of the quarterback's sack avoidance skill.

Here's a brief guide to the sack categories in our charting:

  • Blown Block (BLOWN): Clear physical breakdown in protection that leads to the sack.
  • Coverage Sack (COV): A quarterback held the ball too long on a sack with sufficient protection.
  • Rusher Untouched (RUT): Often a blown assignment, these are the ugly plays where a rusher has a free run at the quarterback.
  • Other Pressure (OPRES): I lumped together plays that were charted as "Overall Pressure" (could mean multiple rushers) or "Blown Block/Rusher Untouched" (both could happen on same play).
  • QB Fault (QBF): Any time a quarterback "sacks himself" by tripping on his own feet, his lineman's feet, or just dropping the ball without being hit.
  • Failed Scramble (FS): On a pass play, the quarterback tried to scramble -- more because he saw room in front of him, as opposed to scrambling due to heavy pressure -- but the hole closed before he reached the line of scrimmage.

The following table shows how the 1,295 sacks in the 2013 regular season were marked in charting:

FO Charting Breakdown: 2013 Sacks
Sack Type Total Pct.
Total Sacks 1295 -
Blown Block 743 57.37%
Coverage Sack 264 20.39%
Rusher Untouched 174 13.44%
Other Pressure 75 5.79%
QB Fault 13 1.00%
Failed Scramble 26 2.01%

If we conclude that the coverage sacks and failed runs are mostly on the quarterback, then 76.6 percent of the sacks in 2013 were mostly due to protection failures. However, we know it's never as simple as the math suggests. Some quarterbacks do a much better job of helping the protection by getting rid of the ball quickly. An offense's usage of play-action and more deep routes will have a direct impact on the time the quarterback has to hold the ball, which will skew the sack numbers a bit.

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Still, we know some quarterbacks are taking bad sacks that would have been avoided by a different player. Case Keenum lost 23 yards on one sack in the fourth quarter against Arizona last year. Good luck getting Tom Brady down for that type of loss. He'd never retreat that far back.

Mobility is actually one of the most overrated attributes for a quarterback when it comes to avoiding sacks. The signal callers with excellent footwork in the pocket, capable of quickly identifying a target and releasing are the best at avoiding sacks. It doesn't matter that they couldn't break five seconds in a 40-yard dash. History has shown most of the highly sacked quarterbacks were mobile guys unwilling to give up on the play.

With that in mind, we'll conclude with a look at the 2013 breakdown by sack type for all 42 quarterbacks with at least 10 sacks taken.

Quarterback BLOWN Pct. COV Pct. RUT Pct. OPRES Pct. QBF Pct. FS Pct. Total
Peyton Manning 17 94.4% (1) 0 0.0% (42) 0 0.0% (39) 0 0.0% (31) 1 5.6% (3) 0 0.0% (15) 18
Carson Palmer 33 80.5% (2) 2 4.9% (38) 2 4.9% (36) 3 7.3% (14) 1 2.4% (9) 0 0.0% (15) 41
Sam Bradford 12 80.0% (3) 1 6.7% (37) 1 6.7% (33) 0 0.0% (31) 0 0.0% (13) 1 6.7% (7) 15
Matt Schaub 16 76.2% (4) 1 4.8% (39) 1 4.8% (37) 3 14.3% (4) 0 0.0% (13) 0 0.0% (15) 21
Matt Ryan 33 75.0% (5) 5 11.4% (30) 4 9.1% (29) 1 2.3% (29) 1 2.3% (10) 0 0.0% (15) 44
Jake Locker 12 75.0% (5) 3 18.8% (26) 1 6.3% (35) 0 0.0% (31) 0 0.0% (13) 0 0.0% (15) 16
Ryan Tannehill 43 74.1% (7) 6 10.3% (32) 6 10.3% (25) 2 3.4% (24) 0 0.0% (13) 1 1.7% (14) 58
Drew Brees 27 73.0% (8) 1 2.7% (41) 4 10.8% (24) 5 13.5% (5) 0 0.0% (13) 0 0.0% (15) 37
Andrew Luck 23 71.9% (9) 3 9.4% (35) 4 12.5% (21) 2 6.3% (16) 0 0.0% (13) 0 0.0% (15) 32
Christian Ponder 19 70.4% (10) 7 25.9% (16) 1 3.7% (38) 0 0.0% (31) 0 0.0% (13) 0 0.0% (15) 27
Eli Manning 27 69.2% (11) 4 10.3% (33) 4 10.3% (26) 4 10.3% (9) 0 0.0% (13) 0 0.0% (15) 39
Tom Brady 27 67.5% (12) 6 15.0% (29) 5 12.5% (21) 2 5.0% (20) 0 0.0% (13) 0 0.0% (15) 40
Philip Rivers 20 66.7% (14) 8 26.7% (14) 0 0.0% (39) 1 3.3% (25) 0 0.0% (13) 1 3.3% (11) 30
Ben Roethlisberger 28 66.7% (13) 9 21.4% (21) 3 7.1% (31) 2 4.8% (21) 0 0.0% (13) 0 0.0% (15) 42
Chad Henne 25 65.8% (15) 3 7.9% (36) 7 18.4% (13) 2 5.3% (17) 1 2.6% (7) 0 0.0% (15) 38
Ryan Fitzpatrick 13 61.9% (16) 1 4.8% (39) 0 0.0% (39) 2 9.5% (11) 1 4.8% (4) 4 19.0% (1) 21
Alex Smith 24 61.5% (17) 9 23.1% (19) 4 10.3% (26) 2 5.1% (19) 0 0.0% (13) 0 0.0% (15) 39
Tony Romo 21 60.0% (18) 7 20.0% (24) 6 17.1% (17) 1 2.9% (26) 0 0.0% (13) 0 0.0% (15) 35
Jay Cutler 11 57.9% (19) 2 10.5% (31) 5 26.3% (3) 1 5.3% (18) 0 0.0% (13) 0 0.0% (15) 19
Kellen Clemens 12 57.1% (20) 2 9.5% (34) 7 33.3% (2) 0 0.0% (31) 0 0.0% (13) 0 0.0% (15) 21
Jason Campbell 9 56.3% (21) 5 31.3% (7) 2 12.5% (21) 0 0.0% (31) 0 0.0% (13) 0 0.0% (15) 16
Quarterback BLOWN Pct. COV Pct. RUT Pct. OPRES Pct. QBF Pct. FS Pct. Total
Andy Dalton 16 55.2% (22) 5 17.2% (27) 5 17.2% (16) 3 10.3% (8) 0 0.0% (13) 0 0.0% (15) 29
Aaron Rodgers 11 52.4% (23) 6 28.6% (11) 2 9.5% (28) 0 0.0% (31) 0 0.0% (13) 2 9.5% (5) 21
Joe Flacco 25 52.1% (24) 11 22.9% (20) 9 18.8% (11) 2 4.2% (22) 1 2.1% (12) 0 0.0% (15) 48
Brandon Weeden 14 51.9% (25) 8 29.6% (9) 2 7.4% (30) 2 7.4% (13) 0 0.0% (13) 1 3.7% (9) 27
Cam Newton 22 51.2% (26) 15 34.9% (3) 3 7.0% (32) 3 7.0% (15) 0 0.0% (13) 0 0.0% (15) 43
Colin Kaepernick 19 48.7% (27) 11 28.2% (12) 5 12.8% (20) 1 2.6% (28) 0 0.0% (13) 3 7.7% (6) 39
Matthew Stafford 11 47.8% (28) 6 26.1% (15) 5 21.7% (8) 0 0.0% (31) 1 4.3% (5) 0 0.0% (15) 23
Michael Vick 7 46.7% (29) 3 20.0% (24) 1 6.7% (33) 3 20.0% (3) 1 6.7% (2) 0 0.0% (15) 15
Matt Flynn 11 45.8% (30) 5 20.8% (23) 5 20.8% (10) 3 12.5% (6) 0 0.0% (13) 0 0.0% (15) 24
Josh McCown 5 45.5% (31) 3 27.3% (13) 0 0.0% (39) 0 0.0% (31) 1 9.1% (1) 2 18.2% (2) 11
Russell Wilson 20 45.5% (31) 14 31.8% (6) 8 18.2% (14) 1 2.3% (29) 1 2.3% (10) 0 0.0% (15) 44
Nick Foles 12 42.9% (33) 10 35.7% (2) 4 14.3% (19) 1 3.6% (23) 0 0.0% (13) 1 3.6% (10) 28
Robert Griffin 16 42.1% (34) 11 28.9% (10) 9 23.7% (5) 1 2.6% (27) 0 0.0% (13) 1 2.6% (12) 38
Mike Glennon 16 40.0% (35) 13 32.5% (5) 7 17.5% (15) 3 7.5% (12) 1 2.5% (8) 0 0.0% (15) 40
EJ Manuel 11 39.3% (36) 11 39.3% (1) 6 21.4% (9) 0 0.0% (31) 0 0.0% (13) 0 0.0% (15) 28
Thad Lewis 7 38.9% (37) 6 33.3% (4) 4 22.2% (7) 0 0.0% (31) 0 0.0% (13) 1 5.6% (8) 18
Case Keenum 7 36.8% (38) 4 21.1% (22) 8 42.1% (1) 0 0.0% (31) 0 0.0% (13) 0 0.0% (15) 19
Geno Smith 15 34.9% (39) 10 23.3% (18) 8 18.6% (12) 9 20.9% (2) 0 0.0% (13) 1 2.3% (13) 43
Blaine Gabbert 4 33.3% (40) 2 16.7% (28) 2 16.7% (18) 4 33.3% (1) 0 0.0% (13) 0 0.0% (15) 12
Terrelle Pryor 9 29.0% (41) 8 25.8% (17) 7 22.6% (6) 3 9.7% (10) 1 3.2% (6) 3 9.7% (4) 31
Matt Cassel 3 18.8% (42) 5 31.3% (7) 4 25.0% (4) 2 12.5% (6) 0 0.0% (13) 2 12.5% (3) 16

All but one of the 18 sacks taken by Peyton Manning were blown blocks. That's the highest rate in the league and he's the only quarterback here to not take a coverage sack. Many of the quarterbacks with a low rate of blown block sacks and high rate of coverage sacks are inexperienced (Terrelle Pryor, EJ Manuel, Mike Glennon and Thad Lewis) or just not very good (Cassel).

Cam Newton led the league with 15 coverage sacks. If he was waiting for guys like Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell to get open, then that might be a problem in 2014 with Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant currently leading the receiving corps.

Joe Flacco and Robert Griffin III had the most sacks with a rusher untouched (nine), but Keenum had the highest rate of his sacks happening that way. Houston signed Ryan Fitzpatrick this offseason, but he led the league with four failed scrambles resulting in sacks.

Yeah, the Texans could use a quarterback, but if the history of sack rates is any indication, Johnny Manziel's maverick style may keep him in David Carr territory (read: the bottom) on any future list of True Sack Rates.

Comments

74 comments, Last at 29 Apr 2014, 9:28pm

1 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

"Case Keenum lost 23 yards on one sack in the fourth quarter against Arizona last year."

That was the longest sack of the 2013 season. Keenum also had the second-longest sack, a 19-yard loss against Jacksonville in Week 12. There were 14 sacks that lost 15 yards or more last year, and Keenum had four of them. Keep in mind he only played eight games.

4 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

I'm sure Trestman deserves credit, but from our AGL study, the continuity for Chicago's OL was absurd in 2013. They almost had all 5 guys play every snap and keep in mind 4 of those guys were new starters in Chicago. So it was a whole different scheme and basically a whole different OL for Cutler to work with. Not just different, but superior as well.

6 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

The pass protection improvement thing is real, but hard to quantify. FO has the Bears as top 5 at adjsuted sack rate (still weird to accept that as a Bears fan). But PFF has them at 28th at Pass Blocking Eficiency. All I know is that now the OL is competent, to say the least.

I know Cutler bugs you, since he keeps showing up on your Clutch list. As a Bears fan he bugs me as well. A, life of the fan of a high variance QB.

14 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

I don't think you can overestimate the value of going from a terrible o-line to a competent one. My hunch is that the line the Bears had in 2012 was so bad that any QB would have gotten killed behind it. I'm not sure how much credit for a low sack rate should go to Cutler/McCown/Trestman and how much belongs to the greatly improved 2013 o-line, but I'd blame 99% of the problems from 2012 on Webb, Carimi, and company.

39 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

The improved sack rate is all Trestman.

Cutler had the 5th highest pressure rate (76%) in the league (Josh M. was 6th) - see top chart. Cutler also had the 3rd highest untouched rusher rate (23%). Both of these stats lay the blame on the O-line which would explain PFFs 28th ranked pass efficiency.

5 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

Not bad, Scott. You still miss on interpreting the final table, but not as badly as some would.

You imply that Denver's line had the highest rate of "Blown Blocking Sacks" in the league. Of course, that's completely wrong. They only had 17 such sacks on a total of 677 plays. That's about the 5th best rate in the league. You get a point for not actually saying explicitly that the line was bad. Because being fifth best is actually really, really good.

30 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

If that was what he was trying to do, he picked a weak and convoluted stat for the purpose.

The whole concept is that "blown block sacks" have little to do with QB skill and a lot to do with line play. So comparing coverage sacks to blown block sacks (that's what Scott is doing in effect) clouds the QB skill picture rather than making it clearer.

Remember: a bad QB can play behind a bad line. His "BLOWN Pct." number would be average, just like a good QB behind a good line.

31 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

Every single QB save one with an unforced sack rate (defined as the percentage of coverage sacks, failed scrambles, intentional groundings and QB fault sacks out of total pass attempts) of higher than 1.7% has a blown block rate of lower than 57%, and every single QB save two with an unforced sack rate of lower than 1.7% has a blown block rate of higher than 57%, and the correlation coefficient is -0.757, which seems pretty strong to me.

32 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

No nat, you're just badly misinterpreting the statistic as somehow about the offensive line, when it's entirely about the QB. The best QB in the world would have 100% blown blocks. ALL of his sacks would be the O-line's fault, even if it's a very good line that only does it 17 times a season. But with the perfect QB no sacks would be coverage sacks where he held the ball too long. None would be untouched rushers where he failed to make his hot read, and none would be failed scrambles where he misjudged his chances of getting away. The only way a defender gets to the best QB is by beating a blocker.

56 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

The article defines "Blown Block Sack" as Clear physical breakdown in protection that leads to the sack.

That has nothing to do with the quarterback. It's a stat about the OL. That's its purpose.

While it is true that the "best QB in the world" would have a high ratio of blown block sacks to other sacks, it is equally true that he would have a high ratio of left guard's Body Mass Index to other sacks, number of teammates with names containing three vowels to other sacks, team's field goals made to other sacks... none of which are good stats to judge a QB's ability to avoid sacks.

However, when you compare to the league averages (always a good FO technique) you would see that Denver's OL prevented more blown block sacks than any team but one (and fifth best in rate), and the combined efforts of Manning, the OL, and the receivers prevented more coverage sacks than any other team. The difference between those two numbers is not very remarkable: just 1.7 sacks over the course of the season.

Even if you give Peyton ALL the credit for avoiding coverage sacks, which would be silly since it's a stat about receivers having time to get open as much as about QBs throwing the ball away to avoid sacks, you would still have to conclude that he and his line pretty much split the credit for the team's low sack rate.

Overall, the Blown Block Sack percentage fails to measure the rate at which block block sacks happen, and fails to measure the relative contributions to pass protection of the line and QB. It's a useless stat and bad analysis in an otherwise fine article.

58 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

Purpose was never about the OL, hence OL is not in the title of the article. You're making the last table into something more than it is. It's not like all blown blocks or all untouched rushers are included to derive rates from. It's simply a breakdown of the sacks taken last season. Ideally, you'd want a QB who only gets sacked when his OL sucks (Blown Blocks) and not a QB who takes a lot of unnecessary sacks because he can't/won't get rid of the ball, isn't a wise scrambler or is a bumbling, stumbling fool. If most of your sacks are from blown blocks, then that means the QB won't have a lot of the sacks that are more about his mistakes. Simple as that.

62 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

Ideally, you'd want a QB (and receivers and line) that has a lower rate of coverage sacks per dropback. That's what helps you win games, not a ratio to an unrelated number.

Ideally, you'd want a line (and a little bit of QB) that has a lower rate of giving up blown block sacks per dropback. That's what helps you win games, not a ratio to an unrelated number.

The ratio to each other or to total sacks tells you very little about either. You can have a lower coverage sack % (using your ratio to total sacks) by avoiding coverage sacks, or by having a bad line. You can have a higher blown block % by having a bad line or by avoiding other kinds of sacks.

Since the percentages you use are mostly useless to judge either the line or the QB, we might suppose that you intended them to judge the relative value of each. Sadly, the stat fails at that, too. Being good at avoiding coverage sacks saved the Broncos about 9 sacks last year. Being good at avoiding blown blocks saved about 8 sacks last year. The two phases of sack-avoidance contributed about the same amount to the Bronco's success at pass protection. The 94.4 percentage you focus on at the end of the article is completely misleading as a comparison tool, and hopeless as a tool for ranking QBs.

The rest of the article was fine.

It would be refreshing if you just admitted your mistake in using that bad stat to rank QBs in a way that just doesn't work. Instead of touting Denver as having the "highest rate in the league" of blown block sacks, you could truthfully say that they have the fifth lowest rate in the league, and had a line and QB that - by these stats - contributed nearly equally to their success in pass protection.

Or are you going to insist that the Broncos OL "sucks"?

63 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

I'm not going through this again with you. There's value to breaking down stats like completions and sacks. Not everything has to be about the overall rate every single time.

As for Denver specifically, I see no reason to give the OL much credit for the sack numbers when the QB is such an outlier in that department. Marino was the same way in his era. No matter how many different OL combinations you put in front of these guys, they are the hardest to sack. Given Ryan Clady (the best they have) missed practically all of the season, they were down to their third center, their RT was demoted at season's end and they let Beadles walk in free agency, I'm not inclined to call this an elite unit.

When Denver failed in 2013, the OL was a weakness. It was always a quick edge pressure too: the safety in Indy and then three plays (all in crucial spots) where Manning was hit as he threw and the ball was easily intercepted (IND, SD, SEA). None of those were bigger than in the Super Bowl for the pick-six. Maybe another QB eats the ball there and punts, keeping the game at 15-0 and perhaps competitive for the final 33 minutes. Maybe that's a flaw in Manning's game where he is too determined to not take sacks. If you want to say that shined through on the Tracy Porter play or the pick in OT against Baltimore, I won't disagree. But we're still taking about a QB skill and not his OL.

Now I don't think the Denver OL was bad, but any other QB in the league would not have replicated the sack numbers Manning had behind them.

67 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

As for Denver specifically, I see no reason to give the OL much credit for the sack numbers when the QB is such an outlier in that department.

Wow. Just wow. The unprofessional fanboy-level bias rears its ugly head. Wow.

I gave you credit for making an honest analysis mistake. It's now obvious that you were dishonestly trying to warp the data to fit your personal narrative. And if you can't warp the data or get caught doing it, you just claim special dispensation to ignore the data you don't like entirely. Why? Because Peyton must get all the credit. Because 0 coverage sacks is so godlike, that it has to mean the OL gets not credit for their excellent work. Because OMG PEYTON!

Manning may have had zero coverage sacks, but there are a fourteen QBs with three or fewer, and sixteen guys with coverage sack rates of under 1%. Zero percent, as good as it is, isn't some godlike outlier stat that justifies treating Denver as some unique special case.

Your own data shows that the Denver OL was very, very good at avoiding sacks that would have been their fault. Not just the low "blown block" number, but the "rusher untouched" and "other pressure" zeroes, too. So you focus on a bogus ratio stat, and when called on it, you just make stuff up, pushing every bad thing onto the OL, and deflecting any credit they should get to the QB.

Jeez. What a hack.

69 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

Honestly, perfundle said it best, you only have a problem with this if you missed the the context of this article. Since it is very clearly a ranking of quarterbacks based on the type of sacks they take,theres no pt to turn those stats as an indictment against the o line and call the whole thing misleading. But thats how hes chosen to interpret it. If anything, this feels agenda driven on nats part since hes focused solely on Denver being misleading rather than o lines in general

26 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

The ranking is a comparison. That's what a ranking is.

Edit: I'm also pretty sure your conclusion is not supported by the data because it's probably well within the margin of error. However, when the data is presented as it is in this article it is not apparently that the differences are small and margin of error would account for it.

7 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

With the exception of Glennon, those rookies with the low blown blocks and high coverage sacks were also low in untouched rushers.

Any ideas about what that means? Are we seeing more protection, so fewer receivers? Less blitzing and more coverage from the D? Rookies just holding the ball longer? I think we have numbers to test all of those hypotheses.

16 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

One thing that should be noted is that not all sacks are created equal. Keenum's 23-yard sack helped Houston have the worst average sack distance, at 8.8 yards. Carolina was also very bad, at 7.8 yards, and this even extended to the Pro Bowl when Newton got sacked 4 times for 36 yards. Meanwhile, San Francisco and Seattle only had 5.9 yards and 6.2 yards, respectively, because Kaepernick and Wilson often scrambled forward to prevent the sack from hurting so much; Wilson got sacked 3 times for 0 yards against the Saints in the playoffs, for example.

18 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

I'm not the biggest Wilson fan( I strangely find him currently overrated but expect him to be really good in the future), but I think hes the best decision scrambler in the league, as evidenced by the stat of sack yards lost. He really does do a good job of knowing when to all out scramble and take off, scramble and then pass long, or scramble and throw away.

21 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

Personally I haven't seen him rated that highly. Most likely to get more Super Bowls, yes, but that's more a function of his supporting cast. And playing in the NFC West is certainly not helping him pad stats in any way.

But the 14 coverage sacks is pretty sobering, although I figured as much. I'd be really interested to see the air yards per pass attempt broken down by seconds held on to the ball, though. Do the long passes Wilson makes after scrambling for 5 seconds make up for all those coverage sacks?

34 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

I have the same impression regarding Wilson being he best decision scrambler. On a related note, I think data including positive yards ran or thrown on scramble plays should also factored in, especially for scrambling QBs like Wilson, Roethlisberger and Rodgers. If positive offensive plays (especially significant ones, e.g, ten or more yards, let's say) occur a high percentage during scrambles, while negative plays (e.g., turnovers, sacks, particularly for big yards) make a far lower percentage, then I think that would give you a more accurate picture of the value of scrambling and mobility.

(By the way, was the stat for yards lost on a sack listed above, or did you get that from somewhere else?)

36 Re: 2013 Quarterbacks: True Sack Rate

But suppose the choice was scrambling or taking a sack or even having to throw the ball away immediately? It seems like in every game there's a pass rusher that come shooting up toward that he has to evade (scramble), and if he doesn't he'd get crushed. That's just based on memory, so I don't know how reliable that is.