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PFF Data Study: Examining a quarterback's effect on unblocked pass-rushers

Feb 7, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass under pressure from Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) during the fourth quarter in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

PFF has already established that quarterbacks are far more responsible for their pressure rates than previously thought, since quarterbacks who get rid of the ball quickly have an easier time avoiding the oncoming pass rush.

Sometimes, the QB finds himself under pressure not because of poor blocking from the offensive line or because he has held onto the ball for too long, but because an unblocked pass-rusher has burst through the protection. We want to further study this type of pressure in this piece.

As former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz noted below, sometimes the quarterback should be blamed for a sack, hit or hurry for not making a good protection call before the snap.

With this in mind, we want to see how unblocked pass-rushers tie to quarterbacks.

Since each pass-blocking and pass-rushing scheme is somewhat unique to each franchise, we built a model to predict whether there will be an unblocked pass-rusher on a given play using:

1. The number of pass-blockers
2. The number of pass-rushers
3. The down, distance and field position
4. The play type (play action, straight dropback, run-pass option, etc.)

After excluding all screen plays, we can calculate the number of unblocked pass-rushers over expected grouped by quarterbacks since 2014. The chart below shows the result, with the two quarterbacks from Super Bowl 55 highlighted.

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