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Ranking the best 2021 NFL starting quarterbacks by accuracy at different target depths

East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws the ball as New York Jets defensive end Ronald Blair (54) pursues during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Rankings season is in full swing at PFF, and analysts are working around the clock to bring you lists on every measurable statistic that we track. From position ranks to power rankings, you can find it all at PFF.

Last week, we ranked the top quarterbacks in deep passing situations using a multitude of metrics, including accuracy percentage and accuracy-plus percentage. Now, we'll zero in on that statistic as we examine how NFL quarterbacks performed in 2021 from three different target depths: short (1-9 yards), intermediate (10-19 yards) and deep (20-plus yards).

Short Passes (1-9 yards; min. 72 attempts)

Accuracy %

1. TUA TAGOVAILOA, MIAMI DOLPHINS | Accuracy Percentage: 71.3%

On short passes, the Alabama product went 129-for-169 for 1,025 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. His 78.0 short passing grade ranked eighth of the 37 quarterbacks who attempted at least 72 short passes in 2021.

2. RYAN TANNEHILL, TENNESSEE TITANS | Accuracy Percentage: 71.0%

The Titans' starting signal-caller completed 193 of his 231 short attempts. Through the 2021 regular season, he passed for 1,658 yards and 13 touchdowns en route to a league-leading 88.0 short passing grade.

3. JOE BURROW, CINCINNATI BENGALS | Accuracy Percentage: 69.3%

On his way to an AFC championship victory, Burrow completed 186 of his 240 short pass attempts in 2021 for 1,858 yards and 12 touchdowns.

4. JUSTIN HERBERT, LOS ANGELES CHARGERS | Accuracy Percentage: 68.4%

Herbert recorded the most short pass attempts (315) of any quarterback on the list. That resulted in 240 completions for 2,131 yards and 16 touchdowns. He was one of only six quarterbacks who recorded zero turnover-worthy plays on short pass attempts.

5. TOM BRADY, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS | Accuracy Percentage: 67.7%

The “G.O.A.T.” was a touchdown machine in the short game — the Bucs’ quarterback recorded 24 short passing touchdowns, the most of any quarterback last season at that depth.

Accuracy-Plus %

1. KIRK COUSINS, MINNESOTA VIKINGS | Accuracy-Plus Percentage: 20.8%

The Vikings’ quarterback completed 166 of his 218 short passing attempts for 1,292 yards, 11 touchdowns and a 101.3 passer rating.

2. JIMMY GAROPPOLO, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS | Accuracy-Plus Percentage: 20.5%

Jimmy G completed 76.4% of his 199 attempts for 1,424 yards, six touchdowns and just two interceptions. His average of 7.2 yards per short passing attempt tied for third among the 37 eligible quarterbacks.

3. JARED GOFF, DETROIT LIONS | Accuracy-Plus Percentage: 20.2%

The former Rams quarterback threw just one interception on short attempts. That was his only turnover-worthy play, which contributed to a lowly turnover-worthy play rate of 0.4% — the best non-zero mark. Goff went 183-for-233 for 1,487 yards and six touchdowns on such throws.

4. TOM BRADY, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS | Accuracy-Plus Percentage: 19.6%

The vet beat other quarterbacks in most metrics by a country mile. His 86.0 short passing grade ranked second, and he went 222-of-279 for 1,857 yards and a top-rated 121.6 passer rating at that depth in 2021.

5. RYAN TANNEHILL, TENNESSEE TITANS | Accuracy-Plus Percentage: 19.3%

Also appearing in the accuracy percentage short-range category in second place, Tannehill tied for third in yards per attempt (7.2) on short throws. He also recorded an 83.5% completion rate, which was the best of the 37 quarterbacks with at least 72 short passing attempts.


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