Top 10 NFL quarterbacks by time to throw in 2023

2T49805 Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) gestures as he celebrates running for a first down during an NFL football game between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Doug Murray)

• Tua Tagovailoa was the king of quick passes in 2023: Miami's fast-paced offense showcased the quarterback's ability to hit fast timing routes, and he led the league in PFF passing grade on throws in 2.5 seconds or less as a result.

• Lamar Jackson paced the league in passes with time to throw: His 91.2 PFF passing grade when having 2.5 seconds or more to pass was the lone elite mark in the NFL.

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A big factor in a quarterback’s success is how much time they have to throw. Being able to diagnose defenses and go through one’s reads allows a quarterback to maximize their options when throwing downfield.

Some quarterbacks prefer to get the ball out quicker to provide more opportunities for receivers to produce with the ball in their hands or scheme against a top-tier pass rush.

We’re looking at the 10 best quarterbacks in PFF passing grade when throwing in less than and more than 2.5 seconds from 2023 minimum of 100 dropbacks of each).

Under 2.5 seconds

Tua Tagovailoa led just about every conceivable category when it came to getting rid of the football in under 2.5 seconds. He paced the NFL in passing grade, touchdowns (22), passing yards (3,264, over 700 more than second place), big-time throws (19) and average depth of target (6.8).

However, Tagovailoa also led the league in interceptions on such throws (eight) while finishing second in turnover-worthy plays (13). That stems from his significant volume of quick passes, as Tagovailoa’s 422 such dropbacks led the league. Trevor Lawrence was the only other quarterback with at least 400 dropbacks, and third place Derek Carr was well behind them at 368.

It’s no secret that Bryce Young struggled mightily in his rookie season after being made the first-overall pick by the Panthers last season. Pressure got to him very quickly, as he was sacked a whopping 14 times in less than 2.5 seconds. On the contrary, Jordan Love made massive strides in his first year as a starter, and his protection was a big reason why, as he was sacked only once in less than 2.5 seconds.

Part of the reason the Bengals managed to go 9-8 despite an injury-plagued season from Joe Burrow is that Jake Browning stepped up. A surprise member of this top-10 list, Browning posted an 83.3% adjusted completion rate to tie Jared Goff for second best.

Over 2.5 Seconds

While Josh Allen led the league in big-time throws by a comfortable margin (30, next closest was Jordan Love with 24), he also finished second in turnover-worthy plays when having 2.5 seconds or more to throw, as his 16 trailed only Sam Howell’s 22. In the same vein, Allen also led the league with 18 touchdown passes on such plays, while his 13 interceptions trailed only Howell’s 17.

Interestingly, Matthew Stafford tied for second with Kirk Cousins in PFF passing grade (89.3) when having 2.5 seconds or more to throw. Stafford managed to complete only 55% of these passes, which ranked 22nd out of 42 qualifying quarterbacks. He made the most of his attempts, though, with a 22-to-5 big-time-throw-to-turnover-worthy-play ratio that trailed only Tyrod Taylor’s 11-to-1 ratio, though Taylor had more than half the dropbacks.

It’s no wonder the Patriots struggled to score points last season, based on how their quarterback duo fared when having time to throw. Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe were the two worst quarterbacks in football last season when having at least 2.5 seconds to throw, with Jones earning a 46.3 passing grade and Zappe a 33.1. The team will hope newcomers Jacoby Brissett and Drake Maye can make better use of the time their offensive line provides.


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