News & Analysis

The NFL's best quarterbacks working from clean and pressured pockets in 2018

By Connor Price
Jul 11, 2019

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In an ever-growing arms race of passer versus pass-rush, the quarterbacks who are unable to maneuver a collapsing pocket are becoming more and more invaluable. Below, in reverse order, you’ll find the quarterbacks who had the smallest difference in passing grade from clean-pocket dropbacks compared to their pressured dropbacks in 2018.

HONORABLE MENTION: KIRK COUSINS, MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Clean pocket: 84.7
Under pressure: 61.7
Difference (+/-): 23.0

In his first year with Minnesota, Cousins faced pressure on a career-high 39.0% of his dropbacks but outdid the league in adjusted completion percentage (73.5%) when under duress. The Vikings’ signal-caller obtained a pressured passer rating of 83.1 to go along with his clean-pocket passer rating of 108.5. 

5.  MATT RYAN, ATLANTA FALCONS

Clean pocket: 83.4
Under pressure: 60.6
Difference (+/-): 22.8

Although Matt Ryan earned the most moderate PFF grade from a pressured pocked on this list, he still sustained a league-best 87.1 passer rating as well as a 7.4 yard per attempt mark. 

From a clean pocket, Ryan earned a 114.4 passer rating which ranked fourth in the NFL. The basis of this rating was not a result of dink-and-dunk passing either — 44.1% of his clean pocket passes traveled past the sticks when targeting his receiver (fifth among qualifying quarterbacks).

4. PHILIP RIVERS, LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Clean pocket: 90.4
Under pressure: 70.3
Difference (+/-): 20.1

Philip Rivers did an excellent job of hiding the Chargers’ O-line flaws a season ago. Of his 674 dropbacks in 2018, 316 were stifled as a result of the Chargers’ 31st ranked pass-block unit (61.9), but he still managed to earn a 70.3 grade and a 67.5% adjusted completion percentage on these plays. 

Perhaps even more impressive was his performance from a clean pocket. Rivers tied for fourth with an 8.3 yard per attempt mark as a result of 42% of his throws venturing further than the sticks when working from a clean pocket. 

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