News & Analysis

QBs in Focus: Deep Passing

QBs-in-focus-deepWe had some fun last summer breaking down quarterback play from every angle, so we’ve decided to dig into the database again to review the 2014 season. One of the beauties of collecting data on every play of the season is the ability to then isolate each player’s strengths and weaknesses. This series will take a look at how quarterbacks performed in various situations, looking beyond just the overall grades that are posted on the site.

As always with PFF grades, it’s important to remember that we are isolating the quarterback’s role in the play from everyone else. We are evaluating the decision making and the throw, not necessarily the result. A great pass that gets dropped by a receiver receives the same credit it would have if the pass was caught, while an ill-advised pass into coverage that is dropped by a linebacker is downgraded as if it was intercepted. It’s important to remember this distinction when diving into the grades.

Short and intermediate passing already shown, here’s a look at how quarterbacks fared in the deep passing game in 2014.

*Minimum 200 drop-backs to qualify
*Playoffs Included
*All grades are normalized so that the NFL average is 0 for each category.

QB 2130 pct

– The 21-30 yard range is essentially the border between an intermediate and a deep pass, and there are a number of different types of throws than can be made at this range.

– Alex Smith threw only 2.5% of his passes at this range, just above Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill.

QB 21-30 grade

– Despite throwing the second-highest percentage of passes in this range, Colin Kaepernick ranked sixth from the bottom in the grading.

– It was a dominant effort from Tony Romo at 21-30 yards despite only a league-average 6.9% of his throws in this range.

– Teddy Bridgewater makes his second appearance at second overall (11-20 yard range), as he made the most of his 21-30 yard throws.

QB 31-40 pct

– Mike Glennon tops the list in both the 21-30 yard and the 31-40 yard ranges while teammate Josh McCown comes in right behind him with 5.1% of his passes at 31-40 yards.

– Perhaps surprising to see Eagles QB Mark Sanchez at the bottom of this list given the Eagles’ affection for the vertical passing game.

QB 31-40 grade

– Yet another place where Aaron Rodgers was the best in the league, he also topped the grading list in the 1-10 yard range.

– And here is where Bridgewater struggled as he ranked last at 31-40 yards with fellow rookie, Derek Carr, helping to round out the bottom three.

QB 40plus pct

– Not only did Drew Stanton throw the highest percentage of passes at 40+ yards but he also topped the grading at +3.4.

– Though Joe Flacco threw low percentages in the 21-40 yard range, the Ravens still let him unleash the deep bomb for which he’s known.

– Only 0.2% of Alex Smith’s passes traveled beyond 40 yards, with Peyton Manning just behind him at 0.5 percent.

QB 40plus grade

– Surprising top of the list as Drew Stanton, Josh McCown, and Robert Griffin III posted the highest grades at 40+ yards.

– Brian Hoyer threw the fourth-highest percentage of 40+ yard passes but his -3.2 grade ranked last.


Follow Steve on Twitter: @PFF_Steve


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