QBs in Focus: Play Action | PFF News & Analysis | PFF

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QBs in Focus: Play Action

qb-month-play-actionThough we certainly miss football during the offseason, it’s always a good time to take a step back and analyze our plethora of data.

We’re often so busy grading and collecting data during the season that we’re unable to put a lot of the information to good use. With that said, we’ve decided to declare June as “QB Month” as we break down NFL quarterbacks every which way.

We’re going to examine quarterbacks from a number of situations before looking at each of them individually. The grades and numbers should reveal each quarterback’s strengths and weaknesses from the 2013 season.

As we go through this series, it’s important to understand the relationship between QB Rating (NFL’s version) and PFF Grade.

While QB Rating is obviously supposed to be a QB statistic, it’s actually a better gauge of what the entire offense did in a given situation. This is the type of information that is actually extremely valuable to our NFL team customers as their game planning efforts must go towards stopping an entire passing offense, not just the quarterback.

 If the quarterback throws an easy dump off pass to the RB who then weaves through the defense for the touchdown, it’s certainly not a great indicator of quarterbacking skill as it is the running back and defense accounting for the majority of the work on the play. Of course the QB Rating will look quite shiny in that situation.

On the other hand, PFF Grade is a good indicator of how well the quarterback actually performed in a given situation. Whether they throw an accurate pass that was dropped, or perhaps an inaccurate one that should have been intercepted and the defense dropped, the PFF grade will account for those situations with a positive and a negative grade respectively while QB Rating will simply reflect the 0-for-1 passing.

It’s important to distinguish between QB Rating and PFF grade, though there’s a good chance they’ll match up in most situations.


With Play Action

Play Action

Play Action (2)

•  Philip Rivers led the league in Accuracy Percentage (86.2%), completion percentage (73.0%), and success rate (55.8%) when using play action.

•  Drew Brees led the league with 176 play action dropbacks, but his usage on 25.2% of his dropbacks only ranked 12th. Russell Wilson had the highest percentage of play action dropbacks with 34.1%. A league-high 40% of Wilson’s play actions were designed rollouts

•  Ben Roethlisberger used play action only 11.6% of his snaps, the lowest percentage in the league.


No Play Action

No Play Action

No Play Action (2)

•  Passer rating with play action is 97.2 compared to 83.0 without, though the numbers are obviously situational and skewed by goal line work.

•  Joe Flacco ranked second with 587 non-play action drop-backs, but his -17.2 grade ranked second to last.

•  Nick Foles’ average depth of target with play action: 14.6. Without play action: 7.5


First Down Play Action

1st Down Play Action

1st Down Play Action (2)

•  We added in first down play actions as an extra comparison. Colin Kaepernick used play action on 46.2% of his first-down drop-backs, highest percentage in the league.

•  Foles took a number of those deep shots on first down as his 19.3 average yards per target led the league. Tom Brady ranked second with an aDOT of 18.3.

•  Robert Griffin III ranked last with a -9.0 grade on first down play actions, including a QB Rating of 46.5.


For the entire set of “QBs in Focus” posts, click here.


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