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Week 3 Quick Reads | Football Outsiders

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Week 3 Quick Reads | Football Outsiders


by Vincent Verhei

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has taken a dozen sacks this season, losing 70 yards in the process. Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns has only taken 11 sacks, but he trumps Watson with 81 yards lost on those plays. Is that info meaningful? Do deeper sacks hurt an offense more than shallow sacks? Is there a point where an offense can play better by taking more sacks, so long as those sacks are closer to the line of scrimmage?

Let’s start by looking at which quarterbacks take the shallowest and deepest sacks. In the ten-year stretch from 2009 to 2018, there were 351 instances of a quarterback taking at least 16 sacks in a season — theoretically, one per scheduled game. (Marcus Mariota and Kyler Murray have already hit that threshold this season — congrats guys! — but since nobody else has, we’ll ignore 2019 for today.) That includes a number of players who didn’t meet our typical threshold of 200 dropbacks in a season, including five players from last season (C.J. Beathard, Jeff Driskel, Lamar Jackson, Cody Kessler, and Brock Osweiler). In 2014, Chad Henne of the Jacksonville Jaguars was sacked 16 times in only 94 dropbacks, the fewest dropbacks among the 351 player-seasons we’re analyzing here.

Case Keenum’s average sack with the Texans in 2013 lost 10.6 yards, most of any qualifier in the last ten years. The next year, a different Texans quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, lost 3.95 yards per sack, the fewest. Fitzpatrick is also in second place in that category with his 2016 season with the New York Jets.

Most/Fewest Yards Lost Per Sack, Single Season, 2009-2018
Most   Fewest
Name Yr Tm Sacks Yds/Sack Name Yr Tm Sacks Yds/Sack
C.Keenum 2013 HOU 19 10.58 R.Fitzpatrick 2014 HOU 21 3.95
R.Tannehill 2015 MIA 45 9.33 R.Fitzpatrick 2016 NYJ 19 4.26
J.Flacco 2014 BAL 19 8.79 C.Ponder 2013 MIN 27 4.41
C.Beathard 2018 SFO 18 8.67 L.Jackson 2018 BAL 16 4.44
C.Newton 2015 CAR 33 8.61 M.Vick 2014 NYJ 19 4.47
J.Goff 2016 LARM 26 8.54 T.Taylor 2016 BUF 42 4.57
K.Cousins 2017 WAS 41 8.34 J.Kitna 2010 DAL 21 4.76
B.Roethlisberger 2016 PIT 17 8.29 M.Ryan 2009 ATL 19 4.84
K.Cousins 2016 WAS 23 8.26 D.Carr 2016 OAK 16 4.94
C.Palmer 2009 CIN 26 8.19 J.Flacco 2018 BAL 16 4.94
Minimum 16 sacks taken.

The 2018 Ravens managed to place two quarterbacks on the shallow-sack leaderboard in Jackson and his predecessor, Joe Flacco. This is most significant because Flacco has usually taken deeper sacks than most quarterbacks. His average sack has lost 7.10 yards in his career; in Denver this year, he has averaged a loss of 7.36 yards on 11 sacks.

Here are the total leaderboards, looking at all players who took at least 48 sacks (three seasons as a hypothetical starter, though again some players get there much faster than that) in the past decade:

Most/Fewest Yards Lost Per Sack, All Seasons, 2009-2018
Most   Fewest
Name Sacks Yds/Sack Name Sacks Yds/Sack
R.Tannehill 248 7.60 C.Ponder 95 5.27
K.Cousins 146 7.60 R.Fitzpatrick 198 5.34
C.Newton 285 7.56 T.Taylor 142 5.45
M.Glennon 65 7.55 A.Smith 329 5.52
D.McNabb 88 7.36 M.Vick 129 5.63
J.Goff 84 7.35 M.Cassel 159 5.80
C.Keenum 105 7.19 B.Bortles 195 5.94
C.Palmer 232 7.16 D.Prescott 113 5.97
M.Schaub 127 7.10 C.McCoy 83 5.98
B.Osweiler 79 7.08 P.Rivers 334 6.04
Minimum 48 sacks taken.

The first thing you’ll notice here is that there is a large difference between players at the extremes in this category. Ryan Tannehill’s average sack has lost 44% more yards than Christian Ponder’s over their careers.

As you’d expect, you’ll find several names shuffled around in both sets of tables. Some obvious body types stick out too — the guys who take deep sacks are generally lead-footed statues (except for Donovan McNabb), while players who take shallow sacks are typically smaller and quicker (except for Philip Rivers).

Fitzpatrick’s repeat atop the shallow-sacks leaderboard is an indication that some quarterbacks might consistently take shallower and deeper sacks, and the numbers show he’s not an isolated example. Among the 223 instances of quarterbacks taking 16-plus sacks in back-to-back seasons, the year-to-year correlation in average sack depth was 0.462. This is fairly sticky given the random nature of most football stats.

With that in mind, you might expect to see certain types or styles of passers post similar sack depths, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Before starting this, I expected to find that deep-ball quarterbacks who averaged high yards per completion with low completion rates — your Jameis Winston, Cam Newton types — to take deeper sacks than their peers, but that isn’t true. There is practically zero correlation between completion, yardage, touchdown, or interception rates and sack depth. There is no relationship between sack depth and age or draft round either. As we noted earlier, there is some correlation between size and sack depth, but it’s very weak — just 0.095 for height and 0.089 for weight. In both categories, it’s the biggest players who take the deepest sacks. Players under 6-foot-4 had an average sack depth of 6.45 yards; that average climbed to 6.61 for players 6-foot-4 or taller. Players under 240 pounds had an average sack depth of 6.50 yards; that average climbed to 6.89 for players 240 pounds or heavier.

If any type of quarterbacks tend to take shallower sacks, it’s the extreme rushers. There have been eight quarterback seasons in the past decade that gained at least 20 percent of their total offense (rushing plus passing yards, minus yards lost on sacks) on the ground. (It’s a fascinating list: Josh Allen, Lamer Jackson, Terrelle Pryor, Tim Tebow, Michael Vick, Russell Wilson, and Robert Griffin twice.) The average sack depth in those eight seasons was 6.14 yards. The average for all other quarterback seasons was 6.54 yards.

Does any of this actually matter? DVOA accounts for specific yardage on each play, and thus deeper sacks have a harsher penalty than shallow ones. In the big picture, though, that doesn’t seem to matter. The correlation between pass offense DVOA and sack rate last year was -0.575; the correlation between pass offense DVOA and yards lost on sacks per dropback was weaker at -0.527. And average sack depth was basically neutral at -0.029. Taking big sacks is bad, but it’s better to avoid sacks entirely than to worry about about how close they come to the line of scrimmage.

Quarterbacks

Rk

Player

Team

CP/AT

Yds

TD

INT

Sacks

Total
DYAR

Pass
DYAR

Rush
DYAR

Opp

1.

Matt Ryan ATL

29/34

304

3

1

0

195

194

0

IND

Ryan didn’t complete either of his third-down throws in the first half. (In his defense, they came with 11 and 15 yards to go.) He picked up first downs on all seven of his third-down throws in the second half: six completions for 72 yards and a touchdown, and a 15-yard DPI on third-and-11.

2.

Patrick Mahomes KC

28/37

374

3

0

1

173

174

-1

BAL

Mahomes was best when throwing to his left: 14-of-16 for 203 yards and all three touchdowns.

3.

Russell Wilson SEA

32/49

406

2

0

0

172

142

30

NO

There was certainly some late-game stat-padding here. Only Matt Ryan had more DYAR in the fourth quarter or overtime this week, when Wilson went 16-of-28 for 211 yards and a touchdown. But each of those throws came with Seattle trailing by at least 12 points. He was in the middle of pack in DYAR through three quarters.

4.

Jacoby Brissett IND

28/37

310

2

0

1

161

157

4

ATL

Brissett completed each of his first 16 passes, accumulating 178 yards and 130 DYAR over that stretch.

5.

Deshaun Watson HOU

25/34

351

3

0

2

157

165

-9

LAC

Watson was nearly perfect on L.A.’s side of the field, going 7-of-8 for 111 yards with two touchdowns and a sack. He had a 53-yard touchdown from just outside L.A. territory too.

6.

Tom Brady NE

29/42

306

2

0

0

134

134

0

NYJ

Brady led the league in first-quarter DYAR this week. In the first 15 minutes, he went 11-of-13 for 154 yards and a touchdown.

7.

Kirk Cousins MIN

16/21

174

1

0

0

86

88

-2

OAK

Cousins ranks this high even though he didn’t throw a single pass in the fourth quarter … and yet he would actually rank lower if we ignored the fourth quarter for everyone. There were some bad fourth quarters this week, is what that means.

8.

Dak Prescott DAL

19/32

246

2

1

1

85

72

13

MIA

Prescott was actually below replacement level in the first half, but then he caught fire in the third quarter, when only Matt Ryan had more DYAR. Prescott completed all nine of his third-quarter passes for 137 yards and a touchdown, taking one sack.

9.

Gardner Minshew JAX

20/30

204

2

0

0

83

80

3

TEN

Minshew’s another quarterback who played best in the first quarter this week: 7-of-8 for 85 yards and two touchdowns.

10.

Kyle Allen CAR

19/26

261

4

0

2

83

87

-5

ARI

Allen had three goal-to-go touchdowns against Arizona, but he wasn’t reliant on short passes. On throws that traveled at least 10 yards downfield, he went 9-of-12 for 195 yards and a touchdown. He would rank higher if he had not fumbled on both of his sacks.

11.

Jameis Winston TB

23/36

380

3

1

4

81

95

-14

NYG

Winston was very good in building Tampa Bay’s lead and then very bad as it withered away. From the point the Bucs went up 25-10 to when the Giants took the lead, Winston went 8-of-16 for 74 yards with two sacks and an interception. He then hit completions of 20 and 44 yards to set up a potential game-winning field goal, but, you know. Bucs kickers.

12.

Aaron Rodgers GB

17/29

235

1

0

0

75

75

0

DEN

Rodgers avoided sacks and interceptions, but after a good first quarter he did very little to help Green Bay win. In the last 45 minutes his success rate was just 30%. Only Kyler Murray and Luke Falk were worse among starters this week. In those three quarters, Rodgers went 12-of-20 for 126 yards, which sounds OK, but 73 of those yards came on the only four completions that picked up first downs.

Rk

Player

Team

CP/AT

Yds

TD

INT

Sacks

Total
DYAR

Pass
DYAR

Rush
DYAR

Opp

13.

Teddy Bridgewater NO

19/27

177

2

0

0

72

86

-14

SEA

Bridgewater’s average pass attempt traveled 3.5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, least of any passer this week. Nine of his completions, 78 of his yards, and both of his touchdowns came on throws to receivers at or behind the line of scrimmage.

14.

Matthew Stafford DET

18/32

201

1

0

0

64

64

0

PHI

In one stretch over the second and third quarters, Stafford went 10 straight throws without picking up a first down, completing four passes for all of 10 yards.

15.

Carson Wentz PHI

19/36

259

2

0

3

64

54

10

DET

Stafford’s counterpart on Sunday went through his own dry spell, but it came at the most critical part of the game. On seven throws with Philadelphia down by three points late in the fourth quarter, Wentz went 2-of-7 for 7 yards.

16.

Mitchell Trubisky CHI

25/31

231

3

1

3

53

55

-3

WAS

17.

Daniel Jones NYG

23/36

336

2

0

5

46

20

26

TB

The Giants may have found their quarterback, but they still need offensive linemen. Jones was somehow sacked on four straight dropbacks in the second half. (There are six teams that haven’t given up that many sacks all season, and not coincidentally, those teams have a combined record of 15-2-1.) Jones didn’t help matters by fumbling twice on sacks — once in the second quarter, once in the fourth.

18.

Philip Rivers LAC

31/46

318

2

0

5

43

47

-4

HOU

Rivers had 129 DYAR on throws to Keenan Allen, but -81 DYAR on his other 36 dropbacks. The first play of the fourth quarter saw Rivers complete a pass to Lance “He’s still in the league?” Kendricks for a 13-yard gain on second-and-11. That was the last time any Chargers receiver other than Allen would produce a first down. From that point forward, Rivers went 1-of-9 for 9 yards to targets not wearing uniform No. 13.

19.

Josh Allen BUF

24/35

243

1

1

1

7

13

-5

CIN

Allen made some big plays in this game, but he still made some bad mistakes (a 22-yard loss for intentional grounding on third-and-2 in field goal range!) and a long dry spell. From the time the Bills went up 14-0 to the point that the Bengals took a 17-14 lead, Allen went 5-of-10 for 25 yards and a very bad interception.

20.

Derek Carr OAK

27/34

242

2

1

4

6

10

-3

MIN

Carr did not throw for a first down until the Raiders were down 21-0 in the second quarter. Up to that point, he had gone 3-of-5 for 7 yards with two sacks and an interception. If you thought Russell Wilson was a fourth-quarter stat-padder, check out Carr’s late-game dink-and-dunk-a-thon: 13-of-15 for 115 yards with one touchdown and one sack, all with Oakland trailing by at least 24 points.

21.

Lamar Jackson BAL

22/43

267

0

0

3

6

-11

17

KC

On four separate trips into the red zone, Jackson went 0-for-6 with a sack. He also had three red zone runs, all scrambles: a 7-yard gain on third-and-10, another 7-yard gain on the ensuing fourth-and-3, and a 9-yard touchdown on second-and-goal.

22.

Marcus Mariota TEN

23/40

304

0

0

9

-26

-42

16

JAX

Mariota did not convert a third- or fourth-down throw untll the Titans were down by two touchdowns in the second half. Eight of his nine sacks also came with that big second-half deficit. He only had one trip in the red zone: he threw incomplete on second and third down, then took a sack on fourth down.

Rk

Player

Team

CP/AT

Yds

TD

INT

Sacks

Total
DYAR

Pass
DYAR

Rush
DYAR

Opp

23.

Jimmy Garoppolo SF

23/32

277

1

2

1

-28

-32

3

PIT

Garoppolo had two aborted snaps in the first half; no other quarterback has two aborted snaps this season. Thanks in part to all of San Francisco’s turnovers, he only had five third-down throws, completing four of them for 57 yards and three conversions.

24.

Baker Mayfield CLE

18/36

195

1

1

3

-29

-9

-20

LAR

As noted frequently in Audibles, Mayfield has a tendency to drift to his right under pressure … which is why it’s so strange that his numbers on throws to his right were so poor: 7-of-19 for 47 yards with an interception, plus a 15-yard DPI on a 20th throw.

25.

Andy Dalton CIN

20/35

249

1

2

2

-39

-46

7

BUF

Dalton was impressive rallying the Bengals to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but it’s largely his fault they fell behind in the first place. No quarterback this week had worse DYAR in the first half, when Dalton went 5-of-13 for 63 yards with as many first downs (one) as sacks. (It was actually even worse than that for the Bengals as his receivers fumbled two of those completions away, although one of those came on an end-of-half lateral play.) And then midway through the third quarter he added another sack and an interception before Cincinnati’s late surge.

26.

Josh Rosen MIA

18/39

200

0

0

3

-46

-44

-2

DAL

Rosen’s DYAR is so low mainly because of his struggles in short- and medium-yardage situations. With 6 yards or less to go for a first down, he went 5-of-14 for 63 yards with a 26-yard DPI, one sack, and only five conversions. For comparison’s sake, quarterbacks have picked up first downs on more than half their dropbacks with 6 yards or less to go this season.

27.

Jared Goff LAR

24/38

269

2

2

2

-47

-38

-9

CLE

After a largely uneventful first half, Goff had quite a rollercoaster in the second half, when he threw both of his touchdowns and both of his interceptions.

28.

Case Keenum WAS

30/42

332

2

3

4

-55

-60

6

CHI

29.

Luke Falk NYJ

12/22

98

0

1

5

-92

-92

0

NE

Falk only threw for five first downs against New England, and four of them came after the Patriots had built a 20-0 lead. He did not convert a third- or fourth-down play, going 4-of-7 for 14 yards with an interception and two sacks. He did not throw a single pass in the red zone; in fact, he did not throw a single pass within New England’s 40-yard line. He only had three plays in New England territory: two incompletions and a sack.

30.

Joe Flacco DEN

20/28

213

0

1

6

-93

-97

4

GB

Some quarterbacks thrive on first downs because defenses are expecting a run. And then there’s Flacco, who went 3-of-7 for 24 yards and two sacks on first-down dropbacks. Despite losing for almost the entire game, Flacco only tried two deep passes, both in the third quarter. One was completed to Courtland Sutton for a 52-yard gain; perhaps he should throw deep more often.

31.

Mason Rudolph PIT

14/27

174

2

1

2

-93

-90

-3

SF

Before hitting some big plays late, Rudolph was absolutely miserable in this game. At one point in the third quarter, he had gone 9-of-20 for 45 yards with one sack, one interception, and -64 DYAR. Rudolph’s final numbers would look even worse if his receivers had not made big plays with the ball in their hands — 80% of his total yardage came after the catch, most of any starter this week.

32.

Kyler Murray ARI

30/43

173

2

2

8

-140

-166

26

CAR

Murray threw a league-high 12 failed completions, in large part because his average completion was caught just 2.0 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, also the worst mark in the league. His 3-yard touchdown to David Johnson gave Arizona the lead early in the third quarter, but it was his last first down on the day. In the Arizona’s final five drives, he went 6-of-13 for 25 yards with two interceptions and five sacks. He had -123 passing DYAR in the fourth quarter alone.

 

Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Total)

Rk

Player

Team

Runs

Rush
Yds

Rush
TD

Rec

Rec
Yds

Rec
TD

Total
DYAR

Rush
DYAR

Rec
DYAR

Opp

1.

Mark Ingram BAL

16

103

3

4/4

32

0

84

70

13

KC

Each of Ingram’s carries gained at least 1 yard and he had an absurd success rate of 81%. He had eight first downs on the ground, including gains of 19 and 21 yards. Two of his receptions also produced first downs.

2.

Alvin Kamara NO

16

69

1

8/11

92

1

58

10

48

SEA

Kamara was stuffed just once and had four first downs rushing, the longest a 16-yarder. His eight receptions lost 17 yards in the air but Kamara produced 104 yards after the catch, including four first downs. He gained a fifth first down on a DPI in the red zone.

3.

Tony Pollard DAL

13

103

1

3/3

25

0

57

47

10

MIA

All of Pollard’s carries gained at least 1 yard, four gained at least 10 yards, and six produced first downs. His success rate on the ground was 69%. He also had a first down as a receiver.

4.

Ezekiel Elliott DAL

19

125

0

2/3

14

0

57

50

6

MIA

Guys, I’m starting to get the impression that the Miami Dolphins are a bad team. In particular we don’t talk enough about how bad their defensive front is — Elliott was stuffed on just one of his carries against Miami. Eight of his carries went for first downs, and six gained 10 yards or more.

5.

Dalvin Cook MIN

16

110

1

4/5

33

0

47

42

5

OAK

All of Cook’s carries gained at least 1 yard. He had five first downs rushing, including a 25-yarder and three others that gained 10-plus yards. As a receiver, he had an 18-yard gain on third-and-18 and a 12-yard gain on third-and-2.

 

Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Rushing)

Rk

Player

Team

Runs

Rush
Yds

Rush
TD

Rec

Rec
Yds

Rec
TD

Total
DYAR

Rush
DYAR

Rec
DYAR

Opp

1.

Mark Ingram BAL

16

103

3

4/4

32

0

84

70

13

KC

2.

Ezekiel Elliott DAL

19

125

0

2/3

14

0

57

50

6

MIA

3.

Tony Pollard DAL

13

103

1

3/3

25

0

57

47

10

MIA

4.

Dalvin Cook MIN

16

110

1

4/5

33

0

47

42

5

OAK

5.

Phillip Lindsay DEN

21

81

2

4/5

49

0

45

29

15

GB

Mr. Consistency. None of Lindsay’s carries gained more than 9 yards and only four gained first downs, but two of those first downs were 1-yard scoring plays, and he was stuffed for no gain just once. He picked up a first down on four of his five carries with 3 yards or less to go for a first down.

 

Worst Running Back by DYAR (Total)

Rk

Player

Team

Runs

Rush
Yds

Rush
TD

Rec

Rec
Yds

Rec
TD

Total
DYAR

Rush
DYAR

Rec
DYAR

Opp

1.

Chris Carson SEA

15

53

0

1/1

-2

0

-43

-37

-6

NO

Carson’s only first down came on a 16-yard run in the first quarter. He also had a 23-yard run in the second quarter, but fumbled the ball away at the end of that play, watching the Saints scoop it up and run it back for a touchdown. None of his other 13 carries gained more than four yards, none counted as a successful play, five of them resulted in stuffs, and together they gained a total of 14 yards. His only catch was a 2-yard loss on third-and-13.

 

Worst Running Back by DYAR (Rushing)

Rk

Player

Team

Runs

Rush
Yds

Rush
TD

Rec

Rec
Yds

Rec
TD

Total
DYAR

Rush
DYAR

Rec
DYAR

Opp

1.

Chris Carson SEA

15

53

0

1/1

-2

0

-43

-37

-6

NO

 

Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR

Rk

Player

Team

Rec

Att

Yds

Avg

TD

Total
DYAR

Opp

1.

Keenan Allen LAC

13

17

183

14.1

2

72

HOU

Allen’s totals include 71 DYAR receiving, 1 DYAR rushing for his one carry for 3 yards. Eight of his receptions gained first downs, the longest a 34-yarder, and he had three conversions on third or fourth down.

2.

Julio Jones ATL

8

9

128

16.0

1

71

IND

Seven of Jones’ eight receptions gained at least 10 yards and a first down. He had a ninth first down on a 15-yard DPI.

3.

Mike Evans TB

8

15

190

23.8

3

63

NYG

You won’t often see a receiver with seven incomplete targets in the top five, but you won’t see a receiver with three touchdowns too often either. The touchdowns may not have been his biggest catches, either — they averaged 14.7 yards apiece, while his other five catches averaged 29.2.

4.

Taylor Gabriel CHI

6

7

75

12.5

3

60

WAS

Gabriel’s totals include 54 DYAR receiving, 6 DYAR rushing for his one carry for 7 yards.

5.

Amari Cooper DAL

6

7

88

14.7

2

56

MIA

Five of Cooper’s catches produced first downs, including a pair of red zone touchdowns and a 37-yard gain.

 

Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR

Rk

Player

Team

Rec

Att

Yds

Avg

TD

Total
DYAR

Opp

1.

John Ross CIN

2

6

22

11.0

0

-42

BUF

Ah, that’s the John Ross we’re used to. Ross barely played in his rookie season in 2018 and gained only 210 yards in 13 games last season, then busted out this year with 158 yards against Seattle and 112 against San Francisco. Buffalo shut him down though, and he had as many fumbles (one) as first downs against the Bills.


http://www.footballoutsiders.com/quick-reads/2019/week-3-quick-reads

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