A couple of weeks ago, I saw on ESPN a graphic that had the QB that were most often under pressure. That is, out of all the times they dropped back to pass, what % was there defensive pressure on the QB. At the time, I was very surprised to see that Tarvaris Jackson wasn’t on the list, especially given all the sacks the Seahawks had given up.
Then today, I stumbled across this article from ProFootballFocus.com that actually had all the data, including where Jackson landed on the list. There’s also some very interesting information that can be gleamed from all the data. There’s actually 3 parts: How often a QB is under pressure, how often that pressure leads to sacks, and the accuracy of the QB when there’s pressure.
For the record, Jackson and the Seahawks rank 11th passes thrown under pressure. That’s 11th from the bottom in terms of pass protection. 37.1% of the times Jackson has dropped back to pass, the defense has been able to apply pressure. That’s not good, but it’s also not nearly as bad as I’d thought it was.
Just for reference, Michael Vick is pressured 47.1% of the time, which is the highest %, and Matt Hasselbeck is pressured just 15.9% of the time, which is the best in the NFL. Those of you who are looking at Matt’s stats for the year and wondering how he can possibly be playing so well, there’s the reason. No QB in the league is getting better protection than Hasselbeck.
My first reaction when seeing that was that perhaps the offensive line had been playing better than we all thought. Sadly, that’s not the case. What’s missing here is the number of times that the Seahawks have had to keep a TE, or back, or both in to help with pass protection. The Seahawks are still in the bottom third of the league in protecting the quarterback despite using backs and TE in pass protection more than most of the other teams in the NFL.
Another thing we can learn from the data from ProFootballFocus is that Jackson gets sacked more than he probably should. Out of all the plays that the opposing teams were able to get pressure, Jackson was sacked 27.1% of the time. That’s the third worst % in the entire league. Only Alex Smith (29.2%) and Jay Cutler (30.8%) are worse. The best so far this year has been Oakland’s Jason Campbell who has been sacked just 4.7% of the times he’s been pressured.
This definitely supports my criticism of Jackson that he holds the ball too long and actually helps generate sacks. Remember that in 8 of the 14 sacks given up by the Seahawks this season, Jackson has had time to throw the ball, even if it was to just throw the ball away. On a positive note, there was significant improvement in this regard this past Sunday against Atlanta.
Finally, the last things we can examine is the accuracy of the quarterbacks when they are under pressure. To try and eliminate as many variables as possible, dropped passes are counted as completions and passes thrown away are eliminated from the data pool. This means that we’re only looking at how often the QB had been able to hit their target despite the pressure.
In this regard, Jackson ranks 12th out of all NFL quarterbacks at 61.1% That’s not that bad to be honest. The problem with that is that he takes so many sacks in those situation. Had he thrown the ball, you’d presume that his numbers would be lower. Just for reference points, the best in the league has been Eli Manning at 71%, while the worst has been Mark Sanchez and 39.1%.
Still, that’s actually a pretty good number for Jackson. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s a reason why Carroll and Schneider picked him to be QB, and why they haven’t given too much thought to replacing him with Charlie Whitehurst. Until the O-line improves significantly, the Seahawks need a QB who can consistently completely passes when under pressure, and Jackson has been better than average at doing so thus far.