This final game will likely be Garoppolo’s last for the 49ers. Kyle Shanahan hits publicly confirmed that his team had “passed on Trey [Lance].” Offseason shoulder surgery (among other things) bogged down Garoppolo’s trade market, and he’ll likely be released at some point soon. The Seahawks seem like the only team that could have free agency, but if they thought Garoppolo would be an upgrade of Drew Lock and Geno Smith, they surely would have traded him by now. Garoppolo may have no choice but to sit out the 2022 season and return in 2023. As short as it is, that pressure-free DVOA should look awfully attractive to a contending team in need of a quarterback — especially since performance from a clean pocket has historically been more consistent than performance under pressure.
Garoppolo isn’t the only passer whose numbers have dropped significantly under pressure. Let’s look at the remaining five of the bottom five as measured by decline in DVOA:
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers’ MVP campaign was fueled by god-level performance from a clean pocket: 77.2% completion percentage, 7.52% touchdown percentage, 0.23% interception percentage, all league bests. But he completed just 30.3 percent of his passes for 3.12 yards per throw when under pressure, ranking second to last in both categories, ahead of Zach Wilson and Tyler Huntley, respectively.
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
As previously mentioned, Burrow led the NFL with 9.59 yards per throw from a clean pocket. But under pressure, he ranked among the bottom five qualifiers in both interception percentage and sack percentage.
Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
Tannehill’s non-pressure numbers were close to league average across the board, but when he was harassed by defenders, he ranked in the bottom 10 in interception percentage, sack percentage and completion yards. That last number is more important than you might think because the best quarterbacks under pressure were usually the ones who could escape the pass rush and hit receivers downfield for big gains. Patrick Mahomes, for example, led the NFL with a staggering 17.3 yards per completion when under pressure.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
Mayfield was sacked 43 times in just 115 snaps under pressure. That’s a sack rate of 37.4% when under pressure, which was the worst in the league. Now he moves from a great offensive line in Cleveland to Carolina, where Sam Darnold had one of the highest pressure levels in the league. This could go badly.
Josh Allen: Pass rushing proof
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen spent most of the 2021 season living — and thriving — under pressure. He had 214 plays under pressure, 22 more than anyone else, and he led the NFL with 165 passing yards, 913 yards and 13 touchdowns (five more than anyone else) when under pressure. Oh, and he was only sacked 26 times – that’s a 13.6% sack rate under pressure, the lowest of any qualified quarterback all year. That mobility did more than get Allen out of foul trouble—he gained a league-best 444 yards from scrambles, and his 74% scramble success rate was higher than anyone in the top 10. Combine his sacks and scrambles, and we find that even when pass rushers tackled Allen, he still managed to average 4.0 yards. (And that’s not even counting what he did on planned runs.) The worst clean-pocket quarterback is still better than the best pressure quarterback, but no quarterback is less bad under pressure than Alan.
Other defenders who ranked higher under pressure than from a clean pocket include:
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Prescott threw just one interception under pressure all season and had the lowest interception rate under pressure of any full-time starter. (Baltimore’s Tyler Huntley had zero interceptions on 34 snaps.)
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
As we saw with Alan, quality shuffling is sometimes the best way to overcome tension. Jackson wasn’t as dangerous a scrambler as Allen in 2021, but he was still awfully efficient, ranking second in carries and fourth in yards despite missing five games. He was also an explosive passer under pressure, ranking in the top 10 in both passing yards and completion yards.
Jacoby Brissett, CLEVELAND BROWNS
Brissett is the anti-Rogers—he’s only looked good under pressure, relatively speaking, because he’s been terrible out of a clean pocket, where his 6.0 yards per pass and 8.5 yards per completion were league worst. Enjoy, Browns fans!
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
Another scrambler and the most prolific of all. Hurts led the NFL with 50 scrambles and was second to Allen with 416 yards… and when you consider that Allen threw over 200 more passes, Hurts would have blown him away in scramble frequency if that was something we wanted to compile. Hurts also excelled when he was bullied at avoiding sacks (fifth-lowest sack percentage) and making big plays (sixth-best yards per completion).
The following table shows the pressure values for all quarterbacks with at least 200 passing yards in 2021. Quarterbacks are ranked from lowest pressure percentage (Tom Brady, 15.7%) to highest (Justin Fields, 34.7%) ).
|Quarterbacks and pressures, 2021|
|Yds Diff.||DVOA Misc.|
|Ben Roethlisberger||A PIT||655||16.9%||1.7||-119.8%||6.4||26.1%||-4.7||-145.9%|
The tension is drawn for us by our friends at Sports information solutions. We note a pressure when there is a rush or a dump that is not a cover or a “failed tackle”. QB hits after the pass will not count as a pressure here if the quarterback was not rushed before the throw.