Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Pro Football Focus's Quarterback Deep Passing Leaders 2010-2014

by John Turney
Aaron Rogers. Digital art credit: John Turney
For almost a decade the Pro Football Focus website has been gaining in popularity and in credibility. ESPN The Magazine recently published an article detailing it's growth and also announced a partnership with PFF for this free agency season in ranking the available players.

In the coming months Nick Webster and I will be examining some statistics of PFF and of other subscription sites such as Football Outsiders and others for the work in detailing tackles, sacks, quarterback hits and hurries and tackles.

However, today we list the PFF deep passing leaders, which is featured as one of the "signature statistics" in the subscription section of their website. To get the full list and the year-by-year leaders of this an many other exclusive fans will have to sign for their "Premium stats".

Pro Football Focus defines their deep passing percentage as "Quarterback Deep Passing: The ability to successfully throw the deep ball is one that not all quarterbacks possess. The numbers here are all derived from passing attempts targeted 20 yards or more downfield." And what makes it unique is that they take away the element of dropped passes. If a quarterback throws the ball on the money and it is dropped, the scouts at PFF note that and don't count it against the accuracy of the passer.

To be able to include some of the recent draftees Pro Football Journal looked at the past five seasons worth of this signature statistic and compiled them. This list includes the top fifty most accurate deep passers who threw at least 54 passes twenty yards or more downfield from 2010-2014 (five seasons).
Source: Pro Football Focus. Graphic by PFJ
Derek Carr, who threw 71 such passes, ranks last. Teddy Bridgewater fell short of fifty attempts, but will likely debut high next year if he repeats his 46.3% rookie season. The year-to-year stalwarts such as Eli Manning, Rodgers, Brees, Peyton Manning are at or near the top in attempts. Russell Wilson, Michael Vick, Sam Bradford, Matt Schaub are among those in the middle in attempts, and Carr and E.J. Manuel have among the fewest for those just beginning their career. Some out-of-football quarterbacks still had enough attempts to qualify are Tavaris Jackson and Tim Tebow.

Brian Hoyer and Matt Moore had 88 and 89 deep passing attempts, respectively, since 2010 and were usually on the mark. They are the only two in the top thirteen who had fewer than 100 attempts at deep passes.

And to those who watch the sport, it is no surprise that Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees top the list. They are ones who have a scheme that allows those shots, receivers who can help it happen and protection that holds up.

A couple of surprises may Ben Roethlishberger and Joe Flacco ranking 3oth and 31st. Perhaps they take enough deep shots to be memorable but the misses are not burned into memory because if most fans were asked they may, based on recollection, rank both the rangy quarterbacks in the upper-tier of throwing deep.

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