Air and Space: Under pressure

Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert

That pesky pass protection issue is starting to impact Air and Space. We have two of the NFL’s four most-sacked quarterbacks in our division, illustrated in the chart below:

Sacks happen for any number of reasons, multiple blitz packages among them. Are blitzes felling NFC North quarterbacks? I thought our friends over at ESPN Stats & Information found a neat way to analyze that question. Below, you’ll see how each quarterback has played when facing “standard” pressure and “added” pressure. In general terms, “standard” pressure translates to a defense’s base alignment.

A few comments on the data:

  • Rodgers has been sacked with greater frequency against the blitz (one for every 6.25 plays) than against standard pressure (one for every 10.2 plays). But as we’ve documented before, Rodgers tends to pass better in pressure situations when he manages to get the throw off.

  • Five of Favre’s seven sacks have come against added pressure.

  • All five of Stafford’s interceptions have come against standard pressure. That’s statistical evidence of what everyone already knows: He’s forcing passes more than he’s being confused by NFL coverage.

  • Cutler is averaging 8.9 yards per attempt against added pressure and 4.8 yards per attempt against standard pressure. That tells you he’s making his biggest plays against the blitz.