Mailbag: Time in pocket for all NFCN QBs

Jeff of Chicago noted the earlier post on the Jay Cutler's pocket timing and asked: "Could you post the time and ranking of the other QBs in the NFCN? I'm most curious where Aaron Rodgers falls, since he gets a lot of criticism for the same thing Cutler does here."

Ask and you shall receive. (Sometimes. When I'm in the mood.)

The chart, courtesy of the data mine of ESPN Stats & Information, shows the average amount of time each NFC North quarterback spent in the pocket (TIP) before the pass during the 2012 season. NFL rankings are based on quarterbacks with at least two starts, and I also threw in the sack rate per drop-back to give you the best apples-to-apples comparison that I could between TIP and sacks.

(It's important to note that TIP doesn't factor in the time a quarterback spends outside of the pocket before a pass. But my sense is that most sacks occur on plays when quarterbacks stay in the pocket.)

To be sure, holding the ball too long is one of multiple reasons a sack can occur. Pass protection, coverage and play calls all play in to it as well. But it's worth noting the difference between, say, Matthew Stafford's average time and sack rate with that of Cutler and Rodgers.

Rodgers' numbers probably require a separate conversation that we'll only start today. I was asked in Tuesday's SportsNation chat if there is anything Rodgers could do better. My response: The Packers would love to reduce his sack total, which is at least a partial reflection of his responsibility.

Rodgers has been accused over the years of holding the ball too long, leading to additional sacks. The counterargument, which I accept for the most part, is that holding the ball for longer than an optimal time can also lead to more big plays. Would you trade a few additional sacks if you knew the approach would also lead to more touchdowns? Probably.

So I'm not ready to make any grand judgments on Rogers' TIP and his sack total. The numbers are open to interpretation. But to answer Jeff's original question: Yes, based on the way ESPN Stats & Information times it, Rodgers holds the ball in the pocket longer than any other NFC North quarterback.