Jones piled up 12.5 sacks last season, and the Cardinals are hoping he can give them a boost in that department in 2016 and beyond.
While it remains to be seen what Jones’ exact role will be in Arizona, the pass-rushing philosophy on his new team varied greatly from his old team in 2015. No team blitzed more than the Cardinals (45.1 percent of the time) last season, yet they ranked just 20th in sacks per dropback.
The Patriots, meanwhile, blitzed less (19 percent) than any defense, yet they had the second-best sack rate (7.3 percent).
During the season, in defensive meeting rooms across the league, coaches spend their days trying to scheme ways to attack opposing offenses. A major factor they’re forced to weigh is how the quarterback they’re facing performs against the blitz.
Keeping that in mind, below is a look at the five best and five worst quarterbacks against the blitz last season, using a number of different statistical criteria. All numbers are courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information.
Carson Palmer: The 36-year-old has had success against the blitz. He led all quarterbacks, averaging 8.45 yards per dropback against pressure looks last season. Palmer completed 65 percent of his passes (second) and averaged 9.35 yards per attempt (third). Over the last three years, no quarterback has produced a better average yards per dropback (7.62) than Palmer. His success hasn’t stopped opposing defensive coordinators from sending pressure. Only three quarterbacks were blitzed more than Palmer in 2015.
Tom Brady: His 12-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio against the blitz was tops in the NFL. Sending pressure against Brady in the red zone worked out horribly for opponents. He went 18-of-25 on 26 dropbacks in those situations. Eleven of those completions resulted in touchdowns, and he didn’t take a single sack. Over the past three seasons, Brady has posted a 105.8 passer rating against the blitz, second best in the NFL.
Andy Dalton: He consistently beats defenses with a quick trigger. Against the blitz, Dalton got rid of the ball on average in 2.02 seconds, the fastest time in the NFL last season. His 112.4 passer rating against pressure looks last year was second in the NFL, and over the past three seasons Dalton has averaged 7.31 yards per dropback against the blitz (second).
Cam Newton: Over the first four years of his career, Newton had a 1.95-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio against the blitz. Last year, that number skyrocketed to 6.33-to-1. In the red zone, Newton completed 68.6 percent of his passes for 14 touchdowns and no picks against pressure looks. Overall, Newton’s 111.8 passer rating against the blitz was third best in the league. Yet the numbers didn’t stop teams from trying to send extra guys at him. Newton faced pressure looks on 39.7 percent of his dropbacks, second most in the league.
Brock Osweiler: His numbers against the blitz were far better than Peyton Manning’s last season. Osweiler led the NFL in yards per attempt (9.83) and passer rating (114.6) against pressure looks. Manning was 24th and 26th, respectively, in those categories. Osweiler has just seven career starts, so it’s a small sample size, but his success against pressure is an encouraging sign for Houston Texans fans.
Nick Foles: The forgotten man with the Los Angeles Rams averaged a league-worst 4.35 yards per dropback against the blitz last season. He completed just 50.5 percent of his passes (third worst) and averaged 4.86 YPA (last) against pressure. Something tells me he won't have enough attempts to qualify for this list next offseason.
Sam Bradford: What’s interesting about Bradford is defenses had very little success sacking him when they blitzed. Opponents brought him down 2.1 percent of the time when sending pressure, the second-lowest number among all quarterbacks. The problem? Although Bradford got rid of the ball, he rarely did anything positive with it. Bradford completed 50 percent of his passes (second worst) against pressure. His 65.9 passer rating was ahead of only Foles, and Bradford’s 28.0 QBR ranked 32nd.
Colin Kaepernick: He was the only quarterback in the NFL to complete fewer than 50 percent of his attempts (48.1) against the blitz last season. Kaepernick’s legs weren’t much of a weapon against pressure either. He averaged 4.89 yards per dropback when blitzed, fourth worst. Interestingly enough, Blaine Gabbert averaged 8.24, second best.
Eli Manning: No quarterback was blitzed less frequently last season. Opponents sent pressure at Manning on just 16.3 percent of his dropbacks, but on those occasions, he performed poorly. Manning’s 67.7 passer rating against the blitz was ahead of only Foles and Bradford. In the past three years, Manning’s passer rating against the blitz (82.0) ranks in the bottom five league-wide.
Joe Flacco: It seems to have flown under the radar, but Flacco and the Ravens’ offense have struggled against the blitz. His QBR of 37.0 ranked 30th last season. Since 2013, Flacco has been one of the more mistake-prone QBs against the blitz, with the second-highest interception rate (3.4 percent) in the NFL.