Pro Football Focus has recently been running a great series of articles showing a variety of ways to judge the performance of a quarterback in the NFL. PFF's most recent piece, looking at how quarterbacks perform when pressured, provides -- for me -- a fascinating window into the performance of Eli Manning and the importance of the Giants' offensive line.
Before we even look at the PFF data we know a few things. We know Eli led the league with 25 interceptions a season ago. We know he is largely a stationary target in the pocket, not one of those quarterbacks who will make many good things happen with his legs. We know Manning sometimes will lean on his back foot against a heavy rush and chuck the ball into coverage downfield. We know, even though he is a veteran quarterback, he will make mistakes like last season's left-handed toss that was intercepted when he is forced to start running around.
PFF's research into pressure situations backs a lot of the things we subjectively think we know about the Giants' franchise quarterback.
PFF rated 34 quarterbacks who dropped back to pass at least 200 times in 2010. Here's a quick look at their findings.
- Percentage of Drop Backs Under Pressure: Eli was 21st in this category, meaning that the Giants generally did a good job giving him opportunities to throw. Something we knew, but this quantifies it. As you will see from other numbers, keeping him out of situations where he has to run around is crucial.
- Completion and Sack Percentages When Pressured: Eli is only sacked 9.25 percent of the time when pressured, and that number is both good and bad. We all know that over the past two seasons, Manning has made plenty of throws he should not have made, and the following numbers back that up. He completed just 44.74 percent of passes under pressure, an astounding drop of 25.29 percent from when he is not pressured. Overall, Manning is 24th among the 34 quarterbacks in this area.
- Touchdown to Interception Ratio When Pressured: Manning ranks 15th in the league in this category with a ratio of 1.11. If it makes you feel better, Peyton Manning was 22nd in the league in this department.
Taking all of its calculations into account, where does Manning rank overall against pressure? Graded against the other 33 quarterbacks studied, Eli ranked 14th, which might not be considered awful considering his league-leading interception total. Manning's overall grade was a +4.0 against pressure.
The top three quarterbacks? Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay), 19.0; Peyton Manning (Indianapolis), 16.0; Matt Ryan (Atlanta), 13.5.
For me, this doesn't provide a whole lot of intormation I didn't think I already knew. It does bring some quantifiable data to the discussion, though.