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Old 02-26-2011, 12:49 PM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Who Should the Pittsburgh Steelers Blame for All These Sacks?

Who Should the Pittsburgh Steelers Blame for All These Sacks?
180579_10100158364857408_5709033_54137389_5404223_ n_tiny by John Stephens on Feb 26, 2011 12:25 PM EST
http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com...ll-these-sacks

Another 40+ sack season, puts the Steelers at 5 straight seasons of surpassing that mark. Who should we blame for all these sacks? Do we blame the Offensive Line for not being able to block long enough for the QB to get the ball out? Or do we blame Ben Roethlisberger holding on to the ball past 3 seconds and making the OL's job nearly impossible? It is a difficult question to answer, because no one has really given us any in depth break down of league wide sack data. Fortunately for us, NFL Fanhouse just filled that void, at least partially.

My assumption was that 3.5 seconds was the time you should expect an offensive lineman to hold his block. That time should give the QB enough time to make at least 3-4 reads. When it is up, the QB's internal alarm should go off and he should flee or throw the ball away. If he gets sacked holding on to the ball the sack becomes his own fault. Fanhouse decided to go with 3 seconds, which probably is based off stronger analysis than my perceived assumption. They found that the mean sack time was 2.7 seconds, which apparently was exactly the same in 2009. Also, they note that dependent variables like the amount of rushers were ignored, believing those factors average out.

Anyway, they went and reviewed every single sack in the 2010 season armed with a stop watch. They tallied up the sacks in two columns: "Over 3 seconds" and "3 Seconds or Less". Joe Flacco tops the list of "slow sacks" with 25, followed by Ben (20), Cutler (19), Vick (19), and (Campbell 16). A great analysis, however something important is not acknowledged. Not every QB played 16 games and not every QB drops back as frequently. Our very own QB missed the first quarter of the year, which probably puts his "slow sacks" per game at 1.67 compared to Flacco's 1.56.

For my break down, I am going to average out the sack totals according to how many times the QBs dropped back (pass attempts + times sacked). That way, we can more accurately compare the numbers. The table is initially organized by "slow sacks" per drop back, but you can click on the column headers to organize the table differently. I excluded all QBs who were sacked less than 10 times, except for all of the Steelers QBs.

Quarterback Team Dropbacks Total Sack % More Than 3 Sec Per DP Less Than 3 Sec Per DP
Byron Leftwich Steelers 9 2 22.22 1 11.11 1 11.11
Dennis Dixon Steelers 37 5 13.51 3 8.11 2 5.41
Ben Roethlisberger Steelers 421 32 7.6 20 4.75 12 2.85
Joe Flacco Ravens 529 40 7.56 25 4.73 15 2.84
Michael Vick Eagles 404 32 7.92 19 4.7 13 3.22
Colt McCoy Browns 245 23 9.39 11 4.49 12 4.9
Jason Campbell Raiders 363 34 9.37 16 4.41 18 4.96
Troy Smith 49ers 163 18 11.04 7 4.29 11 6.75
Vince Young Titans 169 13 7.69 7 4.14 6 3.55
Jay Cutler Bears 484 52 10.74 19 3.93 33 6.82
Charlie Batch Steelers 53 4 7.55 2 3.77 2 3.77
Kevin Kolb Eagles 205 16 7.8 7 3.41 9 4.39
Max Hall Cardinals 91 13 14.29 3 3.3 10 10.99
Matt Cassell Chiefs 476 26 5.46 14 2.94 12 2.52
Brett Favre Vikings 380 22 5.79 11 2.89 11 2.89
Kyle Orton Broncos 532 34 6.39 15 2.82 19 3.57
Tyler Thigpen Dolphins 72 10 13.89 2 2.78 8 11.11
Trent Edwards Jaguars 112 11 9.82 3 2.68 8 7.14
Mark Sanchez Jets 534 27 5.06 14 2.62 13 2.43
Derek Anderson Cardinals 353 26 7.37 8 2.27 18 5.1
Phillip Rivers Chargers 579 38 6.56 13 2.25 25 4.32
Alex Smith 49ers 367 25 6.81 8 2.18 17 4.63
Josh Freeman Buccaneers 493 19 3.85 10 2.03 9 1.83
David Garrard Jaguars 398 32 8.04 8 2.01 24 6.03
Aaron Rodgers Packers 506 31 6.13 10 1.98 21 4.15
Sam Bradford Rams 625 35 5.6 12 1.92 23 3.68
Matt Hasselback Seahawks 473 29 6.13 9 1.9 20 4.23
Donovan McNabb Redskins 509 37 7.27 9 1.77 28 5.5
Tom Brady Patriots 517 25 4.84 8 1.55 17 3.29
Ryan Fitzpatrick Bills 464 23 4.96 7 1.51 16 3.45
Jimmy Claussen Panthers 333 34 10.21 5 1.5 29 8.71
Matt Schaub Texans 606 32 5.28 9 1.49 23 3.8
Jon Kitna Cowboys 338 20 5.92 5 1.48 15 4.44
Matt Moore Panthers 155 12 7.74 2 1.29 10 6.45
Bruce Gradkowski Raiders 167 10 5.99 2 1.2 8 4.79
Matt Ryan Falcons 594 23 3.87 7 1.18 16 2.69
Shaun Hill Lions 433 17 3.93 5 1.15 12 2.77
Chad Henne Dolphins 518 28 5.41 5 0.97 23 4.44
Drew Brees Saints 684 26 3.8 5 0.73 21 3.07
Carson Palmer Bengals 612 26 4.25 4 0.65 22 3.59
Kerry Collins Titans 291 13 4.47 1 0.34 12 4.12
Eli Manning Giants 555 16 2.88 1 0.18 15 2.7
Peyton Manning Colts 694 15 2.16 1 0.14 14 2.02


First, it should be noted that Dixon and Lefty's numbers are skewed because of a small sample size. However, I wanted to show them since they are our QBs. Moving on, these numbers are pretty telling. Ben has the highest "slow sack" per drop back percentage in the entire league, whereas his "fast sack" number is near the bottom of the league. That means, not only are the majority of Ben's sacks coming from holding on to the ball too long, but it is happening considerably more than average (4.75% compared to league average of approximately 2.69%).

Oddly enough, Joe Flacco's percentages are almost mirror images of Ben's. Very high "slow sack" % and a really low "fast sack" %. Despite having plenty of receiving talent, Flacco seems to be holding on to the ball longer than he should. Another side note, check out how low the "slow sack" numbers are on the Manning brothers. That is pretty incredible, especially for Eli who is not known for having the same quick release as Peyton.

Back on topic, the verdict seems pretty clear from this analysis. The high sack count is resulting from Ben holding on to the ball too long. Maybe, just maybe, our offensive line is not as bad in pass protection as we perceived. The problem is that I do not believe there is a cure for this problem. Ben's game is designed around him extending the play and he is not going to change that. Sometimes it results in a sack, but sometimes it results in a 40+ yard bomb. We will all have to continue to keep our heart medicine nearby while watching the Steelers games.
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Old 02-26-2011, 12:55 PM   #2
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Default Re: Who Should the Pittsburgh Steelers Blame for All These Sacks?

A lot of the sacks are directly due to Ben holding it for a long time, BUT,
it's not the only reason. That excuse does not hold water when you see
defenders immediately on Ben like white on rice in less than 2 seconds.
And, although we have seen that less often, it still happens. When I watch
teams like Indy and NE, you just see less of that kind of thing - so let's not
totally blame Ben. Also, that is Ben's game. How many times have we seen
him make a big play by taking extra long back there? It's a double edge
sword: sometimes it works out great with big plays, other times I end up
screaming as he takes a sack because he is just taking forever back there.
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Old 02-26-2011, 01:31 PM   #3
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Default Re: Who Should the Pittsburgh Steelers Blame for All These Sacks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thumper View Post
A lot of the sacks are directly due to Ben holding it for a long time, BUT,
it's not the only reason. That excuse does not hold water when you see
defenders immediately on Ben like white on rice in less than 2 seconds.
And, although we have seen that less often, it still happens. When I watch
teams like Indy and NE, you just see less of that kind of thing - so let's not
totally blame Ben. Also, that is Ben's game. How many times have we seen
him make a big play by taking extra long back there? It's a double edge
sword: sometimes it works out great with big plays, other times I end up
screaming as he takes a sack because he is just taking forever back there.

Did you actually read the article?
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Old 02-26-2011, 01:37 PM   #4
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Default Re: Who Should the Pittsburgh Steelers Blame for All These Sacks?

tom brady also holds on to the ball for a long time. the difference is he can sit back there and read the newspaper and drink coffee without getting touched.
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Old 02-26-2011, 02:24 PM   #5
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Default Re: Who Should the Pittsburgh Steelers Blame for All These Sacks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fire Arians View Post
tom brady also holds on to the ball for a long time. the difference is he can sit back there and read the newspaper and drink coffee without getting touched.
Brady has q quick release and usually always has that ball out fast. look at his sacks, he has a bunch of quick ones in under 3 seconds but only 8 from him holding the ball more then 3 seconds

ben definatly holds the ball to long and if he could learn to read the field better he could be a dangerous qb. with that said he will never change and he will have a ton of sacks every season. i dont care if you put ben on the Patriots, he will have the same sack numbers. its the type of qb he is, you get the good with the bad
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Old 02-26-2011, 03:12 PM   #6
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Default Re: Who Should the Pittsburgh Steelers Blame for All These Sacks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by theplatypus View Post
Did you actually read the article?
Lies, damn lies and stats.

Just because someone throws some mumbo jumbo
around doesn't prove anything. Bottom line, our OL
is still below average. And, Ben holds the ball longer,
more often, than anyone else. I don't know what the
point was with all the fuzzy math. The two things I
asserted are true.
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Old 02-26-2011, 03:13 PM   #7
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Default Re: Who Should the Pittsburgh Steelers Blame for All These Sacks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fire Arians View Post
tom brady also holds on to the ball for a long time. the difference is he can sit back there and read the newspaper and drink coffee without getting touched.
BINGO, except last game vs. Jets and the Super Bowl
vs. the Giants.
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Old 02-26-2011, 03:57 PM   #8
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Default Re: Who Should the Pittsburgh Steelers Blame for All These Sacks?

This article clearly illustrates many of the problems with trying to analyze any aspect of the game just going by the stats. Here are some other factors that the article fails to mention:

1) Small sample size for Lefty and Dixon? Sure, but the fact remains that the other two QBs who spent any appreciable time behind center for the Steelers also showed similar numbers. That tells me it has more to do with offensive scheme or something specific to our offense as a whole, more than just Ben holding the ball too long.

2) Around the same time Ben came back, we lost Max Starks and ended up with a no-name journeyman in his place at LT, who, to put it nicely, STUNK IT UP. You can talk about how 3 seconds is the norm, but there isn't much a QB can do when a guy like Terrell Suggs is in his face, literally, as soon as the ball is snapped on ALMOST EVERY PLAY.

3) This article does not examine what part OFFENSIVE SCHEME plays in generating these numbers.

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have quick releases (under 3 seconds), because that is how their respective offensive schemes work. Brady's game hinges specifically upon quick-hitting timing routes. That is why he normally has one of the higest completion percentages in the league, but one of the lowest yards per attempt of any elite QBs. The Steelers' offense uses very little 3-step drop type passing plays-- our receivers all run 15 yard routes on every play because we are into the vertical passing game. One can argue whether we are using an optimal scheme on offense, based on the personnel (if your pass protection is shakey to begin with, maybe a vertical passing game is not best, instead, some sort of west-coast dink-n-dunk would be better). But the fact remains, despite all the sacks and wasted passing attempts, Ben usually ranks in the top 3 as far as yards per attempt.

4) The fact remains, when we had a Probowl offensive line in 2004 (Alan Faneca in his prime, Marvel Smith in his prime, Kendall Simmons in his prime, Jeff Hartings at center), Ben only took 23 sacks. Granted, that was Ben's rookie season, and he did not have as many attempts as he does now, but that alone cannot account for a 120% increase in sacks per season....
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Old 02-26-2011, 04:00 PM   #9
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Default Re: Who Should the Pittsburgh Steelers Blame for All These Sacks?

Our sack troubles are a combination of a mediocre offensive line, coupled with a boneheaded O-cordinator who keeps trying to put together a vertical passing offense when the protection is not good enough, coupled with a QB who also like to go deep and holds the ball too long as a result.

Trying to find the dividing line where those three factors cross using mathematics like the above article is futile at best, IMHO.
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Old 02-26-2011, 05:12 PM   #10
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Default Re: Who Should the Pittsburgh Steelers Blame for All These Sacks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pete74 View Post
Brady has q quick release and usually always has that ball out fast. look at his sacks, he has a bunch of quick ones in under 3 seconds but only 8 from him holding the ball more then 3 seconds

ben definatly holds the ball to long and if he could learn to read the field better he could be a dangerous qb. with that said he will never change and he will have a ton of sacks every season. i dont care if you put ben on the Patriots, he will have the same sack numbers. its the type of qb he is, you get the good with the bad
The difference between Brady and Ben is.........

.Brady stays way cooler......He lets the line kinda take charge and the fire.....While Ben is way charged up and on fire most of the time...The line has a hard time keeping up with him........

Ben plays a step or 2 faster and in front of his line.....While Brady plays a step or 2 slower and behind his line...........

That is a huge difference...............

Go Figure with Manning.....That dude is so charged up that he is barking every play...

But Manning is a dog.........While Ben And Tom are cats......I guess that why they say the expression..."he's a cool cat"..............
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