How Does Joe Flacco Perform When Pressured?


Joe Flacco showed just how good he could be during his run to becoming Super Bowl XLVII MVP.

A big part of Flacco's success was the protection from the offensive line, which was bolstered by re-inserting veteran Bryant McKinnie at left tackle. The group kept Flacco upright and he responded by tying an NFL record with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in the playoffs.

But how does Flacco perform when defensive pressure is in his face?

The statistical analysis website Pro Football Focus (PFF) examined every one of Flacco’s snaps throughout his NFL career, grading each play when Flacco faced pressure.

The analysis shows that Flacco fared well by interior pressure, but struggled against pressure from the left side and unblocked pressure.

Flacco was best at avoiding interior pressure allowed by the center or guards.  He earned a positive grade in those situations and had a quarterback rating of 85.6 when interior pressure was allowed.

Flacco struggled, however, when facing unblocked pass rushers or pressure allowed by the left tackle position. Flacco scored the second-lowest in the NFL (-15.6) against free rushers, according to the website.

"Perhaps it's partially the offensive system focused on throwing the ball down the field or maybe it's Flacco being handcuffed with regard to pre-snap audibles in his early years, but he's certainly not at his best in the quick game throwing hot routes against unblocked blitzers," wrote Steve Palazzolo.

Pro Football Focus graded the players based on every snap where they faced pressure, giving them a positive or negative grade between 2.0 and -2.0. The scores of every snap are then totaled together to get the overall PFF grade.

The grades from PFF measure the player's decision making and execution in each situation, rather than looking at the resulting statistics of the plays. 

While Flacco struggled in some pressure situations, the website had him graded (95.0) as the 10th best quarterback in the NFL when facing no pass rush. Flacco had a 94.2 quarterback rating when he had a clean pocket to throw.

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