How did Joe Flacco fare when pressured?

For Thursday’s newspaper, I began a three-part series called “Tweaking the Ravens” and I started by tweaking the offense. A big chunk of the analysis piece (you can find it here) was about the importance of continuity and stability for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who took a step forward in the team’s recent postseason run.

That’s not to say Flacco is without flaws. He can improve in many areas, which says a lot about his potential. Based on some numbers crunched by Pro Football Focus, a site that got a lot of traction among NFL writers this past year, one area he and new quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell can focus on is how Flacco fares when pressured.

This past season, Flacco was sacked 31 times on 177 pressured dropbacks, according to PFF. That 17.5 sack percentage was 14th in the NFL. Not bad. (His 11 fumbles, though, were fourth most among quarterbacks).

According to PFF, which evaluated and graded every play, Flacco threw three touchdowns when pressured and six interceptions. That 1:2 touchdown/interception ratio was tied for 26th with Colt McCoy of the Browns. Flacco’s 44.3 completion percentage on the 140 attempts in which he was pressured ranked 19th in the NFL.

Finally, the folks at PFF graded the quarterbacks (with at least 200 dropbacks from center) when they were under pressure (with zero being the average mark for a quarterback in any situation). Eli Manning of the Giants, Drew Brees of the Saints, Cam Newton of the Panthers, Aaron Rogers of the Packers, Tom Brady of the Patriots, and Jay Cutler of the Bears were the quarterbacks with a plus pressure grade. Manning led the pack with a 9.8 grade.

Flacco was given a -20.7, which was 33rd. The only starter with a lesser mark was Mark Sanchez of the Jets with a -25.1. For an in-depth explanation of the grading, here is the PFF article.

So what are we to make of these numbers? I’ll let you decide. Feel free to leave your take in the comments section below.

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