Panthers Pass Protection Better Than You Probably Think

Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE

Pro Football Focus has a new stat they have published that measures how much time on average a QB has to pass the ball, how much time it usually takes for a QB to get sacked and how often the QB gets rid of the ball in quick fashion. Read on to see how the Panthers' offensive line and QB Cam Newton performed in these new stats.

The overall analysis consists of four stats that need to be analyzed as a group to get the full picture. Let's start with average time given to pass the ball. The measurement starts when the ball is snapped and ends when the ball is either thrown or the ball can no longer be thrown. This is a direct measure of the offensive lines ability to pass block. The Panthers ranked a surprising #3 overall in the NFL:

Rank Name Team Drop backs To Throw
1 Russell Wilson SEA 274 3.14
2 Michael Vick PHI 366 3.12
3 Cam Newton CAR 266 3.04
4 Robert Griffin III WAS 309 3.01
5 Alex D. Smith SF 244 2.9

Notice the top 5 is populated with 4 mobile QBs who are good at moving in the pocket and creating more time. In Newton's case though its more attributable to the o-line versus Newton's ability to avoid the rush by moving around in the pocket. Newton still has some work to do in adjusting to a pocket versus simply cutting and running and then throwing if he can. Still this is a good stat for the Panthers regardless of the cause.

The next stat is how much time elapsed on average before the QB got pressure or was sacked. Here the Panthers were middle of the pack at #15:

Rank Name Team Drop backs To Sack
1 Russell Wilson SEA 274 4.05
2 Alex D. Smith SF 244 4.03
3 Michael Vick PHI 366 4.02
4 Jay Cutler CHI 278 4.01
5 Josh Freeman TB 274 3.87
15 Cam Newton CAR 266 3.27

So it is essentially a measurement made on the sack and QB hurry plays. If you follow the link at the top you will see why Kevin Kolb, #32 on that list has been getting pounded. He has on average only 2.3 seconds before he is getting pressure or sacked.

The next stat reveals what we all know Cam Newton needs to work on and it reveals it in a big way. The benchmark for making a pass in 'quick fashion' was set by PFF at 2.5 seconds. This next stat is percentage metric that measures what percentage of passes the QB threw in 2.5 seconds or less. Newton came in dead last, or first if you reverse the metric and show the percentage of passes taking longer than 2.5 secs (PFF shows it both ways):

Rank Name Team Drop backs % Att. Comp. Comp % Sk NFL QB Rating
1 Cam Newton CAR 172 64.7 140 79 56.4 20 89.1
2 Michael Vick PHI 223 60.9 167 85 50.9 22 66.5
3 Andrew Luck IND 220 59.3 182 102 56 19 76.7
4 Russell Wilson SEA 151 55.1 113 65 57.5 13 85.9
5 Josh Freeman TB 144 52.6 124 68 54.8 10 80.1

The best was Matt Hasselbeck at only 36% of his passes taking longer than 2.5 seconds. Now this 3rd one you can explain with a number of factors. A WC style offense has more short passes that take less time to develop. Inversely an offense that throws deep more often, like the Panthers offense, is obviously going to have more passes not executing in the 2.5 second threshold. So this stat is not necessarily a bad thing but I think in the Panthers case we can point to Newton taking too long to go through his reads.

The 4th and final stat is QB rating on passes throw either under 2.5 seconds and those taking longer to pull the trigger on. When I look at where Newton falls on this one it totally matches up with my perception. See below as this one needs some explaining:

Name Team Dropbacks Comp% SK QB Rating
Tom Brady NE 18.2 19.8 -11 -6.1
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF 20.2 18.3 -8 39.6
Michael Vick PHI -21.8 17.2 -17 26
Drew Brees NO -1.4 17 -14 17.1
Matthew Stafford DET 11.6 16.3 -12 5.6
Cam Newton CAR -29.4 2.1 -20 -27.7

This set of metrics indicates that when Newton throws the pass within 2.5 seconds he completes the pass 2.1% more often than when he takes longer than 2 seconds to throw it. That essentially says that unlike most QBs Newton does not become more accurate the quicker he gets the ball out.

The QB Rating stat shows that while Newton's percent pass completion is barely affected by how long it takes him to pass the ball his QB takes a huge hit, to the tune of 27.7 points when he takes longer than 2.5 seconds to throw the ball. I see this metric being directly affected by Newton's inconsistent ability to throw check down passes after going through his progressions.

So do you think I am reading these results correctly? Does it make you feel a little better about our offensive line? It does for me!

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