QBs and pressure: Why Jimmy Garoppolo is in limbo

In his eight-year NFL career, Jimmy Garoppolo has averaged 8.4 yards per pass attempt. That’s a better rate than Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or any other quarterback who started a game in 2021. So why is Garoppolo so unwanted, both in San Francisco and anywhere else? One reason (of several): his performance on the field has consistently nosedived when opposing pass-rushers have gotten pressure on him.

It’s time for another look at 2021 data from Football Outsiders Almanac 2022 (now available!). Today we’re going to look at quarterbacks and pressure — who faced pressure most often, who succeeded or failed from a clean pocket and who played best and worst under pressure.

Let’s take Garoppolo, for example. He was pressured on 23.4% of his dropbacks, the eighth-lowest rate among 34 qualifying quarterbacks in 2021. So he was passing from a clean pocket about three-quarters of the time, and on those plays he was fantastic — his 64.7% DVOA was third-best behind Aaron Rodgers and Kirk Cousins. When pressure did arrive, however, Garoppolo’s DVOA fell all the way to -95.4%, well below the league average of -74.0%. That’s a drop of 160.1% in DVOA between pressured and non-pressured plays. Only Rodgers was more impacted by pressure, and considering his unpressured DVOA was a bewildering 81.1%, he could better afford that decline. (Note that these are team offense DVOAs, not individual passing DVOAs, and they include not only pass plays but also quarterback scrambles.)

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