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Quarterbacks Creating Their Own Sacks: Where Does Colt McCoy Rank?

In a post over at NFL FanHouse, J.J. Cooper took a look at quarterbacks who hold onto the ball too long and, in essence, "create their own sack." Cooper's criteria did not include total sacks, but rather the number of sacks a quarterback had in which he held the ball for over three seconds. I think there is certainly a lot of debate that can be made as to whether or not that criteria is valid, but Cooper explained his reasoning:

I chose three seconds as the demarcation line because it's a pretty fair cutoff point for where a sack can no longer be blamed on a quarterback's blockers. The median sack time in the NFL last year was 2.7 seconds, just as it was in 2009. Obviously a line should be able to hold a three-man rush back longer than a eight-man all-out blitz, but for practical purposes, three seconds is the point where a quarterback should generally know that he has to get rid of the ball.

The article claims that Joe Flacco, not Ben Roethlisberger, is "king" of holding onto the football for too long. When I saw the statistics though, something jumped out at me right away: these numbers weren't adjusted for playing time. Flacco played the entire season, while Roethlisberger missed four games. Colt McCoy was ranked No. 12 on the original list, but I knew that would change with adjusted stats.

I picked one quarterback from each team and adjusted everyone's stats for a 16-game season.


Player > 3 seconds Games Played Adjusted > 3 seconds
Ben Roethlisberger 20 12 26.67
Michael Vick 19 12 25.33
Joe Flacco 25 16 25.00
Colt McCoy 11 8 22.00
Jay Cutler 19 15 20.27
Jason Campbell 16 13 19.69
Kyle Orton 15 13 18.46
Matt Cassell 14 15 14.93
Mark Sanchez 14 16 14.00
Brett Favre 11 13 13.54
Philip Rivers 13 16 13.00
Vince Young 7 9 12.44
Sam Bradford 12 16 12.00
Alex Smith 8 11 11.64
Donovan McNabb 9 13 11.08
Aaron Rodgers 10 15 10.67
Derek Anderson 8 12 10.67
Matt Hasselbeck 9 14 10.29
Josh Freeman 10 16 10.00
David Garrard 8 14 9.14
Matt Schaub 9 16 9.00
Ryan Fitzpatrick 7 13 8.62
Tom Brady 8 16 8.00
Tony Romo 3 6 8.00
Shaun Hill 5 11 7.27
Matt Ryan 7 16 7.00
Jimmy Clausen 5 13 6.15
Chad Henne 5 15 5.33
Drew Brees 5 16 5.00
Carson Palmer 4 16 4.00
Eli Manning 1 16 1.00
Peyton Manning 1 16 1.00


Three of the top four quarterbacks on the list reside in the AFC North. "Creating your own sack" is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it often means you have a quarterback who is mobile and likes to improvise. Sometimes that can lead to game-changing plays, as we have seen all-too-often in the past from Roethlisberger.

It's amazing to see both of the Manning brothers at the bottom of the list. It's no wonder these guys, particularly Peyton, never get injured. I think the ideal spot to strive toward is the middle of the list, right where Aaron Rodgers is. He is mobile, but he also has the threat of getting the ball out so quickly that I'm sure the number of dropbacks he has beyond three seconds is reduced significantly.