Friday, September 16, 2011
Deep passes in focus heading into Week 2
By Mike Sando ESPN.com
A few things I found interesting when sifting through ESPN Stats & Information breakdowns heading into Week 2:
Tony Romo comes to Candlestick Park after attacking aggressively and successfully well downfield against the New York Jets. Shoring up deep pass coverage has been a priority for the San Francisco 49ers. Romo figures to test the 49ers in this area. He completed 4 of 6 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown on attempts traveling more than 20 yards downfield through the air against the Jets. Last week, Seattle missed a couple chances to strike deep against the 49ers, with Tarvaris Jackson overthrowing an open Golden Tate on one memorable play.
Washington's Rex Grossman shined when the Giants sent four or fewer pass-rushers in Week 1.
Cam Newton was even better than Romo on these long throws. He completed 6 of 7 attempts for 219 yards and two scores against Arizona on passes traveling more than 20 yards downfield through the air. The Cardinals' Week 2 opposing quarterback, Rex Grossman, completed 2 of 6 such throws for 67 yards.
Grossman shredded the New York Giants when facing four or fewer pass-rushers, completing 16 of 23 attempts for 225 yards and two touchdowns. Grossman was less productive against added pressure, completing 5 of 11 for 80 yards. Down and distance can come into play in these situations.
Grossman and Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb each completed 1 of 4 passes when Week 1 opponents rushed with a defensive back. Aaron Rodgers completed 9 of 10 for 145 yards and a score in these situations. Tom Brady completed 5 of 7 for 40 yards and a score. Newton completed 5 of 8 for 112 yards and a touchdown.
The 49ers' Alex Smith ranked second to Buffalo's Ryan Fitzpatrick in QBR on play-action passes in Week 1, completing 6 of 7 for 69 yards. The Seahawks were obviously most concerned with stopping the run.
Grossman's passes traveled 14.5 yards in the air on average in Week 1, farthest in the league. Newton (12.6), Brady (12.6), Michael Vick (10.4) and Ben Roethlisberger (10.0) were next. Bradford's passes traveled shorter on average (5.8 yards) than passes for all but three quarterbacks. Smith's were next-shortest at 6.3 yards. This gives us an idea which teams were trying to strike downfield.
NFL quarterbacks completed 36 of 73 goal-to-go passes for 26 touchdowns and one interception. Smith was 0 of 3 on these passes. Kolb was 3 of 4. Smith had a higher QBR on these plays, 26.1 to 1.5. Why? Smith wasn't to blame for the goal-to-go pass Frank Gore dropped. Kolb's completions netted four yards and no scores. Bradford had two goal-to-go attempts, completing none.
The Cardinals ranked fifth in yards after the catch with 175 in Week 1. The 49ers ranked 31st with 47. They ranked 32nd in average yards after the catch (3.1 per reception).
Enjoy your Friday. I'm putting together a mailbag for Saturday morning before heading to Washington for the Cardinals' game against the Redskins, followed by the Rams-Giants game in New Jersey on Monday night.