Study: Pressure Makes A World Of Difference

In our mailbag yesterday, reader falconsaftey43 posed an interesting question to me. How much does pressure effect quarterbacks? Inherently, we know that it should but what does the data tell us? Since it’s the last week of the offseason and I need something to write about, I’m expanding the idea. So thank you falcon. There is no check but my gratitude is in the mail.

We can go through last year’s defensive charting to sorta through the data. Here is how the opposing QB performed with and without pressure.

2018 CMP % YPA TDs INTs
QBs Under Pressure 48.6% 4.8 4 4
QBs Without Pressure 66.4% 7.4 22 4

A stark contrast. Under pressure, a QBs completion percentage drops by nearly 18%, their YPA by almost three yards, with a 1:1 touchdown to interception ratio. None of this is a shock, it merely backs up the thought we all had, pressure is good for a defense, but it helps put the numbers in context.

We know the strength of this defense is their pass rush. No team has more sacks over the last two seasons than the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 108. Even players like Bud Dupree, who have disappointed with middling sack numbers, have good pressure figures. Dupree had just six fewer pressures than TJ Watt, 39 to 33.

Though it may feel like the Steelers pass rush is at its peak given how they’ve finished in consective seasons, there’s still meat on the bone. Ideally, the coverage has improved this year with the addition of Steven Nelson, getting a healthy Mike Hilton back, and the maturation of guys like Terrell Edmunds and Sean Davis. Better coverage generally means more time for the pass rush to get him, leading to additional pressure.

Watt is poised to have a 15 sack campaign if he plays the way he did over the final six weeks of last season. And there’s three off-ball linebackers capable of getting after the quarterback in Mark Barron, Vince Williams, and Devin Bush. Last year, the team really only had Williams as a true threat. It’ll only allow the defense to be more flexible and offer more looks and ways to create confusion and chaos.

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