PFF: High ceilings in short passes for Flacco

Rob Carr

Our friends at PFF are breaking down quarterback-play again. See how Joe Flacco fared in the "screens" portion of Palazzolo's analysis.

If you didn't know, Steve Palazzolo is putting our league's quarterbacks under the microscope and dissecting each of their performances under specified situations. Today Palazzolo investigated the screen pass, and how often respective QBs dumped the ball off to their final check-down.

Before we rummage through the stats and tell Ravens fans why Joe Flacco's future is brighter than before, keep in mind these words from the researcher:

The screen game is an important part of NFL offenses and often an efficient way of moving the ball against the right defensive call. As for the quarterbacks, mastering the screen is certainly something that takes time, but it’s a skill we expect an NFL quarterback to be able to execute. It’s for this reason that the grades are relatively low and they may match up with the stats even less than some of the other situations we’ve covered.

Total yardage, namely yards after the catch, are much more a function of the receiver, his blocking, the defense, and the defensive play call, rather than anything special the quarterback has done to execute the play.

WR/TE Screens

Flacco, along with Drew BreesBrandon Weeden, E.J. Manuel, Kellen Clemens, and Mike Glennon, were left off this list for throwing wide receiver screens on less than two percent of their dropbacks.

To somwehat measure Flacco's potential this upcoming season, we checked where Case Keenum and/or Matt Schaub ranked. (Schaub wasn't on this list.)

Case_keenum_medium

In the eight games that Keenum started, 54.2 percent of his throws were completed and his seven yards-per-attempt are better that most. 10 of his 137 completions were screens to a tight end/wide receiver. This is an attractive sign for Flacco, who has two lethal (and reliable) targets in Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels this season. Daniels entered the league in 2006, when the Gary Kubiak era began in Houston, so every ounce of his experience is invaluable to this offense.

RB Screens

Flacco fell to the bottom on this list. While 4.6 yards-per-attempt isn't something to cry about, his success rate was a low 9.1 percent, second best to Eli Manning's 6.7.

Good news:

Matt_schaub_medium

Again, Matt Schaub's numbers flourished under Kubiak's system, dumping passes to Ben Tate and Arian Foster in 2013. Expect Ray Rice, Justin Forsett and Bernard Pierce to see a sharp increase in their reception totals in 2014.

Non-Screens

First off, this is what a non-screen is, according to Palazzolo.

The non-screen list is a good way to separate the passers from the "easy" screen yardage they accumulate throughout the season.

Brees and Flacco both dropped back a league-high 646 times, but Brees was spotted at No. 2 (25.2 PFF score) in the ranks as opposed to Flacco, who was in a familiar spot, third from the bottom (-17.9).

Matt_and_case_medium

It was obviously a down year for Flacco so the overall stats for Flacco come with somewhat of an asterisk. With a lack of protection and a running game that spent more time in the backfield than moving forward, Flacco had to do far too much on his own leading to a statistically down year for the Ravens quarterback. As you can see Case Keenum fared slightly better in Kubiak's system just being more efficient with the football, but with the physical skill set that Flacco brings to the table, he should do significantly better.

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