There’s one area of Dak Prescott’s game that’s improved tremendously and deserves our recognition. And that area, Dallas Cowboys fans, is his sack rate
Sack rate is measurement traditionally attributed to the performance of the offensive line. If your quarterback gets sacked a lot, we often assume there’s a problem with the offensive line. If your quarterback rarely gets sacked, we praise the offensive line. It makes sense. And we like stuff that makes sense.
But recently we’ve found that sacks are a quarterback stat. For as counter intuitive as that sounds we’ve found that a QB’s personal sack rate often stays the same regardless of the O-line personnel in front of him. That’s right. Changing the men up front rarely change the rate in which that specific QB is sacked. And when a QB switches teams he usually takes his sack rate with him.
Interesting, right? That’s because it’s the QB who decides where to stand in the pocket, how long to stand in the pocket, and how to avoid would-be tacklers.
This isn’t to say the O-line is without blame in all matters “sacks”. We see breakdowns all the time. But a sack that occurs beyond the 2.5 second mark is a QB issue more than an O-line issue.
Jason Lisk over at The Big Lead has been looking at this for a while. He found sack rate is one of the most consistent stats that a QB carries with him when he switches teams. And sack rate is one of the least stable when a team suddenly changes QBs. The O-line personnel is almost irrelevant to sack rate.
Geoff Schwartz at SB Nation talked about sacks being a QB stat a few years back as well. Coming from an O-line background, he took offense to always getting the blame when his signal-caller ate turf. He pointed out the importance of consistency in drop backs.
You see, since each QB and each offense is a little different in drop back depth, offensive linemen customize their games to fit the man in which they’re protecting.
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For instance, a 5-step drop may require the QB to drop back 10 yards and step up to 9. If the QB drops back 10.5 yards and only steps up to 9.5, he’s in prime position to be strip sacked. Keep in mind, offensive tackles have their back to the QB. They are banking on each drop back to be exactly on target every time. If it’s not, they have no idea until it’s too late.
The only way to definitively attribute blame for a sack is to watch the film.
That’s why Pro Football Focus’ findings hold a little more weight than analytics. They watch the film, monitor the 2.5 second clock, and look for consistency. They said roughly half of Dak’s sacks last season were his fault – not his O-lines’ fault.
Even if EVERY SINGLE ONE of Dak’s sacks this season were somehow his fault (but they aren’t), 1.25 sacks per game are markedly better than last season’s 3.5 sacks per game.
Last season Dak Prescott was sacked a whopping 56 times! At the midpoint this year he’s been sacked just 10 times. Is Travis Frederick the reason for the improvement? He certainly helps but this is more about Dak Prescott than it is about Frederick.
Dak is showing better awareness in the pocket, more consistency in his drops, and a more compressed release. He’s vastly improved an area of his game that needed major improvement. And now he’s one of the best in the NFL.
- Published on 11/08/2019 at 12:01 PM
- Last updated at 11/08/2019 at 08:18 AM