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PFF: Bengals Quarterback Carson Palmer Ranks Among Best Quarterbacks When Under Pressure

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Pro Football Focus recently analyzed all NFL quarterbacks abilities to throw the ball under pressure. The really did their homework too. They went through and found out how many drop backs each quarterback had overall and how many of those drop backs were under pressure. Then they found the completion percentage of the drop backs in which they were under pressure, and then they found out how many touchdowns versus interceptions those quarterbacks threw versus touchdowns.

Their research turned up some surprising results, at least they did for a Bengals fan.

The first shocker was this: Carson Palmer was not nearly under pressure as much as most other NFL quarterbacks were in 2010. In fact, out of 34 quarterbacks, Palmer was ranked all the way down at No. 30 when it came to how often he was under pressure. 

The guys at PFF found that Palmer dropped back 620 to pass in the 2010 NFL season and that he was only under pressure 28.06 percent of the time. Yes, that's over a quarter of the time and yes, that sounds like a lot. But, it's not nearly as much as the top guy on the list, Jay Cutler, who, in his 565 drop backs was pressured 41.42 percent of the time. 

Rank Player Team Drop backs % Pressured
1 Jay Cutler CHI 565 41.42%
2 Josh Freeman TB 544 40.99%
3 Michael Vick PHI 510 40.78%
4 Donovan McNabb WAS 525 40.38%
5 Jason Campbell OAK 388 39.69%
6 Derek Anderson ARZ 355 38.87%
7 David Garrard JAX 421 37.77%
8 Alex D. Smith SF 375 36.00%
9 Matt Cassel KC 519 35.65%
10 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 546 35.53%
11 Philip Rivers SD 591 34.86%
12 Jimmy Clausen CAR 344 34.59%
13 Sam Bradford SL 640 34.06%
14 Brett Favre MIN 383 33.68%
15 Kerry Collins TEN 292 33.56%
16 Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF 494 33.20%
17 Joe Flacco BLT 618 33.01%
18 Kevin Kolb PHI 211 32.70%
19 Kyle Orton DEN 545 31.56%
20 Matt Ryan ATL 650 31.23%
21 Eli Manning NYG 565 30.62%
22 Matt Schaub HST 611 30.28%
23 Tom Brady NE 572 29.90%
24 Chad Henne MIA 540 29.63%
25 Tony Romo DAL 223 29.60%
26 Colt McCoy CLV 261 29.50%
27 Shaun Hill DET 448 29.02%
28 Aaron Rodgers GB 695 28.49%
29 Drew Brees NO 747 28.11%
30 Carson Palmer CIN 620 28.06%
31 Mark Sanchez NYJ 640 27.66%
32 Peyton Manning IND 724 25.55%
33 Matt Hasselbeck SEA 566 24.91%
34 Jon Kitna DAL 357 24.65%

Next, the fellas at PFF found how many times each quarterback was sacked while under pressure, what their completion percentage under pressure was and how that completion percentage differed from their normal completion percentage. Once again, Carson Palmer's numbers were very solid. He had the eighth best completion percentage under pressure in the NFL in 2010 at 52.78 percent. That's 11.85 points lower than his average completion percentage when he's not under pressure. 

The guys that beat Palmer in this area included Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, but Palmer was considered better Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers.

Rank Player Team Sack % w / Pressure Comp.% w / Pressure Change in Comp. % w / Pressure
1 Kevin Kolb PHI 23.19% 59.18% -2.24%
2 Jon Kitna DAL 23.86% 59.02% -8.30%
3 Drew Brees NO 12.38% 55.74% -16.22%
4 Peyton Manning IND 9.19% 54.49% -15.45%
5 Tony Romo DAL 10.61% 54.39% -20.61%
6 Matt Hasselbeck SEA 22.70% 53.70% -7.69%
7 Tom Brady NE 17.54% 53.24% -16.86%
8 Carson Palmer CIN 14.94% 52.78% -11.85%
9 Philip Rivers SD 18.45% 52.76% -18.93%
10 Matt Ryan ATL 13.79% 52.66% -14.16%
11 Jay Cutler CHI 23.93% 52.20% -10.97%
12 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 21.13% 51.75% -13.53%
13 Jason Campbell OAK 21.43% 50.91% -12.10%
14 Josh Freeman TB 12.56% 50.90% -16.20%
15 David Garrard JAX 20.13% 50.43% -20.48%
16 Aaron Rodgers GB 19.19% 49.30% -22.10%
17 Kyle Orton DEN 19.77% 49.22% -12.94%
18 Shaun Hill DET 13.08% 47.62% -18.94%
19 Brett Favre MIN 16.28% 47.17% -19.10%
20 Joe Flacco BLT 24.02% 46.94% -21.53%
21 Derek Anderson ARZ 18.12% 46.85% -7.32%
22 Kerry Collins TEN 13.27% 45.88% -16.81%
23 Matt Schaub HST 17.30% 45.10% -25.21%
24 Eli Manning NYG 9.25% 44.74% -25.29%
25 Michael Vick PHI 17.79% 44.36% -26.18%
26 Matt Cassel KC 15.14% 43.36% -20.95%
27 Sam Bradford SL 15.14% 43.35% -23.55%
28 Donovan McNabb WAS 17.45% 41.76% -25.78%
29 Colt McCoy CLV 29.87% 41.67% -24.43%
30 Chad Henne MIA 18.75% 41.53% -26.30%
31 Alex D. Smith SF 18.52% 41.51% -26.29%
32 Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF 14.02% 39.20% -25.99%
33 Jimmy Clausen CAR 27.73% 39.02% -18.32%
34 Mark Sanchez NYJ 16.95% 35.46% -26.52%

Next, PFF found how many touchdowns versus interceptions each quarterback through when they were being pressured. This wasn't Palmer's strong suit in 2010. He threw interceptions 3.45 percent of the time he was pressured versus throwing touchdowns, which he did 2.87 percent of the time. This earned him a ranking in the bottom half of quarterbacks at No. 20.

The two quarterbacks with the best ratios of touchdowns to interceptions when under pressure in 2010 were Matt Ryan and Tom Brady. The worst two were Derek Anderson and Donovan McNabb.

Rank Player Team TD % w / Pressure INT % w / Pressure TD:INT w / Pressure
1 Matt Ryan ATL 4.93% 0.49% 10.00
2 Tom Brady NE 3.51% 0.58% 6.00
3 Josh Freeman TB 4.48% 1.35% 3.33
4 Kevin Kolb PHI 7.25% 2.90% 2.50
5 Tony Romo DAL 3.03% 1.52% 2.00
6 Jon Kitna DAL 2.27% 1.14% 2.00
7 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 3.61% 2.06% 1.75
8 Alex D. Smith SF 3.70% 2.22% 1.67
9 Matt Cassel KC 3.78% 2.70% 1.40
10 Joe Flacco BLT 2.45% 1.96% 1.25
11 Mark Sanchez NYJ 3.39% 2.82% 1.20
12 Michael Vick PHI 2.88% 2.40% 1.20
13 Philip Rivers SD 2.91% 2.43% 1.20
14 David Garrard JAX 3.77% 3.14% 1.20
15 Eli Manning NYG 5.78% 5.20% 1.11
16 Kerry Collins TEN 2.04% 2.04% 1.00
17 Matt Schaub HST 2.70% 2.70% 1.00
18 Jimmy Clausen CAR 0.84% 0.84% 1.00
19 Colt McCoy CLV 3.90% 3.90% 1.00
20 Carson Palmer CIN 2.87% 3.45% 0.83
21 Chad Henne MIA 2.50% 3.13% 0.80
22 Peyton Manning IND 3.24% 4.32% 0.75
23 Matt Hasselbeck SEA 2.13% 2.84% 0.75
24 Aaron Rodgers GB 2.53% 3.54% 0.71
25 Jay Cutler CHI 2.14% 2.99% 0.71
26 Drew Brees NO 2.86% 4.29% 0.67
27 Sam Bradford SL 1.83% 2.75% 0.67
28 Kyle Orton DEN 2.33% 3.49% 0.67
29 Jason Campbell OAK 1.95% 3.90% 0.50
30 Brett Favre MIN 3.10% 6.98% 0.44
31 Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF 1.22% 3.05% 0.40
32 Shaun Hill DET 0.77% 2.31% 0.33
33 Derek Anderson ARZ 0.72% 2.17% 0.33
34 Donovan McNabb WAS 0.94% 3.30% 0.29

Finally, PFF combined all of the preceding information to grade each quarterback at their ability to pass while under pressure. According to them, Carson Palmer was ranked as the 10th best quarterback under pressure in the NFL in 2010, earning a grade of 7.5, and he's in some very good company.

The best was Super Bowl winning quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Then Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethilsberger, Josh Freeman, Philip Rivers, Michael Vick, Shaun Hill, Tom Brady and Palmer rounded out the top 10. 

Rank Player Team QB Rating w / Pressure Grade w / Pressure
1 Aaron Rodgers GB 60.9 19.0
2 Peyton Manning IND 67.4 16.0
3 Matt Ryan ATL 86.5 13.5
4 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 81.1 11.5
5 Josh Freeman TB 79.4 11.0
6 Philip Rivers SD 74.3 11.0
7 Michael Vick PHI 65.3 8.5
8 Shaun Hill DET 52.0 8.0
9 Tom Brady NE 84.5 7.5
10 Carson Palmer CIN 63.9 7.5
11 Colt McCoy CLV 53.8 7.0
12 Tony Romo DAL 80.6 7.0
13 Jay Cutler CHI 68.9 7.0
14 Eli Manning NYG 61.0 4.5
15 David Garrard JAX 67.2 4.5
16 Drew Brees NO 64.3 3.0
17 Jason Campbell OAK 60.6 1.5
18 Matt Cassel KC 63.2 0.5
19 Matt Schaub HST 58.7 0.5
20 Kyle Orton DEN 62.4 0.5
21 Alex D. Smith SF 66.1 0.0
22 Jon Kitna DAL 78.7 0.0
23 Jimmy Clausen CAR 50.3 -1.0
24 Kevin Kolb PHI 91.4 -1.5
25 Kerry Collins TEN 61.8 -1.5
26 Sam Bradford SL 51.0 -1.5
27 Derek Anderson ARZ 56.1 -1.5
28 Joe Flacco BLT 64.0 -2.5
29 Matt Hasselbeck SEA 67.7 -4.0
30 Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF 44.0 -4.5
31 Chad Henne MIA 48.8 -5.5
32 Mark Sanchez NYJ 51.9 -6.5
33 Brett Favre MIN 43.2 -7.5
34 Donovan McNabb WAS 46.7 -10.0

A defense that can get to the quarterback early and often has the power to take a team to the playoffs. A quarterback that can stand tall and deliver accurate passes while under pressure is a valuable thing in the NFL. Pro Football Focus has shown us that Palmer's ability to handle himself under pressure makes him valuable. Now, if there was just somebody willing to trade him......