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In April, I looked at how each defense fared at recording sacks. Today, we flip things around and look at it from the offensive perspective.

In 2014, there were 17,879 pass attempts in the NFL, and another 1,212 dropbacks that ended up as quarterback sacks, translating to a sack rate of 6.35%.

Peyton Manning offenses are always excellent, and they’re always particularly excellent at avoiding sacks. In 2014, the Broncos had 624 dropbacks; given the league average, we would “expect” that Denver’s quarterbacks would have been sacked 39.6 times. In reality, Manning was sacked just 17 times, of 22.6 fewer sacks than “expected” last season. Only one other team, the Joe Flacco and the Ravens at 17.4, had 15 fewer sacks than expectation.

The worst team, by over 10 expected sacks, was Jacksonville. The Jaguars had 628 dropbacks and were sacked an incredible 71 times. Using the league average as our guide, we would have expected Blake Bortles and the Jaguars quarterbacks to have been sacked 38.4 times, which means the Jaguars were sacked 31.1 more times than “expectation.”

The table below shows how each offense fared in this metric in 2014:

RkTmAttSacksSk RtExp SkDiff

As before, I went ahead and calculated this statistic for each of the last ten seasons. I’ve presented the data in the form of a heat map, where blue means “good” — i.e., that offenses allowed fewer sacks than expected — and red is “bad”, indicating that a team allowed more sacks than average. You can see that Manning’s teams are always in the blue: take a look at Denver from 2012 to 2014 and the Colts column from 2002 to 2010. That’s a lot of blue. Tom Brady is also very good at avoiding sacks, and you’ll see that New England’s column is all blue except for 2008, the year Matt Cassel was quarterback. On the flip side are the 49ers, who have been below-average in offensive sack rate for 11 consecutive seasons. If you click on the image below, you can see a magnified version.

off sk 2002 2014

Since 2002, the Colts have taken 205 fewer sacks than expected. And since 2012, Broncos quarterbacks have been sacked 65 fewer times than expected. Meanwhile, since 2004, 49ers quarterbacks have been sacked an incredible 142 more times than expected. That data is presented in the table below, which shows each team’s sacks above/below expectation on a cumulative basis going back to 2002.

off sk cumulative 2002 2014

Finally, let’s present that last table in rank form. Remember, you can click on each picture to enlarge the graph. Since 2009, no team has taken as many sacks as the Jaguars, but if you go back farther, it’s San Francisco as the most sacked team. The Broncos are the least sacked team relative to expectation over the last 3 years, while the Saints take the title if you go back to any year between 2005 and 2011 (Drew Brees is also very good at avoiding sacks). Go back any farther, though, and Manning’s Colts (with an assist from Andrew Luck) regain the crown.

off sk cumulative 2002 2014 rks

  • Richie

    In 2005 Gus Frerotte quarterbacked the Dolphins to their outlier sack season with a +14. Then in 2008 he quarterbacked the Vikings to one of their worst seasons with a -14. But the Vikings have been one of the worst sack offenses during this period.

    I wonder why he was able to change the sack avoidance fortunes for the Dolphins but not the Vikings. Was it just the difference of being 37 years old instead of 34?

    • Good question. What’s really weird is not only was his sack rate bad, but so was his INT rate. And he went 8-3! That puts him on this interesting list: http://pfref.com/tiny/a2jdH

    • Michael

      You should look at Jay Cutler’s numbers. +25 in 2008, then he went +1, -24, -16, -11