Panic in the pocket

New QBR data shows which quarterbacks can stare down pressure

Originally Published: December 2, 2013
By Peter Keating | ESPN The Magazine

NumbersJason Schneider for ESPNAccording to the data, some QBs freeze in the pocket like a deer in headlights.

YOU KNOW WHAT they say about great quarterbacks in today's pass-happy NFL: You gotta get to them. In the run-up to Week 11, I stopped counting how many times I heard that the Chiefs' best chance to beat the Broncos was to knock Peyton Manning off-balance. (So much for that.) Conversely, when pundits discuss not-so-great QBs, they often point to pressure: It's hard to play well when you're on your back, but give Sam Bradford (or Josh Freeman or Blaine Gabbert) some time behind a decent line, the thinking goes, and he could help his team win.

Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.