Editor's Note: Bumped from the FanPosts. Nice work, J2. - BG
Part of being a defensive coordinator in the NFL is exposing an opposing team's offensive weaknesses. What teams struggle when you stop their run, or what teams struggle more when you take their slot receiver away? This varies team to team, and always will.
One of the things that remains somewhat consistent is that when you get pressure on opposing quarterbacks, things tend to go poorly for the offense. It's the job of the offensive coordinator to make sure there are routes built into the route tree to give the receiver an escape if pressure is coming, or to have maximum protection. The quarterback must also be able to make plays under pressure, and obviously some quarterbacks are better than others at this.
So how did Ryan Fitzpatrick do under pressure for the 2011 NFL season? According to Pro Football Focus he was o.k. to mediocre to bad. Not all that surprising depending on what you're looking at as we all know he's a streaky gunslinger. So let's take a look at some stats that PFF threw together.
Pressure Into Stats
One of the areas that Fitz was relatively good at was pressure into sacks. Out of 135 pressured drop backs he only took 21 sacks, good for 8th in the NFL. He's a pretty mobile QB so we should expect this as he's picked up decent yardage from time to time when he's had to.
After watching him extensively I don't think he bails on plays and runs too frequently so really this is a good asset for Fitz. We all know that when a QB steps out of the pass rush and picks up a 1st down that kills the defense so if I was Chan or David Lee I wouldn't touch a thing in this department.
TD to INT Ratio Under Pressure
Here's where things get a little ugly.
In 2011 Fitz had 2 TD's and 8 INT's when under pressure which is good for 32 in the NFL. Only 3 QBs (Grossman, T. Jackson, Palmer) had more INT's than Fitz under pressure. It's been analyzed that a lot of Fitz's picks come when he throws off of his back foot so hopefully David Lee can help coach in him in correcting that but defensive coordinators will know this to be an issue and I expect Buffalo's offense to see more pressure in the form of blitzes next season. This will be a combination of probably having a rookie LT and a QB that doesn't fair well under pressure.
It's up to Chan and Fitz to make sure they have adequate safe routes built in to the route trees. The chore will be to keep DBs from jumping routes when they send extra defenders in the pass rush.
Completion Percentage Under Pressure
Fitz's completion percentage under pressure is 43.6%, good for 21st in the NFL. Is this surprising? Not really - he's not throwing to the best WR's in the game and he's had accuracy issues under pressure pretty much his entire career.
Again, it's up to Fitz and Lee to fix Fitz's mechanics and specifically those mechanics when he's under pressure (as much as you can anyways).
So what conclusions can we draw from this? Well we know that Fitz throws a lot of picks when under pressure and he doesn't have the greatest accuracy under pressure when compared to his peers. Defensive coordinators know this and see that as one of Buffalo's offensive weaknesses. As a result they will attack Buffalo's offense with a lot of pressure considering the previous mentioned possible rookie LT and Fitz's struggles under pressure.
Fortunately Buffalo has a variety of screens built into their offense that can help negate some of that pressure. Fred Jackson is one of the best screen RBs I have ever seen play so his presence will be huge for our offense going forward (duh).
The other piece that Buffalo is attempting to fix is Fitz's mechanics by bringing David Lee in who is a well respected QB mechanics coach. I'm not sure what tangible evidence we will see as a result of Lee but I will remain cautiously optimistic about this and "hope for the best".
Ryan Fitzpatrick recently had a sit down conversation with Chris Brown of Buffalobills.com. During that conversation Fitz mentioned that with a better defense the QB can be more reserved. It's tough to say what this means but it's good that Fitzpatrick is already feeling like he won't have to carry the team which should help him under pressure as well. Instead of forcing plays he can take a sack which (depending on game situations) is typically better than an interception. His sacks under pressure might go up but i'd rather have his sacks go up if his interceptions go down at the same relative rate. That's typically a better trade off as the turnover battle determines a lot of games in the NFL.