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Offensive Linemen and Helping Up Their Quarterbacks: A Look at Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, and Ryan Tannehill

Luck and Satele

When we ran the post earlier this week about the rate at which the Washington lineman were helping Robert Griffin III after sacks this year, a very legitimate question arose. How frequently do teammates help their quarterbacks anyway?

For Robert Griffin, that piece noted that he was helped up four times last year in just the games after he returned from his original knee injury in the Baltimore game, after missing the week 15 game at Cleveland.

For the 2012 season, Robert Griffin III was assisted by a teammate after a sack on 15 out of 30 that were able to be viewed completely (three were unable to be determined because no view showed what happened after the sack).

Rather than randomly bounce around and pick out some sacks, we also viewed every sack in 2013 by three other quarterbacks in the 2012 draft class: Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, and Ryan Tannehill. Luck and Wilson are often compared with Griffin because all three were in the Rookie of the Year race a year ago. Tannehill was the other quarterback drafted in the top ten a year ago, and has been sacked a league high 44 times in 2013.

ANDREW LUCK (assisted on 8 of 20 sacks (40%), with 2 others that were undetermined, and 2 official sacks where he did not go to the ground)

Luck has been sacked less than the others. He has a tendency to be able to anticipate pressure and at least be moving back toward the line on a good number of his sacks. He also gets up pretty quickly (much quicker than Griffin). He tends to get helped up only when on his back in the pocket, which makes sense.

This one was not categorized as helping. Richardson runs toward Luck after he has dived forward, but Luck gets up on his own, and instead Richardson just gives him a pat.

Andrew Luck sacked, Trent Richardson runs over to help

On the other hand, this one was. Hugh Thornton reaches down and grabs Luck’s hand as seen on the coach’s film, but we don’t see him actually pull him to his feet as the shot ends. The plays categorized as undetermined involved the quarterback still on the ground and others around, but no one grabbing for a quarterback, when the shot ended.

Andrew Luck and

RUSSELL WILSON (assisted on 12 of 29 sacks (41%))

Wilson was assisted on 12 of his sacks. Here is the most borderline case, which we categorized as helping up. Breno Giacomini comes through and rolls Russell Wilson over as he is covering the ball. We cannot tell whether he also pulled him up, but based on coming through, bending down, and grabbing at his jersey, we put it in the help group.

Russell Wilson sacked by Rams, helped up by J.R. Sweezy

RYAN TANNEHILL (assisted on 13 of 37 (35%), with 4 where he did not go to the ground (out of bounds or strip sacks), and 3 others that were undetermined)

Tannehill has gone down a lot. He has also run out of bounds on sacks, which is, as an aside, something that he might want to work on. The undetermined ones are due to large pileups where the camera leaves after the play is done. There were lots of pileups on Tannehill sacks.

Without trying to spark any kind of controversy on a holiday Friday, we do have game data and tried to note who aided. Through seven games, Tannehill was helped up 12 times in 27 cases that could be categorized. Over the last four games, it is 1 of 10.

Part of this is simply that Jonathan Martin stands out as one that would generally come to his quarterback after realizing there was a sack (I have five attributed to Martin, with two others where he came to help but Tannehill got up on his own). This is not typical, as there is a lot going on around the linemen (often they are hitting the ground too), and usually, the help is offered if they happen to be right in the area. Martin often came from further away. Here’s one example of Martin, seeing the referee coming in, sprinting over to help instead.

Ryan Tannehill sacked by Colts, helped up by Jonathan Martin

OVERALL

Teammates don’t help the quarterback up every time up. They do help him up sometimes. It rarely happens on fumbles, which makes sense. The ball is live and attention is elsewhere. In plenty of cases, the quarterback bounces up quickly. In some, he is lying down while others seem to not notice. Help rarely happens on rollouts or plays that break the pocket. It is relatively infrequent when the quarterback falls forward into space or dives toward the line (they often just push themselves to their feet). In the pocket, on the back, it happens more often that not.

In looking at Griffin last year, and the three other quarterbacks (Luck, Tannehill, and Wilson) this year, we observed assistance in getting up after a sack from a teammate 41% of the time (48 of 116).

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