Protecting the quarterback being a top priority for teams seems as obvious as it gets. A clean pocket leads to open throwing windows, which should result in chunks of yards gained in the passing game.
However, it turns out a clean pocket also impacts the all-important turnover battle. Pro Football Focus has tracked league interception rates when quarterbacks are under pressure and when they are kept clean, and this is what it looks like:
How much pressure affects interception rates pic.twitter.com/3SGcy3Sxk8
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) July 20, 2017
There are obvious correlations here with quarterbacks under pressure throwing interceptions at a higher rate than when they are not under stress in the pocket. But I definitely didn’t expect interception rates to be trending downward across the board. While a 3.2 percent interception rate is high, that number has been trimmed in each year since 2013 when the INT% for quarterbacks under pressure was 3.9 percent.
Interception rates for quarterbacks operating in clean pockets has been on a steady decline since 2013, too. Further, 2016 marked the first time interception percentages when throwing in clean pockets dipped below two percent since PFF has tracked this particular stat.
To put these numbers in perspective, quarterbacks throw like Tom Brady (career 1.8 INT%) when given a clean pocket. But when put under pressure, they’re slinging the pigskin like Brock Osweiler (career 3.2 INT%).
As for the Bears, we’ve already discussed how much better Mike Glennon is when kept clean as opposed to when pressured. Having a top-5 offensive line entering the season gives Glennon, who owns a 2.4 INT% in his career, a better protection group than what he had in Tampa Bay, even with questionable starters at tackle. If Glennon stays true to form and play up to his stat line, he should perform better than he did with the Buccaneers.
And that would be welcomed by all interested parties.