- Starting quarterbacks dropped back on average just 17 times this preseason
- Last year, quarterbacks dropped back an average of 38 times in week one alone
- There are 15 new play caller/quarterback combinations this year
It seems like starting quarterbacks across the league didn’t play much this preseason.
And the numbers back that up.
This preseason, four quarterbacks didn’t take a single snap (Aaron Rodgers, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Philip Rivers) and six more dropped back to pass 10 or fewer times (Mitchell Trubisky, Derek Carr, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Deshaun Watson).
That’s roughly a third of the NFL’s Week 1 starters.
Several of these quarterbacks have a history of injury and are playing with coordinators they are familiar with from last season (Wentz, Newton, and Watson), so holding them back isn’t a surprise. But there are certain quarterbacks where the decision is a bit more interesting, such as Rodgers (playing in a new offense this season).
On average, starting quarterbacks dropped back to pass a total of 17 times in the entirety of the preseason. Most quarterbacks drop back to pass double that in a single game. In fact, in last year’s Week 1 games, the average NFL quarterback dropped back to pass over 38 times.
Which means next week, when Week 1 begins, quarterbacks will be dropping back almost 2.25 time more often in that single game than they did the entire preseason.
That also means there are a lot of passing plays and a lot of offense that these quarterbacks didn’t run in the preseason. To veterans, that’s not likely to a big deal.
But what makes Week 1 even more interesting this year is there are a whopping 15 play-callers in their first full year with their quarterback.
Some of these play-callers seemed to have a more settled view with their offense. Look at Adam Gase, for example. He gave Sam Darnold 45 snaps and used only seven different lineups, the lowest rate of lineup change in the NFL. It helped that the Jets used a lot of 11 personnel, but even so, the offense seems very set and congruent.
On the other hand, Joe Flacco took 28 snaps but Rich Scangarello used a total of 20 different lineup combinations. Much of that was testing out different heavier personnel, but it’s clear Denver is still toying around with a lot before Week 1.
With 15 new play-callers in the NFL this season, it will be fascinating to see how they start Week 1. They are in their first year of a relationship with their quarterback, most of which played far less than starting QBs played in prior preseasons.
Those play-callers who planned things out the best and are the most prepared will likely have the best results Week 1. And it raises the question: will defenses be further ahead of offenses than they typically are in Week 1 because of the lack of familiarity we’re uniquely experiencing in 2019 with so many new play callers and quarterbacks?