In what now appears to be a yearly offseason feature, Pro Football Focus is running its series on quarterbacks and their stats in different situations. The most recent is about the blitz.
Last year, I ran the same series here, focusing only on Carson Palmer, as he was the only quarterback to take a snap in 2013. This time we have both Palmer and backup Drew Stanton who got significant playing time.
How did they do?
First of all, opposing defenses liked blitzing the Cardinals.
The league average against all QBs was to blitz 29.9 percent of all dropbacks. Both Palmer and Stanton saw the blitz more often. Palmer was blitzed on 32.2 percent of his dropbacks, while Stanton saw it more at 33.1 percent of his dropbacks. Only seven other QBs in the league faced a higher rate of blitzes.
If we look at overall effectiveness, PFF used their grades to see how each QB fared against the blitz. Perhaps it isn't the best way to look at it, but it is at least an overall picture. With the league average normed at 0.0, a positive grade is better than average and a negative grade obviously is not as good.
Palmer was a +1.2 against the blitz, the lowest positive QB grade. Stanton was a -4.0.
Now for some of the raw numbers.
Palmer was blitzed on 77 of his 237 dropbacks in 2014. He completed 49 of 69 passes for 532 yards (7.7 yards per attempt), four touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked six times, or 7.7 percent of those dropbacks. His completion percentage was 71 percent and his passer rating was 106.7.
When he was not blitzed, he completed 60 percent of his passes for almost 1100 yards (7.1 yards per attempt), seven scores and two picks. His rating was 91.3. He was sacked three times, or 1.9 percent of his dropbacks.
Palmer was blitzed more in 2014 than in 2013. He faced it on 29.6 percent of his dropbacks two seasons ago.
Stanton was blitzed on 86 of his 262 dropbacks. He was only sacked four times, but he was not as effective as Palmer. He completed 50.6 percent of his passes (40/79) for 450 yards and one touchdown. He was not picked off when blitzed, but his passer rating was only 72.2. He averaged 5.7 yards per attempt.
When not blitzed, he completed 57.1 percent of his passes for 1261 yards (7.8 yards per attempt), six scores and five picks, good for a passer rating of 81.8.
It shouldn't be any surprise Palmer was better. He was having a fine season before his knee injury ended his season. Palmer was very good against the blitz. Stanton, on the other hand, was better when not blitzed, although he was more prone to turning the ball over. Four of his five interceptions on the season were when there was no pressure.
Assuming an effective return by Palmer, if he stays healthy, the numbers in 2014 tell us he will continue to play smart football, both when blitzed and when not, and he will beat the blitz when he sees it.