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The top Jimmy Garoppolo takeaways from PFF’s QB Annual

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Pro Football Focus put together an exhaustive review of quarterback performance in 2018. What were the main takeaways from Jimmy Garoppolo’s

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NFL: DEC 31 49ers at Rams

Pro Football Focus dropped a gold mine in our laps a couple weeks ago. Their 2018 Quarterback Annual is a veritable treasure trove of quarterback analysis. While there are several interesting tidbits about quarterback performance, including a chapter on each of the 40 quarterbacks that played significant snaps in 2018, I zoomed right to anything that had to do with Jimmy Garoppolo. Sure, Garoppolo finished 10th overall in PFF’s grading, but further drill downs into the data reveal just how impressive Jimmy GQ played in 2017.

Before you dig in to the takeaways, I highly recommend reading Steve Palozzolo and Sam Monson’s fantastic primer detailing the mechanics PFF’s grading system as it pertains to quarterbacks. It’s one of the most clear explanations of what goes into grading and it defines terms used throughout the recap.

Jimmy Garoppolo excels on difficult NFL throws

Using a combination of route depth, time to throw, situation, PFF grade, and expected points, PFF was able to separate throws into two different categories. The more difficult category, NFL Throws, are throws that generate more expected points while simultaneously not generating a high number of positive grades. Non-NFL Throws include the Brian Hoyer special: a quick out route on 3rd and 20 from your own 25 yard line.

Jimmy Garoppolo finished the year graded 3rd on NFL Throws in 2018. The other quarterbacks that round out the top 5 of this category? In other they were: Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, and Russell Wilson. Garoppolo excelled in 2017 not just because of scheme, but because he demonstrated the ability to successfully complete some of the most difficult, high value, throws in the NFL. And he graded as well as other clear franchise quarterbacks.

On Non-NFL Throws, Garoppolo finished at the top of a category that includes DeShaun Watson, Tyrod Taylor, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees. Whether you judge him by difficult or pedestrian throws, Jimmy Garoppolo excelled at them all.

Garoppolo doesn’t make often make risky plays

Garoppolo had one of the lowest percentage of Turnover Worthy Plays (TWP) in 2017. His 2.11% TWP percentage ranked him 6th in the NFL. Even under pressure, when most quarterbacks fall apart, his TWP percentage was just 3.2 percent. This was nearly a full 2 percentage points lower than the NFL average.

What would really vault Garoppolo into the stratosphere would be a high percentage of Big Time Throws (BTT). He ranked 38th out of 40 quarterbacks in this category, which was easily his lowest rank on any of the key categories PFF identified.

Garoppolo’s performance on deep throws pushed his BTT percentage down quite a bit. The average NFL quarterback nets a BTT on 24.5% of their deep throws. But Garoppolo finished with a rate of just 6.3%. In 2017 Garoppolo did most of his damage in the intermediate range, but hopefully a full offseason paired with Shanahan means more fine tuning of the the deep-passing arsenal to Garoppolo’s strengths.

Signs point to Garoppolo continuing high-level play in 2018

The most skeptical of fans will undeniably think about the long list of quarterbacks to start hot, then eventually regress. 49ers fans know all too well how quickly an emerging star can tumble into irrelevance.

Perhaps the most important tidbit from the QB Annual was separating the statistics that merely describe what happened and those that are predictive indicators of future success.

We’ve found that a quarterback’s accuracy (as measured by either completion or adjusted completion percentage) is the most stable metric, and this metric is the most stable when the quarterback is throwing from a clean pocket.

Performance when a quarterback is using play action or under pressure, is more volatile year to year. It describes what happened more so than predicts future performance. If you remove items outside the quarterback’s control, like how a defense reacts to play action, you see a distilled version performance a quarterback can sustain.

Across stats that are more likely to predict success, Jimmy Garoppolo exhibited high-level performance.

Garoppolo’s 67.4 completion percentage, the most stable metric year-to-year, would have placed him 4th in the NFL behind Drew Brees, Case Keenum, and Alex Smith. While he didn’t have enough snaps to qualify this year his career completion percentage is 67.3, a stable measure across Garoppolo’s nascent career.

When kept clean, Garoppolo’s quarterback rating is 110.1, 10 points higher than Matt Ryan and 5 points higher than Tom Brady. As if that wasn’t enough, PFF graded Jimmy GQ as the 4th best quarterback from a clean pocket.

If you isolate Jimmy’s performance and exclude play action, the 49ers quarterback numbers remain impressive. Despite throwing 4 interceptions while not using play action, two of those were pretty fluky. Removing plays where a defender ripped the ball out of a receiver’s hands paints an even brighter picture.

Jimmy Garoppolo’s Play Action Performance Splits

Situation Drop Backs Attempts Completions Touchdowns Interceptions Completion % Yards YPA QB Rating
Situation Drop Backs Attempts Completions Touchdowns Interceptions Completion % Yards YPA QB Rating
Play Action 46 44 29 2 1 65.9 409 9.3 101.4
No Play Action 144 134 91 5 4 67.9 1151 8.6 94.5

The QB Annual doesn’t give us performance splits for situations where a quarterback is not pressured and does not rely on play action. Given that this is the situation that can help us best predict how a quarterback will perform in upcoming seasons I thought I’d reach out to out friends at PFF and get those splits. If you’ve made it this far you won’t be surprised by the outcome.

Garoppolo with no pressure and no play action

Attempts Completions Completion % Yards Yards per Attempt TDs INTs QB Rating
Attempts Completions Completion % Yards Yards per Attempt TDs INTs QB Rating
89 65 73.0% 831 9.3 4 0 116.8
Pro Football Focus

If this is the kind of performance that Garoppolo is likely to sustain moving forward, I think the 49ers will be riding higher than Philly fans on Crisco poles after an NFC Championship win.

I’d highly recommend snagging a copy of the QB annual. All PFF Edge members can download it for free. If you’re not an Edge member you can sign up using this link and get $10 off. You’ll get the Annual and all the other benefits, including PFF grades for every player.