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Performing Under Pressure

Chicago Bears v New York Jets Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

To be a good NFL quarterback, you need to be able to play under pressure to an extent. If you look through some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, you’ll see a consistent theme, an ability to complete passes when under pressure.

Josh Allen has completed 51.7% of passes when pressures and thrown 8 touchdowns.
Patrick Mahomes has completed 44.2% of passes when pressured, again 8 touchdowns.
Geno Smith has completed 59.1% of passes when pressured, with 5 touchdowns
Dak Prescott is at 54.2% with 4 touchdowns
Joe Burrow is at 54.4% with 6 touchdowns

How Mike White dealt with pressure was one of my big questions after he took over from Zach Wilson. The sample size is too small to really read a lot into it right now, but the early signs are encouraging.

Over the last two weeks, PFF rate White as the 7th best QB in the league in handling pressure, giving him a grade of 74.4. Among quarterbacks with at least 10 pressure dropbacks he is completing 53.8% of pressured passes for the 12th-best mark in football, that’s just behind Josh Allen at 54.5%.

Another key metric that I look at is what percentage of those pressures leads to sacks, again the early signs are good with White. Through the two weeks that he’s been the starting Jets QB, 12.5% of all pressures have led to sacks, that’s the 8th-best mark in the league and only 3 QB’s have less than the 2 sacks recorded against White and the Jets. He’s also only thrown one ball away. Add all of that together and you see a QB who has shown signs of being effective against pressure, it’s still very early and he’ll be tested this week against Buffalo.

This is a big area where Zach struggled. His 26.7% completion against pressure this year puts him dead last in the league alongside P.J Walker and Malike Willis, and trailing the likes of Bryce Perkins (33.3%), Mitchell Trubisky (34.4%), Kyle Allen (36.8%) and Skylar Thompson (38.5%). All 5 of Zach’s interceptions came when pressured and his 12.9% turnover-worthy play rate was also last in the league.

If Zach hopes to regain his starting spot with the Jets and carve our a future in the league, improving his performance against pressure is going to be vital. At BYU he often had a very clean pocket with the Cougars possessing one of the best offensive lines in the country, last year was a baptism by fire with the Jets, but this year he was pressured around the league average in terms of his dropbacks and still struggled.

Alongside mechanics, performance under pressure would be my big focus if I were the Jets.