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* Our Offensive Line is Not Responsible for Alex Smith's High Sack Rate

Footballoutsiders.com did an analysis or 'short sacks' vs 'long sacks'. 'short sacks' are those that occur in under 2.4 seconds, while long sacks are those that are 3+ seconds. Based on the data, only 2 of Smith's 12 sacks were short sacks - short sacks are usually the result of missed blocks or a blown hot read. That's 13th Best in the NFL - a bit above average. Kevin Kolb is demolishing short sack record books with a short sack % of 6.1%.

With long sacks, however, Alex Smith is 31st in the NFL with a long sack percentage of 4.7%. Mobile quarterbacks dominate the bottom of the long sack percentage list (Vick, Ponder, Cutler, Smith, Rodgers, Cam Newton, Dalton) - they get 'sacked' running for yardage. The players surrounding Smith are more athletic than he is (not saying smith is un-athletic), with the Exception of Dalton. Everyone knows that Dalton is holding the ball waaay too long this year, but let's look at smith.

Long sacks are either the result of (1) a mobile QB attempting to run, (2) great coverage, (3) a botched play-call, or (4) holding the ball to long. With the 49ers, we can screen out #1 and #3 -- Smith seems to pick up positive yardage when he runs and play-calls go in smoothly. #2 can also be eliminated -- Alex has no problem chucking the ball out of bounds if the coverage is perfect...he's always done that. So that leaves holding the ball too long.

But I think this is a good thing - it means we're not getting beat up front much, and our WRs aren't getting shut down (like last year). Alex is taking too long to process plays, but its something he's getting better at, and something I expect him to continually improve at as he gets more time in this system and with this group of receivers.

...Maybe he has too many weapons, which causes him to be undecided over the best choice? I don't know...

http://footballoutsiders.com/under-pressure/2012/under-pressure-long-and-short-sacks
This is pretty funny to bring this up after last week's game. 12 sacks in five games! Highest rated QB in the NFL and he's tied for 12th most sacks with Brady, Brees, and Ryan...pretty good company. Many have already commented on his ability to get the ball out quickly this year so when he holds the ball it is likely a conscious decision...as Harbaugh says "Sometimes a sack is the best decision."

Think I'll wait til the end of the year to worry about him holding the ball too long. I like stats though so thanks for the info.
Originally posted by dtg_9er:
This is pretty funny to bring this up after last week's game. 12 sacks in five games! Highest rated QB in the NFL and he's tied for 12th most sacks with Brady, Brees, and Ryan...pretty good company. Many have already commented on his ability to get the ball out quickly this year so when he holds the ball it is likely a conscious decision...as Harbaugh says "Sometimes a sack is the best decision."

Think I'll wait til the end of the year to worry about him holding the ball too long. I like stats though so thanks for the info.

Dude, they pass a lot more than us. Our sack rate is much higher. Before playing the bills, we were 29th. We're 25th now. Few of those sacks can be blamed on the offensive line.

** If you have time to take a long sack, you have time to throw it away.

** as a result, Smith needs to make a decision faster. He's getting better and better every week. And He'll be in the pro bowl this year, IMHO. but he could be even better.

*** remember, we're the best team in football, so when we perform constructive criticism on the team, they're usually minor issues.
Thanks nick. Think this ones already been talked about a lot in other Alex/OL threads? Anyhow, really like FO's...but don't agree with this one. This is the site that only counted 5 of the 12 sacks against the OL and all on Staley? I'm pretty sure Mac and I can debunk that one via our OL analysis. LOL. But what is interesting though is that didn't we lead the NFL last year in short sacks? And now Kolb is taking a pounding? Correlation much? (cough, Snyder, cough).
Originally posted by NCommand:
Thanks nick. Think this ones already been talked about a lot in other Alex/OL threads? Anyhow, really like FO's...but don't agree with this one. This is the site that only counted 5 of the 12 sacks against the OL and all on Staley? I'm pretty sure Mac and I can debunk that one via our OL analysis. LOL. But what is interesting though is that didn't we lead the NFL last year in short sacks? And now Kolb is taking a pounding? Correlation much? (cough, Snyder, cough).

There's data now to support the argument. And I didn't see where they only counted 5/12 of sacks against staley.

I don't have FO premium, but I do know that Snyder was rated the worst guard in the NFL by pro football focus last year. and the rest of the Cardinals line is garbage too, so they just suck really really bad.
Not overly surprised about this. Let's consider that one of those twelve sacks was in Minnesota when Alex lost his footing and tumbled down on his own as he was about to make positive yds. Let's consider that a couple times Alex was rolling wide, he deliberately stayed in bounds hoping that a last second receiver would find an open spot. Let's consider that Alex actually has stepped away from a penetrated gap (which adds pass pro time) but then quickly and subsequently takes a sack from another penetration on another gap. Let's consider that Alex is very careful.. and if his first and 2nd read isn't there, he will takes sacks instead of forcing passes. Let's consider that only until last week was our OL finishing their blocks.. which means that there were times when Alex went to run downfield for positive yds and then sprinted into a sacking DL that the OL didn't sustain his block on.

All in all, if we respect the smart and careful approach of not throwing the ball into questionable coverage? We have to live with some extra sacks as well.
Uh OH!! I can already tell this thread is going to get people defensive. Who cares, its something the guy wanted to point out that a mostly respected entity on this site printed. Alex is still the top rated QB and for this week no one can take that away from him, as long as we keep winning all is well in Ninerland. But Alex does take a few sacks where we all probably scratch our head, hes getting better and better and thats all you could hope for.
Originally posted by nickbradley:
Dude, they pass a lot more than us. Our sack rate is much higher. Before playing the bills, we were 29th. We're 25th now. Few of those sacks can be blamed on the offensive line.

** If you have time to take a long sack, you have time to throw it away.

** as a result, Smith needs to make a decision faster. He's getting better and better every week. And He'll be in the pro bowl this year, IMHO. but he could be even better.

*** remember, we're the best team in football, so when we perform constructive criticism on the team, they're usually minor issues.

Name's not dude, fella. LOL! This has been discussed and the data was discussed a couple of games ago. Not trying to rain on your parade and I did thank you for the stats.
I think the problem with Alex at times (and something I feel he addressed last week against BUF) is his intuition to make something happen when its not really there. This is actually a reverse of how he approached the game a few years ago, when he was quick to pull the trigger and throw it out of bounds without letting the play develop. I dont mind him hanging in the pocket, waiting for one of his receivers to get open. But he does need to factor in field position. A lot of "long sacks" he's taken were when he started twisting out of the d-men and trying to scramble outside the tacklebox. What happened in a few of those situations was that he got sacked and the team ended up outside field goal position.

I like that he hangs in there; I prefer he wait til the last second, and Im willing to take a sack. But not if we're in scoring position.
Originally posted by dtg_9er:
Name's not dude, fella. LOL! This has been discussed and the data was discussed a couple of games ago. Not trying to rain on your parade and I did thank you for the stats.

are you actually offended by 'dude'?
Originally posted by nickbradley:
There's data now to support the argument. And I didn't see where they only counted 5/12 of sacks against staley.

I don't have FO premium, but I do know that Snyder was rated the worst guard in the NFL by pro football focus last year. and the rest of the Cardinals line is garbage too, so they just suck really really bad.

Maybe it was PFF then. Its interesting when you look at our offense in how we design plays to get the ball out in under 3 seconds. The issues are when that option is covered, Alex is forced to scramble...usually rolling to his right buying time = long sack. Also, 4.5 sacks came from Staley (the LT) which means it will take more than 3 seconds for that DE to get around him typically, Alex scrambles, it goes down as a long sack. The bigger issue I think we've been seeing is that the only-option WR wasn't getting open right off the LOS under three seconds (much better the last two games) or the play designs were sprint-right roll outs which cuts the field in half and Alex's guy is covered off the LOS and he has to buy time and eat a 1 yard sack at the sideline = long sack. We're a terrible ad lib team in these situations. It doesn't always mean he's holding the ball too long or that he's indecisive. It doesn't factor in great coverage by the D.

I think someone did a full analysis of all the sacks, time, who was at fault (some on Alex and some of him appropriately holding it long), etc. and you can reference them all here (hyperlinks) along with the video http://www.49erswebzone.com/forum/niners/167613-analysis-1st-down-production-running-log/

That's great for us! Thanks Snyder/Cards!

Always appreciate your analysis and time...thoughts?
[ Edited by NCommand on Oct 12, 2012 at 3:21 PM ]
Originally posted by mella8:
I think the problem with Alex at times (and something I feel he addressed last week against BUF) is his intuition to make something happen when its not really there. This is actually a reverse of how he approached the game a few years ago, when he was quick to pull the trigger and throw it out of bounds without letting the play develop. I dont mind him hanging in the pocket, waiting for one of his receivers to get open. But he does need to factor in field position. A lot of "long sacks" he's taken were when he started twisting out of the d-men and trying to scramble outside the tacklebox. What happened in a few of those situations was that he got sacked and the team ended up outside field goal position.

I like that he hangs in there; I prefer he wait til the last second, and Im willing to take a sack. But not if we're in scoring position.

Good point...mirrors what I was alluding to as well.

And unfortunately it only highlights actual sacks, and not all of the would-be sacks avoided by Alex (believe me, many would be short sacks) and plays made under duress. I know there is another stat that has Alex tops for completions against the blitz which alludes to this topic as well. Sooooo many variables!
Originally posted by nickbradley:
are you actually offended by 'dude'?

No, I like Dean Martin as Dude in Rio Bravo. In a whimsical mood, not trying to be objectionable. The whole argument about sacks seems unimportant given the odd system Harbaugh uses and the fact it is opposite of current trends...so trying to assess stats like sacks and yardage is kind of moot.
[ Edited by dtg_9er on Oct 12, 2012 at 3:19 PM ]
None of this is surprising.

It's simply Alex's play-style. If he can get throw the ball away or find a dump-off, he will, but if he can't, he'll cover up and take a sack. There's a reason why he's the best at limiting turnovers. If he feels like there's no throw to be made or senses that a rusher might be looking to strip the football, then he'll cover up and take the sack. This way, he won't make a bonehead interception or end up with a sack/fumble. These mistakes are what are making great quarterbacks like Mike Vick or Philip Rivers look foolish.

It doesn't make our offensive line look good, on paper, but in the context of our team and the things we try to do, it's perfectly acceptable.

Alex's decision-making is getting faster and faster though, so I think the amount of sacks will go down... but keep in mind, he's probably not going to be among the least-sacked quarterbacks in the league.
Originally posted by Wubbie:
None of this is surprising.

It's simply Alex's play-style. If he can get throw the ball away or find a dump-off, he will, but if he can't, he'll cover up and take a sack. There's a reason why he's the best at limiting turnovers. If he feels like there's no throw to be made or senses that a rusher might be looking to strip the football, then he'll cover up and take the sack. This way, he won't make a bonehead interception or end up with a sack/fumble.

That's correct, but its what less-developed quarterbacks do. The superstars recgonize the coverages a 1/2 second earlier and either make the attempt, throw it away, or run for it.