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Tyrod Watch: Introducing the Escapability Index

Sacks have been an official NFL statistic since 1982. For all those years, we've known how many times a quarterback has been sacked, but not how many times he was able to avoid a sack.

Last year, while rewatching early season Bills games, I realized that despite Tyrod Taylor's tendency to be sacked (he was sacked 42 times in 2016, the most in the NFL), he has an ability to escape many sacks.

Context and comparison are vital in analysis, so tracking how often Taylor gets sacked relative to how often I deemed he escaped one makes sense.

I'm calling it "Escapability Index." That's all it is: escapes minus sacks, resulting in a positive or negative number.

Criteria

  • Not every avoidance of a sack is counted as an escape, because the majority of quarterbacks have enough athleticism or skill in the pocket to avoid minimal to moderate pressure. Escapes come on plays in which I deem only fewer than 20 percent of the league's current starters (six signal-callers: Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Marcus Mariota and two others collectively) could have pulled off Taylor's sack avoidance.
  • The outcome of the play after the escape doesn't matter, whether it be a completion, scramble, throwaway and so on. However, an escape will not be counted if Taylor eludes a sack to only be later taken down for a sack on the same play.
  • "Sacks" need to be a defensive player bringing Taylor to the turf. Running out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage will not be counted as a sack.
  • To summarize, an escape is only counted if, by my determination, 80 percent of the starting quarterbacks in the NFL would not have been able to execute the sack avoidance, and if a sack didn't ultimately occur on the same play.

Bills-Panthers Scouting Report: Tyrod Taylor will need to air it out more

Against the Jets in Week One, Taylor's escapability formula was as follows:

  • Escapes: 3
  • Sacks: 1 (discounting a run that went for 0 yards that was officially scored as a sack)
  • Escapability Index: +2

It was a moderately elusive day for Taylor. He ran the football eight times for 38 yards and threw it away on four occasions. Pro Football Focus tracked him being under pressure on 24.2 percent of his dropbacks.

As the season progresses, the numbers will tell a story. I'm going to assume a positive Escapability Index equates to a positive day in the sack department for the Bills quarterback.

It'll be intriguing to see where Taylor's Escapability Index lands against a more formidable pass-rushing front in Carolina on Sunday.

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