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Trevor Siemian’s deep balls - film study and data

We examine Trevor Siemian’s twelve regular season completions of 21 yards or more, but first, enjoy this highlight reel of Siemian’s first full season as a starting quarterback.

After you get done chuckling over the title, you’ll notice that this is a discussion of Trevor Siemian’s relative inability to throw deep passes accurately. Paxton Lynch was worse, though, in very limited playing time.

Ryan 25 52 48.1% 995 9 0
Luck 26 55 47.3% 887 8 4
Bradford 18 40 45.0% 625 4 0
Wilson 26 58 44.8% 886 6 4
Cousins 30 68 44.1% 1110 9 2
Brees 22 50 44.0% 920 6 4
Carr 20 46 43.5% 717 7 2
Tannehill 16 40 40.0% 641 8 4
Dalton 19 48 39.6% 753 3 0
Roethlisberger 31 81 38.3% 1016 13 3
Brady 16 42 38.1% 620 5 1
Mariota 19 50 38.0% 643 6 3
Prescott 16 43 37.2% 526 6 1
Stafford 17 48 35.4% 711 3 2
Rivers 20 58 34.5% 763 9 7
Fitzpatrick 14 43 32.6% 431 1 3
Winston 17 55 30.9% 516 11 6
Siemian 12 39 30.8% 451 4 1
Taylor 16 53 30.2% 633 6 4
A. Smith 12 40 30.0% 427 2 2
Rodgers 21 72 29.2% 723 6 2
Wentz 14 53 26.4% 441 4 6
Newton 16 62 25.8% 634 9 2
Manning 17 66 25.8% 576 5 6
Goff 4 16 25.0% 142 1 0
Flacco 14 57 24.6% 516 5 4
Palmer 12 55 21.8% 442 4 5
Osweiler 10 51 19.6% 333 4 2
Bortles 10 58 17.2% 304 1 6
Lynch 1 14 7.1% 26 0 1

As you can see from the table, Trevor Siemian finished in the middle of the pack in terms of deep ball accuracy. The average NFl QB this season threw 33% of his passes 21 or more yards beyond the LOS. In that respect Siemian was close to average at 31.8%.

QB % short % long
Winston 53.6% 46.4%
Fitzpatrick 58.7% 41.3%
Palmer 60.8% 39.2%
Mariota 61.0% 39.0%
Newton 61.3% 38.7%
Lynch 65.1% 34.9%
Taylor 65.4% 34.6%
Roethlisberger 65.6% 34.4%
Carr 65.7% 34.3%
Bortles 65.7% 34.3%
Rivers 66.3% 33.7%
Ryan 66.5% 33.5%
Wilson 66.9% 33.1%
Tannehill 67.1% 32.9%
Prescott 67.4% 32.6%
Rodgers 67.6% 32.4%
Brady 67.7% 32.3%
Luck 68.1% 31.9%
Siemian 68.2% 31.8%
Osweiler 68.9% 31.1%
Manning 69.2% 30.8%
Cousins 69.7% 30.3%
Dalton 69.9% 30.1%
Wentz 70.2% 29.8%
Stafford 72.3% 27.7%
Goff 72.4% 27.6%
Brees 73.2% 26.8%
A. Smith 73.8% 26.2%
Bradford 76.1% 23.9%

There were many QBs right around that average with Jameis Winston being the most likely to throw deep and Sam Bradford the least likely. Note that Paxton Lynch was more willing to throw deep in his limited time than Siemian. You can see that Seimian had only 12 completed passes that landed 21 or more yards from the LOS during 2016. Below is a table of them.

Catch # OPP Game Quarter LOS Time Receiver Yards from LOS Underthrown?
1 CIN 3 2 CIN 41 14:04 ES 40 yes
2 CIN 3 4 DEN 17 6:02 JH 22 no
3 CIN 3 4 DEN 45 4:32 DT 40 yes
4 HOU 7 3 HOU 33 1:55 ES 29 yes - maybe backshoulder?
5 SD 8 2 SD 48 6:05 ES 38 no - almost overthrown
6 SD 8 4 SD 44 7:21 DT 38 yes
7 OAK 9 2 DEN 22 10:39 DT 24 no - backshoulder
8 OAK 9 2 OAK 36 8:31 JN 37 no
9 KC 11 3 KC 42 11:04 DT 21 not really
10 KC 11 4 KC 35 7:53 ES 30 no
11 TEN 13 3 TEN 49 3:46 DT 30 yes
12 KC 15 3 DEN 11 10:52 ES 25 yes

You’ll note that 6 of his 12 completions were badly underthrown (receiver had to slow down and/or turn around to catch the pass). You should also note that in 8 of Siemian’s 14 games, he did not complete a deep pass and that 25% of deep completions came in one game.

A big thank you to Tim Lynch for creating all of the GIFs.

Catch #1

Had this pass been thrown accurately, it would have landed about 3 yards deep in the endzone. Instead it is thrown about 5 yards short, causing Emmanuel Sanders to slow down and turn around in order to catch it. Some times a QB will intentionally underthrow a deep pass to avoid the deep safety from making a play on the ball. There was no deep help here so this was not an intentional underthrow.

Catch #2

This pass is on target. This was Jeff Heuerman’s first NFL catch. The protection was good and Siemian makes a nice throw hit Heuerman in stride after the perfunctory play-fake.

Catch #3

Surprisingly, our offense was middle of the league in terms of converting on 3rd and long (7 or more needed). We converted on 31 of 112 (27.7%) - 14th in the NFL. The Giants were worst at 19.0% and the Lions were best at 35.4%. We were near the bottom of the league at conversion on 3rd and medium (29th - 39.0%) and worst in the league at conversion on 3rd and short (43.1%). This was one of those 31 conversions on 3rd and long. Cincy is rushing 5. Again, Trevor has time to throw and a clean pocket to step into. It appears that he locks onto Demaryius Thomas from the outset (it’s hard to tell, he might have glanced to his right initially). This is badly underthrown, DT has some separation, but has to slow down to catch the ball. DT still has a walk-in TD because of the poor tackling by the CIN CB. Similar to catch #1, I think Siemian was worried about overthrowing it and he unded up underthrowing the ball.

Catch #4

This is from the Monday night game against the Texans. This ends up being completed and I can’t tell if this was intentionally thrown to the Sander’s back shoulder or if was just luck. The Texans rushed 6 leaving Sanders one-on-one with their CB. Siemian has a recently clean pocket to throw from, although one defender is at his feet as he releases the ball. Jeff Heuerman gets rag-dolled by Brian Cushing trying to pass-protect. If this was designed as a back-shoulder throw, it was well-placed by Siemian. If it was not, it was a great adjustment by Emmanuel Sanders.

Catch #5

This is the first throw were TS was under pressure. He has no unload the ball and he takes a bit hit in doing so. The Chargers rush 4 and our RT gets lost because of DL stunt leading to a TS taking a shot to the ribs. This is an amazing catch by Sanders who lays out for this ball which is the only time in 2016 where Siemian overthrew a deep ball and completed it. The SD defender, leary of getting a flag, pulls up instead of drilling Sanders. This was a max-protect half-field play. We only have three receivers running routes with Virgil Green and Andy Janovich both staying in to block. After the play-fake, Kapri Bibbs joins ES and DT in running routes. This is a play design for ease of reading. All three Bronco receivers are on one side of the field. Sanders looks like he is running a double move (post and up) while it is hard to tell if DT is running a go or a post as he is off-screen at the time of the catch.

Catch #6

SD only rushes four on this play. The protection is very good and Siemian has no pressure and clean pocket to step up into. This pass is not thrown accurately. It should have been more toward the sideline. DT has to slow down and reach over the defender to make the catch. If this ball is thrown deeper, DT doesn’t have to make a spectacular catch. You could argue that if the ball is thrown deeper the safety could make a play on it. However, if the ball is thrown three feet to the left, it’s a much easier catch for DT. Again it’s hard to say if this is where Siemian wanted to place the ball or if this is just where it ended up. I’m going to guess that this is not where he wanted the ball to go.

Catch #7

The Faiders bring five inlcuding a DB who puts a hard shot on TS as he is throwing. We our in an empty set with TE on the right and four WRs. A veteran QB probably recognizes the blitz here and audibles to a play to take advantage of the blitzing DB. Instead, TS throws a deep ball to DT’s back shoulder (by design?). The coverage was good and this is probably the only spot where he could have completed this ball to DT. This was one of our few conversion on 3rd and medium this year and one of our handful of 3rd down conversions overall in this game.

Catch #8

From the same game and the same drive (our one good drive that game) we are in a single back set with two WRs and the TE on the right side of the formation. The run fake does a good job of distracting the LB and the DBs and the Faider backside DE is indecisive and does not come hard after TS until it is too late. TS sets his feet well and puts this ball on the money IMO. Jordan Norwood makes his lone good play of the season here as he does have to adjust a little to the ball - turning around to catch it. I did not call this an underthrow. Others who are less forgiving might do so.

Catch #9

The Chiefs rush 6 and the blocking holds up well. TS does a decent job of looking off the safety. The pocket holds up well and Ts throws a ball to the sideline for DT. I can’t tell if this is another backshoulder throw, or just a badly underthrown ball. There was plenty of room up the sideline, but DT has to stop to make the catch. What do you think? This is another one of our handful of conversions on 3rd and medium this season.

Catch #10

This is the second deep completion from the first game against KC (note that he did not have one in the second game).

The Chiefs rush five and the pocket is collapsing when TS releases the ball. ES comes all the way across the field to make the catch. They are covering him one-on-one with Gaines (IIRC) and there is no safety help over the top as the single high safety shades to DT and can’t get over in time. This is a well-thrown ball under pressure.

Catch #11

The Titans rush 4 and TS has a decent pocket here but he doesn’t really step into this throw. The resultant throw is horribly short and DT has to make a jump-ball type play on it. Thankfully he gets the rebound, but this could have easily been an interception against a better CB. I’m calling this an underthrow. You could make the argument that this is where TS was trying to throw the ball, but I think DT and the defenders both thought this ball was going to land around the 13. Notice the path of the safety on this play.

Catch #12

The Chiefs, as they did all game, only rush 4. TS has plenty of time and space to throw, but he put the ball in an odd place. ES had beaten his man and had space up the sideline, but TS throws it short so that ES has to turn around and essentially stop to make the catch. You could argue that if TS had thrown the ball deeper that the safety could have made a play on it, but this look like another underthrown deep ball to me.

So there you have it. Every deep ball that TS completed this season. Before we pass judgment (if you are inclined to do so), remember that Peyton Manning in 2013 was only 10 of 17 (58.8%) for 444 yards with 5 TDs and 0 INTs on deep passes. So we have seen some accurate deep throws out of our Bronco QBs, it’s just been some time. In 2015 our QBs were a combined 16 of 66 (24.2%) for 660 with 4 TDs and 5 INTs.