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Drew Lock’s passing results by pass distance

Was there a change vs the Carolina Panthers relative to previous games this season for Drew Lock?

Denver Broncos v Carolina Panthers Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

According to NFL NextGen Stats, Drew Lock is throwing more long passes than any other QB in the league. He has the largest IAY (Intended Air Yards) for any starter. The only guy with a higher IAY is, ironically, Joe Flacco, who has thrown only 134 passes this season. Flacco has an IAY of 10.9. Drew Lock is first among starters with an IAY of 9.5. Baker Mayfield is second at 9.2. Not surprisingly, Alex Smith is last in the league in IAY at 5.3. He has been last for as many of the years that he has was a starter. Smith’s AYT (average yards to the sticks) is also last in the league at -3.7, meaning that one average his throws are 3.7 yards behind the first down marker. Compare this to Flacco at 2.2 (it’s easy to be aggressive when you are driving the tank) and Baker Mayfield at 0.8. Lock is actually 3rd in this stat at 0.6.

A big part of Lock’s career game so far last Sunday, was his choice to NOT throw deep unless is was wide open. He threw a whole bunch of passes behind, at, and near the LOS on Sunday. This got me thinking about how he has performed this season by game by throwing distance. NextGen stats has this graphically, but they don’t have it tabulated with numbers. So I decided to do this for Drew Lock.

Opponent Behind LOS att Behind LOS comp BLOS COMP% 0-5 yards att 0-5 yards comp 0-5 COMP% 5-10 yards att 5-10 yards comp 5-10 COMP% 10+ att 10+ comp 10+ COMP% 20+ att 20+ comp 20+ COMP%
TEN 9 9 100% 5 3 60% 8 7 88% 9 3 33% 4 0 0%
PIT 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 1 20% 3 1 33%
NEW 1 0 0% 4 3 75% 2 1 50% 17 6 35% 9 2 22%
KAN 5 5 100% 13 9 69% 12 9 75% 11 2 18% 4 1 25%
LAC 3 2 67% 12 10 83% 11 10 91% 12 5 42% 6 1 17%
ATL 2 1 50% 10 6 60% 16 12 75% 17 8 47% 9 1 11%
LVR 2 1 50% 11 3 27% 18 12 67% 16 7 44% 5 2 40%
MIA 3 3 100% 8 6 75% 4 3 75% 14 6 43% 6 2 33%
KAN 3 2 67% 9 7 78% 4 3 75% 11 3 27% 5 1 20%
CAR 10 9 90% 5 4 80% 2 1 50% 10 8 80% 3 3 100%

I found it interesting that Drew Lock threw almost as many passes behind the LOS in the first game of the season as he did against Carolina. It should be noted that his ten throws behind the LOS last Sunday equaled what he had done in the previous four games.

Another thing that I found really interesting is the lack of throws in the 5-10 yard range against Carolina. He has 18 throws in this range against the Raiders and only two against the Panthers. What also should jump out at you is his accuracy in the 10+ range and then specifically in the 20+ range (the 20+ throws are included in the 10+ numbers). Lock completed 80% of his throws that landed 10 or more yards beyond the LOS in this game. This was, by far, his most accurate game this season for deep throws. It was also the fewest deep throws that he has made this season since the first game.

For comparison I wanted to go look at Josh Allen, at least cursorily. Last week in their 26-15 win over the Steelers, Josh Allen was 4/4 on throws behind the LOS. He was 7/9 on throws from 0-5 yards and 10/12 with 1 TD on throws 5-10 yards. On throws 10-20 yards beyond the LOS he was only 3/11 with one TD. If you count the end of the half throw (that landed 55 yards beyond the LOS), Allen was 0-6 with 1 INT on throws. I don’t know how this compares to Allen’s other games this season, but I can see his heat map here, along with Lock’s.

Allen appears to be deadly when throwing deep right, but fairly poor when throwing deep middle. He has also been really good on throws in the 0-10 yard range this year. Compare this to Drew Lock who has only been good on short throws to his left this year. From a comparative perspective Drew Lock only has three zones of the field where he is green while Josh Allen currently has seven. Aaron Rodgers currently has 10 green zones. No QB has more this year. Rodgers has no red zones, but that is not uncommon. The same can be said of Kyler Murray, Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson, Derek Carr and Patrick Mahomes.

As noted in discussion with Joe Rowles, the Bronco passing offense has come changed a great deal since the beginning of the season. While the total number of throws behind, at, or near the LOS vs TEN and CAR was comparable, the routes were not. The routes vs TEN were many that required the QB to lead the receiver, something that Drew Lock is still not good at doing. The throws vs CAR had many more comebacks and curls which allow to throw to the open guy as opposed to “throwing a guy open”.

It will be interesting to see if this trend continues tomorrow. Does Pat Shurmur continue to give Lock throws that are easier for him to make? Does the Buffalo defense force Lock to do things that he still is not great at doing? What do you guys think happens tomorrow?