Earlier this week, former Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos defensive lineman DeMarcus Ware made headlines for predicting that the New England Patriots would go one-and-done in the postseason. His reasoning behind the statement was that potential playoff opponents like the Jacksonville Jaguars or Pittsburgh Steelers would have the defenses to put pressure on quarterback Tom Brady.
Brady, according to Ware, would “fold” under such pressure. This statement is by itself a rather ridiculous one considering that a) no quarterback stays the same when moved off the spot regularly, and b) Brady has proven in the past that he is able to overcome this more often than not. Furthermore, a look at the statistics also disproves Ware's claim as Brady is the league's highest-rated passer in pressure situations.
Pressure, of course, can be defined rather vaguely. After all, quarterbacks rarely stand perfectly still in the pocket but instead move around. Brady is a perfect example for this, as his team often uses a blocking pattern that gives the future Hall of Famer room to climb the pocket by moving the pass rush around him. If this or other movements are defined as pressure, Brady's statistics of course look different than if that is not the case.
With that in mind, it is no surprise that outlets offer different statistics of quarterbacks under pressure. But no matter who is asked, Brady sits atop the rankings rather comfortably:
Being under pressure doesn't stop these quarterbacks from being productive pic.twitter.com/kjK1TE21nm— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 27, 2017
According to analytics website Pro Football Focus, Brady posts a 97.0 passer rating when pressured – the highest in the NFL and almost a full seven points better than his next closest competitor, Tampa Bay Buccaneers passer Jameis Winston. Winston is also second-best according to ESPN, posting a passer rating of 94.6 when pressured. However, the difference to Brady looks mightily different: According to ESPN's statistics, Brady posts a 111.3 passer rating when under pressure.
It is critical that Quarterbacks are able to execute when facing defensive pressure.— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) December 27, 2017
Here are the top-rated passers this season when UNDER PRESSURE! Brady remains the best...#GoPats #Bucs #HTTR #Skol #TitanUp #GoBills #Bengals50 #GiantsPride #HereWeGo #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/8A1gtAOH10
Brady's 111.3 rating would actually be better than his regular season-long rating of 104.2. But while the statistic – just like PFF's – has to be taken with a grain of salt, the point still stands: Brady is clearly the league's best passer when pressured. If this is what folding looks like, New England is in a rather comfortable spot entering the playoffs.