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Tom Brady’s completion rate drops the most in the league when under pressure

The Patriots quarterback would rather throw an incomplete pass.

Pro Football Focus tweeted out a chart showing the five quarterbacks that saw their completion rate drop the most while under pressure and New England Patriots QB Tom Brady topped the list.

Brady saw his completion rate fall a league-high 28.2% from 75.4% without pressure to 47.2% with pressure. The top (bottom?) five included Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton, Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota, Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan, and Buffalo Bills QB Tyrod Taylor.

The chart shows that Brady was the second-most accurate quarterback in the league without pressure, but fell to 21st out of 29 quarterbacks when pressured. While this could be used to imply that Brady is the quarterback most affected by pressure, it simply isn’t true.

Brady ranked third in the league in sack rate, going down to the ground on a mere 3.4% of his dropbacks. The other players on the list like Mariota (4.9%), Ryan (6.5%), Dalton (6.8%), and Taylor (8.8%!) takes sacks far more frequently, setting the team up with negative down and distance. Throwing the ball away and avoiding the sack is a far superior decision to make when under pressure.

If we add the quarterback’s sack rate to their decline in completion rate while under pressure to account for both negative outcomes of being under pressure, then we see a different picture with these top five quarterbacks.

Taylor takes the lead with the biggest drop in success rate of -34.5%, followed by Dalton (-33.9%) and Ryan (-32.8%). Brady is tied for the best of this quintet with Mariota at -31.6%.

So, sure, Brady completes fewer passes than others while under pressure. But that’s intentional. He’d rather burn a down and avoid a sack, than burn a down and lose yards.