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QB KlassRoom

Quantifying Quarterbacks: Anthony Gordon

by Derrik Klassen
Updated On: March 20, 2020, 10:31 am ET

Quantifying Quarterbacks is an NFL Draft focused quarterback charting project geared toward providing as much information about as much of a quarterback's recent career as possible. Over 20 data points are recorded for any given pass attempt, ranging from down-and-distance, personnel grouping, play-action, depth of target, accuracy, and much more. Quantifying Quarterbacks charts the entirety of a quarterback's final college season, as well as a smaller sample (four games) from their previous season. All of this charting is done manually by me during and after the college football season. For a more in-depth look at what exactly Quantifying Quarterbacks is, here is a link to last year's final product: 2019 Quantifying Quarterbacks.


Anthony Gordon Charting Profile
Distance (Usage Rate) Left Outside Left Middle Right Middle Right Outside Total
20+ (9.83%) 2/11 (2 INT) 4/6 (3 TD) 5/11 (2 TD, 1 INT) 4/12 (2 TD, 1 INT) 15/40 (7 TD, 4 INT)
16-20 (4.67%) 1/1 4/6 (2 INT) 2/2 6/10 (2 INT) 13/19 (4 INT)
11-15 (13.76%) 0/1 14/22 (1 TD, 1 INT) 15/21 (2 TD, 1 INT) 7/12 (2 TD, 1 INT) 36/56 (5 TD, 3 INT)
6-10 (11.79%) 3/4 (1 TD) 9/12 (1 TD) 19/27 (2 TD) 4/5 (1 TD) 35/48 (5 TD)
1-5 (34.64%) 6/6 (1 TD) 43/51 (2 TD) 57/68 (1 TD, 2 INT) 11/16 (1 TD) 117/141 (5 TD, 2 INT)
0 (22.36%) 3/4 38/40 (3 TD) 36/36 (1 TD) 10/11 87/91 (4 TD)
Total (407 plays) 15/27 (2 TD, 2 INT) 112/137 (10 TD, 3 INT) 134/165 (8 TD, 4 INT) 42/66 (6 TD, 4 INT) 303/395 (26 TD, 13 INT)

Games Charted: North Colorado, Houston, New Mexico State, UCLA, Oregon, Utah, Oregon State, Washington (all from 2019)

 

CHARTING EXTRAS

Blatant Drops: 9

Forced Adjustments: 11 (2.70%)

Contested Drops: 20

Passes Defended: 30

Explosive Plays: 44 (10.81%)

Throwaways: 12

Air Raid often gets conflated as "vertical passing offense" when that is not necessarily the case. As for Anthony Gordon's year behind center at Washington State, Mike Leach's Air Raid offense certainly was not a vertical attack. Not even 15% of Gordon's pass attempts were beyond the 15-yard mark -- still an average to slightly below-average rate, but certainly not one of a highly-aggressive offense. Of course, this low percentage of deep passes is in part because Washington State "replaces" running plays with screens and short passing concepts while throwing 50+ times per game, which skews the passing rates away from deep passing. Even still, Gordon's target frequency down the field is no different than the average quarterback, Air Raid or otherwise. 

Perhaps the most notable trend in Gordon's passing chart is how little he targeted outside the numbers. Just under 25% of Gordon's attempts were to the outside portion of the field. Whereas most quarterbacks have fairly even spreads throughout each of the quadrants, Gordon almost entirely played between the numbers. Given Gordon does not have the strongest arm and only has the one year of tape, it is a minor concern that Gordon seemed unwilling and unable to throw outside the numbers. On only throw outside the numbers, Gordon held just a 61.83% adjusted accuracy rate, which is significantly lower than his base adjusted accuracy of 74.56%. Surely every QB is somewhat worse outside the numbers, but the stark drop-off in accuracy combined with the low target rate is enough evidence for this to be an issue for Gordon's profile.

If I were to guess, part of Gordon's issue throwing outside is how lazy his feet are. While Gordon does have a flexible upper body with a strong, consistent release, footwork still plays a role in accuracy, especially when throwing outside the numbers. Gordon often fails to move his feet throughout his progressions or reset them upon throwing, which can lead to issues with his body being discombobulated as he is trying to get the ball out. 

Gordon is a stud over the middle, though. How much that can outweigh his struggles outside the numbers is up for debate, but a handful of quarterbacks such as Jared Goff, Case Keenum, and Andy Dalton have shown some success despite being notably worse outside the numbers than they are over the middle. Gordon may be able to fall into a similar archetype. 

ACCURACY AND ENVIRONMENT

Adjusted Accuracy: 74.56%

Outside the Pocket Percentage: 10.07%

Adjusted Accuracy Outside the Pocket: 44.63%

Under Pressure Percentage: 15.23%

Adjusted Accuracy Under Pressure: 56.45%

Most Common Personnel Package: 10 personnel (81.33%)

Shotgun Percentage: 100.00%

Empty Formations Frequency: 4.91%

Play-Action Percentage: 12.29%

Play-Action Adjusted Accuracy: 80.40%

Designed Rollout Frequency: 0.02%

Gordon's overall adjusted accuracy score is quite good, but it needs to be weighed with a couple of caveats. For one, Gordon often faced very light pass-rushes, which we will get to later, and in turn faced little pressure. Washington State's offense also did not throw down the field as often as one may believe, which helps Gordon's score plenty because Gordon is not an impressive deep passer. Gordon's accuracy score is still fantastic even with those things in mind, but they still need to be considered when stacking his accuracy against others. 

Where Gordon's charting profile strays from the general perception of his game is in his play outside the pocket. On film, Gordon has a handful of absurd throws from outside the pocket, almost all of which show off his flexible upper body and ability to throw from any platform. The peak of Gordon's accuracy outside the pocket and play-making ability is among the best in the class. However, that positive perception of Gordon's ability and accuracy outside the pocket is heavily weighted by a handful of great play rather than being a result of consistently good play from outside the pocket. Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, for example, have all of the same kinds of splash plays yet still maintain excellent consistency in some of the simpler throws outside the pocket, whereas Gordon is a roller coaster with exhilarating moments spread few and far between. The highs stick in our minds because we all want Gordon to be that player all the time, but the reality is that he is not. Hopefully a good coach can get more of those plays out of him. 

It should come as no surprise that Washington State's offense was structured completely different than almost any of the offenses the other prospects played in. Not only is Gordon one of the few QBs with a 100% shotgun rate, he also played more than 80% of his snaps out of 10 personnel, which is far more of a "spread" identity than other offenses. Furthermore, Gordon has the opposite issue with play-action compared to most quarterbacks. Plenty of quarterbacks have play-action rates of 40% or higher, which is somewhat unrealistic for the NFL game, yet Gordon's sub-15% play-action rate is far lower than he will be asked to execute in the NFL. Many of Gordon's play-action attempts are just RPOs, too, in which he often ended up throwing a quick screen behind the line of scrimmage. Very, very few of Gordon's overall pass attempts were legit, NFL-like play-action attempts. 

Avg. Number of Pass Rushers: 3.89

Three or Fewer Pass Rushers Frequency: 34.15%

Four Pass Rushers Frequency: 47.17%

Five Pass Rushers Frequency: 14.50%

Six or More Pass Rushers Frequency: 4.18%

No other quarterback in this class faced as light of a pass-rush as Gordon. In fact, Gordon is the only quarterback I've charted who faced an average of fewer than four pass-rushers. Gordon almost exclusively faced a standard four pass-rushers or less and saw five-or-more rushers just 18.68% of the time. Due to the nature of Washington State's wide-open, pass-happy Air Raid offense, many defenses felt comfortable dropping eight men into coverage frequently and forcing Gordon to beat them with a barrage of short passes through zone windows. 

However, Gordon's Utah game serves as the best insight as to what he may look like versus good, aggressive defenses. Gordon faced a number of other slightly aggressive defenses throughout the year, including UCLA and Oregon State, but Utah was the only opponent with top-end talent and an attacking mind set. Utah forced the worst game of the year out of Gordon, holding him to five yards per attempt with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Lastly, while it won't really show up in pass-rush numbers, Gordon struggled mightily with "creeper" packages throughout the season. In short, "creepers" are defenders who line up across or near the line of scrimmage as if they are rushing the passer, only to bail at the snap and drop into coverage. This can be a defensive end, linebacker, or a walked-up defensive back, it does not matter. Gordon got caught sleeping a few times against these packages and threw interceptions at them on more than one occasion. With "creeper" packages gaining popularity in the NFL, not being able to diagnose them is a concern. 

SITUATIONAL

3rd/4th Down Adjusted Accuracy: 57.89%

3rd/4th Down Conversion Rate: 42.25%

4th Quarter/Overtime Adjusted Accuracy: 66.13%

Red Zone Adjusted Accuracy: 62.32%

Gordon's situational numbers are some of the worst in the class. Though Gordon somehow maintained a fairly decent 3rd/4th down conversion rate, his accuracy score on those downs is awful. 65% seems to be the low-end on 3rd/4th down accuracy for most any other quarterback, but Gordon failed to hit even 60%. A few quarterbacks in this class hit 75%-plus accuracy on 3rd/4th down, for comparison. 

Thankfully, Gordon's accuracy in the 4th quarter and in the red zone are not as disappointing, though neither are particularly impressive. It is shocking that Gordon's overall adjusted accuracy can be among the best in the class, yet when it comes to crunch time, Gordon cannot seem to connect the way he normally can. Part of that is likely an increase in defensive aggression alongside needing to fit the ball into tighter windows, which can be troublesome for Gordon considering his middling velocity, but the difference is still stark and a tad worrisome.