The great Play-Action debate: How does Brock Purdy stack up against the NFL?

the great play-action debate: how does brock purdy stack up against the nfl?

The great Play-Action debate: How does Brock Purdy stack up against the NFL?

Play action, when executed correctly, is a thing of beauty. Second-level defenders rush to the line of scrimmage, EDGE rushers collapse on the ball carrier, and the quarterback has clearer passing lanes to work with. The 49ers execute play action as well as anyone in the NFL, partly because of their potent rushing attack but more so because Brock Purdy is as efficient as can be off play fakes.

In the NFL, nearly every quarterback’s passer rating spikes off play-action rather than straight dropbacks. In Purdy’s case,’ the 49ers' potent play-action attack is an argument used against the former Iowa State quarterback.

How does Purdy stack up against the NFL in terms of play-action versus- straight dropbacks? Carter Donnick recently posted a chart highlighting both metrics, which can be seen below.

For the record, Purdy has the third-largest drop-off from play action (133.1) to dropbacks (100.1), only behind Joe Flacco and Kenny Pickett. However, Flacco’s rating drops from 121.8 to 72.4, and Pickett’s rating drops from 109.7 to 75.6. So yes, Purdy has the third-largest drop-off, but his rating as a dropback passer far exceeds Flacco and Pickett. Daniel Jones rounds out the top four.

Purdy is first in passer rating off play-action and sits third in dropback passer rating behind Kirk Cousins (101.9) and Dak Prescott (107.7). Prescott is one of seven quarterbacks whose play-action passer rating drops vs dropbacks (95 to 107.7), joining Kyler Murray, Trevor Lawrence, Mac Jones, Jalen Hurts, Sam Howell, and Baker Mayfield.

Patrick Mahomes is the only quarterback with zero difference between play-action and dropbacks, with a 94.1 rating. Mahomes is part of a tier of the lowest increase from play-action joined by Justin Fields (101.2 to 81.6), Bryce Young (87.8 to 70.9), Tua Tagovailoa (109.1 to 94.8), Derek Carr (108.9 to 95.7), Matthew Stafford (104.5 to 91.6), Josh Dobbs (88.7 to 76.1), Gardner Minshew (91.4 to 82.2), Joe Burrow (96.8 to 89.4), and Cousins.

The tier with the second-highest increase from play-action to dropbacks is headed by Jordan Love (118 to 89.5). Following Love is Deshaun Watson (106 to 78.1), C.J. Stroud (122.7 to 95.1), Lamar Jackson (121 to 93.9), Russell Wilson (118.1 to 92.1), Geno Smith (111.6 to 86), Zach Wilson (97.2 to 71.7), Justin Herbert (110.8 to 87.4), Josh Allen (116.4 to 93.2), Will Levis (100.8 to 77.6), Jared Goff (115.2 to 92.8), Aidan O’Connell (101.2 to 78.8), and Desmond Ridder (98.1 to 76.6).

What does this all mean? Purdy is yet to command the proper respect as a dropback passer and is extremely efficient off play-action. Some of the best passers in the game don’t have the baseline dropback rating compared to Purdy, nor the play-action mark.

Is it time to put some more respect on Purdy’s name? The answer is YES.

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