With concerns over accuracy, CFL ditches QB pressures stat

Citing concerns over the accuracy of the data, the CFL has dropped quarterback pressures from its roster of statistics.

The league started including the stat in its game reports and packages last season but according to Steve Daniel, the CFL’s director of game information and statistics, there were challenges in defining what constituted a quarterback pressure.

“One of the tough things about quarterback pressures is what exactly is a pressure?” Daniel said this week. “I’ll give you an example from the weekend: a quarterback drops back, doesn’t see anybody coming, doesn’t move off his spot, throws the ball and then he gets killed by the defensive lineman. Is that a pressure? It looks like one, it feels like one but the quarterback didn’t do anything different and the defensive lineman might as well not been there.”

The subjective nature of the decision-making around what constituted a pressure led to a wide variability in the reporting from the stats crews in the nine CFL cities. There were, for example, substantial discrepancies in pressures awarded to home teams versus visiting ones. That to led to complaints from coaches and general managers around the league, though Daniel says the decision wasn’t based solely on their concerns.

“I don’t change stats when coaches come to me but I listen to the feedback carefully. I had an offensive line coach who came to me and said ‘my general manager thinks this data is real and you could get me fired.'” Daniel said. “The variability in the data has an impact on teams and coaches and players. I didn’t feel pressure from coaches – no pun intended – but I listened to their feedback.”

Daniel says the vast majority of the stats collected by the CFL don’t have a subjective element and those that do are tracked carefully. He points out that the NFL doesn’t measure quarterback pressures and that the CFL is trying to take a more analytical approach by offering data on play-calling tendencies, the impact of sacks and penalties and the QUAR rating for quarterbacks launched last year.

The most recent example was added this season: statistics tracking the number of pass attempts by yardage from quarterbacks around the CFL. Calgary’s Bo Levi Mitchell leads the league with 19 pass attempts of 20-yards or more while Montreal’s Drew Willy has a whopping 31 attempts – more than half his total – between 0 and three yards.

“These numbers are tremendously revealing and they are objective because they are based on precise yard lines of where the receiver is,” Daniel said.

While the league may be getting rid of quarterback pressures, the stat will still be available in some form as TSN’s Derek Taylor does his own independent tracking of the numbers.


Taylor collects his own stats so he doesn’t have the same variability issues as the CFL but Daniel points out there is still uncertainty around the numbers.

“Derek created his own definition for quarterback pressures,” Daniel said. “He gave Willie Jefferson 45 last year and we had him with 37 so clearly we have a different definition.”

Daniel hopes the CFL will eventually find a way to include QB pressures but says it won’t happen until he’s confident in the numbers.

“We’re really not getting good data and until we find a way to get good data, we’ve deferred it until we can find a way to get really good objective data that’s fair to all the players and clubs,” he said.

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1569 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

17 Comments on With concerns over accuracy, CFL ditches QB pressures stat

  1. Just saying // July 4, 2018 at 11:18 am //


  2. Best CFL Fan // July 4, 2018 at 11:26 am //

    Since they’re thinking about redefining stats, how about an asterisk for interceptions where the pass hits the receiver’s hands before being tipped to the interceptor. Some of this INTs are entirely the Receivers fault and should not be lumped indiscriminately in the QBs stats.

    Also drops. Can there be some asterisks for accurate passes that are statistically counted as incompletes (ie against the record of the QB) when the QB has done his job perfectly. In the same category are “targets”; this conveys no meaning to me. If a guy has 8 targets and 4 catches, does that mean he’s a bad catcher or that his QB was way off the mark? Time to give this stat some needed clarity.

    • That won’t happen

    • J. Love // July 4, 2018 at 1:02 pm //

      It has always bothered me that the stat for interceptions goes to the QB when the ball gets to the receiver and he doesn’t catch it, drops it, or as you say it is tipped by him. I agree when the QB does his job why does that non-completion stat go against him.

    • If Bet CFL Fan and J.Love understand that not all interceptions and drops are the QB’s fault … do you think it’s possible that coaches, players and other fans understand that as well? The only ones who are fooled will be those who think stats are the be-all and end-all.

    • True Green // July 7, 2018 at 8:14 pm //

      Great ideas.

  3. solara2000 // July 4, 2018 at 11:46 am //

    Agree with the decision to drop the ‘pressure’ stat. The old adage ‘figures lie and liars fire’ seems to have been the case here. Let’s remove any ‘bogus’ stats that really add nothing to the game and/or in fact distort performance.

  4. White Horse // July 4, 2018 at 11:52 am //

    Best CFL Fan…good post. I have the same questions. Especially interceptions off the hands of a receiver.

  5. Coaches should be using game film to evaluate players on a play by play basis and not rely others for stats.

  6. Stampeding // July 4, 2018 at 12:13 pm //

    Perhaps this speaks of something larger. Individual stats don’t matter at all. Team stats do!

  7. This season the play on the field has been terrible, the games have been boring and far too many penalties.
    Football fans at least want their stats.
    Pretty bad when the most excitement in a game is TSN broadcasting a coach getting wrapped up in his head set.

  8. Guarantee that all the teams will still be tracking their own pressure stats, which is probably as it should be, anyway. It’s stuff they look for on film. Just like NHL teams track scoring chances, and view that as more meaningful than SOG stats.

  9. Edward Leslie // July 4, 2018 at 2:56 pm //

    Jeff, I don’t usually agree with you… but you are bang on.
    Most of the games have been long, one sided, penalty filled, snooze fests. I’m very disappointed.

    Dropping pressures is just fine with me. We have too many stats anyway.
    The CFL needs to stop micro managing the game.
    There are way too many reviews and way too many penalties. It kills the momentum of the game.

    Incidental contact penalties or offsides where a player has a finger over the line shouldn’t nullify big plays. It should just result in a 5-yard penalty.

    Bring back exciting, hard hitting, quick paced two and a half hour games please. THAT is the kind of
    football that will attract larger crowds and draw bigger audiences.

    • True Green // July 7, 2018 at 8:17 pm //

      I dont know what it will take to make a change but the penalty calls are excessive and ruin the game. I agree with your ideas.

  10. As I explained in the pre season this was a ridiculous and nonsensical “stat” that was totally subjective.

    It defies logic to celebrate a guy who’s a step or two late getting to the QB.

    Had a good laugh at Rider Fan trying to insist the mediocre Will Jefferson was bound for the NFL based on having 37 or 45 “pressures” last year.

    But when you’ve never had more than EIGHT (8) sacks in your entire career, I suppose you need to reach for anything you can.

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