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.

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