Fields in Focus Part II: Play Action

| February 15th, 2022

Today is the second of seven articles taking a closer look at Justin Fields’ rookie season, looking at how his performance fared in play action vs. standard dropbacks and also how he performed throwing quick passes as opposed to slow-developing plays. All stats are from Pro Football Focus (PFF) unless otherwise noted.

Play Action

Let’s start by looking at how Justin Fields did on play-action dropbacks compared to standard passing plays. Before I present the full data, I want to briefly explain two PFF stats that will be used:

  • Big Time Throw: these are best described as a pass with excellent ball location and timing, generally thrown further down the field and/or into a tighter window. In other words, these are really good, difficult passes that should result in highly valuable big plays. A higher % here is better.
  • Turnover Worthy Play: These include fumbles in the pocket, interceptions thrown, and interceptable passes that were not caught. A lower % here is better.

Both of these stats will admittedly have some subjectivity inherent, but they provide a useful glimpse into how frequently a QB makes a really good play vs. a really bad one.

The table below shows how Fields performed in a wide variety of statistics in play action (blue) vs. other dropbacks (orange), and also includes Fields’ rank out of 39 total NFL QBs who had at least 20% of the pass attempts of the NFL leader. Information on the spread of all NFL QBs is also provided for each stat. Cells highlighted in green indicate Fields was among the top 10 QBs in this category, while those in red indicate Fields was in the bottom 10 QBs.

A few thoughts:

  • Fields’ accuracy and completion percentage were very poor in both samples, but that is to be expected given his accuracy issues, which we looked at in part one of this series. Relatively speaking, he was a little better in play action than out of play action here.
  • We also see consistency in Fields pushing the ball down the field regardless of the play time. His average pass was the 3rd deepest in regular passes and the deepest on play action. This is also expected given what we’ve already looked at. Fields likes to go deep.

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