Each day over the next two weeks we will reveal a Prediction of the Day, where we share an interesting player or team prediction leading into the 2013 NFL season. Rams vs. Falcons, Tampa Bay's defense, Broncos/49ers, Ravens repeat?
Prediction: Sacks and sack rates will skyrocket.
Why it is likely:
The pass play vs. run ratio in the NFL has increased every year for the last decade, which yields a bit of a “no duh” element to the first part of this prediction. As pass plays increase, so do the opportunities for sacks. That being said, sack rates – the percentage of drop backs that result in a sack - also appear to be on the rise. In our offseason analysis 28 of 32 teams gave up a higher sack rate in our projected 2013 than in 2012 (27 of 32 defenses see an increase in sack rate). Rushing the passer is the easiest skill to translate from college to the NFL, while protecting the quarterback is one of the toughest. As the propensity to pass has steadily increased, more offensive coaches have adopted spread and read elements of the college game (which are notorious for leaving quarterbacks exposed) while many defensive coaches have placed significant focus on blitzes designed to confuse and get to the quarterback. Drafting teams have responded by putting premiums on both offensive lineman and pass rushers, but it’s the pass rushers who have the early edge and are most likely to make a big impact in 2013.
It only takes one or two (more) major injuries to high profile quarterbacks for a greater emphasis to be placed on protecting the quarterback at all costs and working in more traditional run plays and offensive schemes.
28 of 32, or 88% of teams see an increase in hits and sacks on the opposing quarterback this fall. They may make the money and win the awards, but this could easily end up being the worst season, physically, to be an NFL quarterback.