You hear announcers say it all the time: “That sack was on the quarterback.”
So which quarterbacks hold on to the ball the most? According to a report by J.J. Cooper of Fanhouse, Joe Flacco was the biggest culprit in terms of self-inflicted sacks in 2010, with Ben Roethlisberger an unsurprising second.
Cooper watched every sack from the 2010 season, and counted how many times the quarterback held the ball longer than three seconds. Granted, this isn’t scientific. But quarterbacks know they have to release the ball in three seconds or they will be toast.
(SI’s Peter King wrote a great column on this topic before the season. The average quarterback releases the ball in 2.4 seconds.)
Flacco led the league with 25 sacks in which he held the ball over three seconds. Flacco needs to get rid of the ball quicker, although we’d argue Baltimore’s slow receivers are a major cause of the problem. The rest of the top five doesn’t contain many surprises: Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler, Michael Vick, and Jason Campbell.
Getting rid of the ball is definitely a skill. Consider that Roethlisberger only took 12 sacks where he held the ball three seconds or less. That’s fewer than Eli Manning and Peyton Manning took.
While Flacco and Roethlisberger took 45 combined sacks where they held the ball for more than three seconds, the Manning brothers only had one apiece.
That’s on the quarterback.