Ryan Mallett was fast with the football.
Though his foot speed might not be much to speak of in an era of increasingly mobile, dual threat quarterbacks, Mallett’s decision making and release in last week’s win over the Cleveland Browns was, statistically, the fastest in the game.
He took, on average, only 2.06 seconds to throw on each of his 30 pass attempts, the best rate this weekend. For perspective, Peyton Manning this season has the best time on the season, releasing every 2.28 seconds for the Denver Broncos.
On Wednesday, head coach Bill O’Brien said Mallett’s ability to get rid of the football quick last week was equal parts play calling and execution.
“For the most part, he did a good job of that,” O’Brien said. “Now there’s plays where he had to drop back and climb the pocket, and in those situations I think for the most part he did a decent job there, too.”
Quarterbacks having quick release times are key for every NFL offense, but it’s a sensitive subject of late for the Houston Texans. Ryan Fitzpatrick this season was average, getting off throws in 2.72 seconds, 18th highest among qualifying quarterbacks. But last season, Matt Schaub and Case Keenum became known for their penchant to hang onto the football. Schaub took 2.83 seconds to throw, 10th most in the NFL and Keenum needed 3.06 seconds, sixth most.
It will be interesting to see if Mallett can maintain his off-the-charts release time. Part of that will fall on O’Brien putting Mallett in good positions with his play calling. Part of that will fall on Mallett, doing the necessary preparations, quickly identifying what defenses are doing, and simply pulling the trigger.
“We do a lot of different things within our passing game,” O’Brien said. “It comes out quick sometimes, sometimes we have to hold it based on the routes and things like that, so it all depends on what the call is.”
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