NFL Sees Whopping 275 Percent Increase In Quarterback Sneaks

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The NFL is apparently finally waking up to the incredible value of the quarterback sneak.

The New York Times tracked the number of times teams used the sneak over the past few years. And the increase is dramatic.

In 2016, the first year of tracking, teams attempted just 73 quarterback sneaks. That rose to 133 in 2019, 170 in 2020 to 243 in 2021. That jumped up to 291 tries in the 2022 regular season.

Even accounting for the extra regular season game, that’s a 275% increase in quarterback sneak attempts.

Essentially, considering 272 regular season matchups, teams are now trying over one per game.

quarterback sneak
Colts quarterback Matt Ryan. (Getty Images)

Quarterback Sneaks Don’t Always Work

While designed short quarterback runs up the middle are often extremely effective, they’re not always the best idea.

Last season the Giants ran a QB sneak from their own 4-yard line on a 3rd and 9 play. It was about as successful as you’d expect.

But overall, it’s an incredibly difficult play to stop.

The offense generally has a better sense of the timing, and the ball doesn’t have to travel backwards as far to get a few inches or feet.

Even still, the increase is staggering, although not entirely surprising.

Teams are, rightfully, going for fourth down conversions more frequently, especially in short yardage situations.

Quarterback sneaks are often low risk, moderately successful play calls in that situation.

They’ll also likely continue to increase as big, physical QB’s continue to enter the league.


The NFL often moves in trends, and right now, the trend is to let their quarterbacks run the only way they successfully can: by falling forward without fumbling.

Written by Ian Miller

Ian Miller is a former award watching high school actor, ice cream expert and long suffering Dodgers fan. He spends most of his time golfing, eating as much pizza as humanly possible, reading about World War I history, and trying to get the remote back from his dog. Follow him on Twitter.

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