The play-action pass is dependent on a strong run game to freeze linebackers and safeties in order to hit receivers behind them. So, it's no surprise that the top five play-action quarterbacks play beside some of the best rushers in the game.
Pro Football Focus ranked play-action usage amongst quarterbacks and how their completion percentage changed. Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III leads the NFL by using play action 37.4 percent of the time. The Redskins have the No. 1 run offense in the league as defenses must account for Griffin as a rusher. He is followed by Russell Wilson, Christian Ponder, Cam Newton and Matt Schaub. That's a complement of Marshawn Lynch, Adrian Peterson, the DeAngelo Williams/Jonathan Stewart combo and Arian Foster.
On the flip side, Tony Romo, Jake Locker, Matt Hasselbeck, Andrew Luck and Kevin Kolb round out the bottom of the list. The Dallas Cowboys, Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals all are ranked No. 20 or lower in rushing. You'd expect more from the Cowboys (DeMarco Murray) and Titans (Chris Johnson), but those backs have had pedestrian seasons to date.
Newton has been a much better passer when using play action -- his completion percentage jumps from 50.8 percent to 74.5. Reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers goes in the opposite direction -- 55.3 percent out of play action and 72.3 without.
Luck's percentage improves from 53.0 percent to 57.1. He talked about improving his ball fakes to open more play-action opportunities.
"I think that's something that I need to get better at as well and helps set up the deep balls, the shots if we are running the ball well and can get a good fake in there," Luck said. "If we are running some sort of movement or boot, I think it's imperative to be able to fake the ball well."
Play action gives defenses another tweak to worry about and tests the decision-making of linebackers and safeties. But no one respects it without a legitimate run game.Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.