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Matt Ryan gaining yardage at a rate unseen in half a century

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 9:  Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons throws a touchdown pass in the third quarter of the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

Over the course of NFL history, the passing game has evolved from longer, higher-risk passes to shorter, more accurate passes, and as a result the quarterbacks who averaged the greatest yards per pass in the 1950s haven’t seen their records threatened by modern quarterbacks. Until now.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is, through five games, averaging an astonishing 10.4 yards per pass this season. That’s a rate we haven’t seen in the NFL in more than half a century.

No quarterback has averaged 10 yards a pass in a season since Norm Van Brocklin averaged 10.1 yards a pass with the 1954 Los Angeles Rams. Kurt Warner threatened to reach double-digits in yards per pass in 2000, when he averaged 9.9 yards a pass for the season with the St. Louis Rams, but since then the closest anyone has come was Aaron Rodgers, who averaged 9.2 yards a pass with the 2011 Packers.

Whether Ryan can continue at this rate remains to be seen, but at the moment he’s gaining yardage at a rate far ahead of any other quarterback. Ryan leads the league with 1,740 passing yards, and his average of 10.4 yards a pass is almost two full yards ahead of Philip Rivers, who is second among quarterbacks with at least 50 passes, at 8.5 yards a pass.

After three straight disappointing seasons in Atlanta, the Falcons are in first place in the NFC South, and Ryan is off to by far the best season of his career.

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42 Responses to “Matt Ryan gaining yardage at a rate unseen in half a century”
  1. minson15 says: Oct 13, 2016 10:41 AM

    But this week he plays the Seahawks and their defense is playing lights out. So we will see if his streak continues. Good luck!

  2. scrp2 says: Oct 13, 2016 10:41 AM

    Wait, are you telling me the Falcons aren’t going to go on a 9 game losing streak?

  3. dino2997 says: Oct 13, 2016 10:43 AM

    All well and good, but Ryan needs to keep winning games and actually make the playoffs and win some playoff games or his career will be marked as being just an average QB.

  4. seatownballers says: Oct 13, 2016 10:48 AM

    Playing in Seattle will bring those numbers down.
    Hawks win
    28-20

  5. profootball13 says: Oct 13, 2016 10:49 AM

    Big Problem this week.

    GO HAWKS!

  6. dougchillin says: Oct 13, 2016 10:49 AM

    Great start for Matty Ice. Reminds me of the Falcons big start last year. Lets all wait and see how the rest of the season goes here because we all know how quick things can turn.

  7. I_Just_Like_Typing_Comments_That_Wont_Get_Published says: Oct 13, 2016 10:50 AM

    Hmmm, the people on here believe that Tom Brady sucks because he throws a dozen short passes as he dissects a defense on a TD drive. So this must mean Matt Ryan is the greatest of all time, right?

  8. mmack66 says: Oct 13, 2016 10:52 AM

    Is that in the air, or YAC? The distinction is important to some bozos.

  9. whenwilliteverend says: Oct 13, 2016 10:58 AM

    Let’s not forget….the Falcons started off 5-0 last year then only won three of their next nine. This is about like someone who is batting .400 in April.

  10. Lemmy Aksyadis says: Oct 13, 2016 10:59 AM

    OK, we get that in some places bigger is better but who cares about this? It’s an ego thing, nothing more. It’s one of teh dumbest concepts that a QB has to make long throws to be good.

    The ONLY stat that really matters is wins. Last I checked you get no style points for distance in football.

  11. In Teddy We Trust says: Oct 13, 2016 11:01 AM

    Rodgers used to have a really high yards per attempt every year, but since the beginning of last year he’s at 6.6. This is the main reason why he just doesn’t look the same.

  12. agent7g says: Oct 13, 2016 11:04 AM

    The difference is that Freeman and Coleman are racking up huge yards receiving as RBs. I’m not sure The Falcons can keep it up but LBs are not fast enough to cover either of those guys and if they do Tamme and Hooper have made plays too. Also Julio. He’s above average.

  13. mmack66 says: Oct 13, 2016 11:06 AM

    In Teddy We Trust says:
    Oct 13, 2016 11:01 AM

    Rodgers used to have a really high yards per attempt every year, but since the beginning of last year he’s at 6.6. This is the main reason why he just doesn’t look the same.
    ————————

    Maybe it’s because he lost his #1 receiver last season. How is he doing this season?

  14. jchipwood says: Oct 13, 2016 11:22 AM

    mmack66 says:
    Oct 13, 2016 10:52 AM
    Is that in the air, or YAC? The distinction is important to some bozos.
    ________________________________________

    Everyone knows Brady can’t throw a ball farther than 10 yards past line of scrimmage but that’s definitely not a problem for Matt Ryan.

  15. insightfulcomments says: Oct 13, 2016 11:32 AM

    “Maybe it’s because he lost his #1 receiver last season. How is he doing this season?”

    Thanks for asking. After finishing 31st in yards/attempt last year, Erin is at 6.3 yards/attempt this year ahead of only three players, Blaine Gabbert, Joe Flacco and Brock Osweiler. His 56% completion percentage trails all of them though and is dead last in the NFL.

    By the way, Norm Van Brocklin from… South Dakota.

  16. jchipwood says: Oct 13, 2016 11:36 AM

    mmack66 says:
    Oct 13, 2016 11:06 AM
    In Teddy We Trust says:
    Oct 13, 2016 11:01 AM

    Rodgers used to have a really high yards per attempt every year, but since the beginning of last year he’s at 6.6. This is the main reason why he just doesn’t look the same.
    ————————

    Maybe it’s because he lost his #1 receiver last season. How is he doing this season?
    _______________________________________

    Are you saying that a qb without his #1 receiver is not as good as when he does have his #1 receiver? SHOCKER. Thanks for the information.

  17. TB12RALLYCRY says: Oct 13, 2016 11:38 AM

    doesnt matter ……Brady will be your MVP , on a 12 game schedule…………mark it down

  18. 52crabcakes says: Oct 13, 2016 11:48 AM

    so what has he won?

  19. joetoronto says: Oct 13, 2016 11:49 AM

    His numbers will straighten out, it’s just a matter of time.

  20. nhpats says: Oct 13, 2016 11:50 AM

    jchipwood says:
    Oct 13, 2016 11:22 AM
    mmack66 says:
    Oct 13, 2016 10:52 AM
    Is that in the air, or YAC? The distinction is important to some bozos.
    ________________________________________

    Everyone knows Brady can’t throw a ball farther than 10 yards past line of scrimmage but that’s definitely not a problem for Matt Ryan.

    ————-

    I guess “everyone” must have missed last week’s game where Brady connected on numerous bombs….. Or perhaps only “you” believe this…..or perhaps you are thinking of Ryan Tannehill….

  21. roddoliver says: Oct 13, 2016 12:02 PM

    Remember when Roddy White said Kyle Shanahan was the problem? Oh…

  22. tyelee says: Oct 13, 2016 12:12 PM

    Sometimes you just have to be amazed at people who believe that you are your past or rather have the mindset that doesn’t think people can grow, learn from their mistakes, be better today than yesterday…

    I get the hesitation because of the collapse last year but it doesn’t mean they will repeat the same pattern…

    The panthers have won the division 3 years in a row, NOW look at them…
    The bucs have been in the basement of that division for 4 straight years… OK, that one is a bad example but some teams do improve from one season to the next!

  23. mogogo1 says: Oct 13, 2016 12:28 PM

    It’s like all of Cam’s magic from last year packed up and moved on to Matt Ryan.

  24. arcross12042004scorp15 says: Oct 13, 2016 12:33 PM

    The YAC can also be deceptive. A good QB such as Joe Montana used lead his receivers so they didn’t have to break stride
    Others who throw rainbow/ jumpballs do not contribute to YAC..

  25. steviaquinn says: Oct 13, 2016 12:36 PM

    Falcons on the road across country against another great defense. looking at their schedule this year I was saying they would be lucky to be 8-8 this year and would probably be 1-4 right now.

    If they beat Seattle on the road after dominating Denver on the road, they would have to be favorites to win the NFC. Too many weapons and this year they are not making mistakes.

  26. beckzhere says: Oct 13, 2016 12:42 PM

    Whether he keeps up this pace or not, it’s still a lot of fun to watch.

  27. veddermn8 says: Oct 13, 2016 12:42 PM

    jchipwood says:
    Oct 13, 2016 11:22 AM

    mmack66 says:
    Oct 13, 2016 10:52 AM
    Is that in the air, or YAC? The distinction is important to some bozos.
    ________________________________________

    Everyone knows Brady can’t throw a ball farther than 10 yards past line of scrimmage but that’s definitely not a problem for Matt Ryan.
    ………………….

    Not last week it wasn’t. Brady was chucking it. Hogan, Bennett and Gronk all caught long passes.

  28. bryonneufeld says: Oct 13, 2016 12:47 PM

    Average yards per pass attempt is an important stat for the QB regardless of whether it came in the air or in YAC. Most likely it comes as some combination of the two.

    PFM was averaging 8+ yards per attempt for many years on short passes that were very accurate and kept his receivers in stride combined with high completion percentage.

    If it was easy to average 10 yards per attempt on short passes every team would do it.

  29. manningtothomas says: Oct 13, 2016 12:49 PM

    Averaging over 10 yards per attempt is impressive but it’s still only 5 games. It is a nice 5 game start by Ryan with 1740 yards, 12 TDs and only 2 INTs. But let’s not pretend this isn’t something we haven’t seen since the beginning of time. In 2013, some guy named Peyton Manning threw for 1884 yards, 20 TDs and only 1 INT through his first five games. While it is impressive that Ryan is averaging 348 yards and 2.4 TDs through 5 games, Manning averaged 342 yards to go along with 3.4 TDs per game for the entire 2013 season.

  30. mindthegap says: Oct 13, 2016 12:52 PM

    Everyone keeps saying “but they haven’t seen Seattle’s Defense.” While logistically true, Atlanta shredded Carolina who had the #3 defense at the time and they beat up Denver’s D which was #1. Atlanta can beat a D many different ways. They have so much talent and are so versatile. The game plans between Denver and Carolina demonstrate that. You can take some part of that offense away but you can’t take all of it. New Orleans and Denver took away Julio- how’d that work out for them. Carolina took away the run game- how’d that work out for them?

  31. youguysarehugeidiots says: Oct 13, 2016 12:52 PM

    During Warner’s 9.9 YPA season, he started the first 5 games (same that we’ve seen out of Ryan so far) averaging 11.8 YPA.

    So this is, in fact, a rate we have seen within the last half century.

  32. charger646464 says: Oct 13, 2016 12:55 PM

    Shanahan knew Rody Whites days were behind him.He got no support by anyone in the organization. Even Koetter or Robiske would not sign him. They had him sitting in a suite the first game of the year and the cameras were on him. This was a set up against Shanahan. If I was Shanahan I would leave the organization at the end of the year. The Falcons lack depth on both sides of the ball. If they get people hurt like last year they have no chance to win! Probably the best coached team on offense and defense in the NFL. Remember they lost all 4 inside LB’s against Denver and still won! How often does a team lose all 4 inside LB’s and still win?

  33. dlb4180 says: Oct 13, 2016 1:24 PM

    It should read Julio Jones Makes QB Ryan Look Better than he is.

  34. JSpicoli says: Oct 13, 2016 1:48 PM

    Well, he must be the GOAT then. Right statnerds?

  35. weepingjebus says: Oct 13, 2016 2:10 PM

    According to BSPN, he now has the second highest Total QBR in league history, right behind a guy that played 3 games in 1964 but managed to throw a ball through a flaming hoop while driving a motorcyle.

  36. smalltownqb says: Oct 13, 2016 2:20 PM

    If you are watching the Falcons games it is super obvious they are hitting in all cylinders.

    – Worried Panthers Fan

  37. wiscoregon says: Oct 13, 2016 2:34 PM

    Leave it to the Vikings fans to bring up the Packers on a thread not even remotely about them. Commenting on every thread now that they have seen 5 games of success. Spare us please.

  38. heymister24 says: Oct 13, 2016 2:59 PM

    Kyle Shanahan for HC of Cleve Browns!

  39. codythao35 says: Oct 13, 2016 3:44 PM

    Youu mean little Erin who chokes in every big game was trying for it? Not even close, he stinks that’s why Olivia Munn dumped him.

  40. Lemmy Aksyadis says: Oct 13, 2016 4:04 PM

    I remember a guy named Darryl Lamonica. He’s handle was “the mad bomber”. He won, well he never really won anything. But DAMN, he could throw a long way!

    You can have you’re bombers, I’ll take Brady every time. You’ll have highlights, I’ll have Lombardis.

  41. purplepackerhater says: Oct 13, 2016 4:11 PM

    Can’t wait for the vikes and falcons to meet in the NFCCG. Revenge been sitting, waiting COLD and HARD for 18 years.

  42. LoCoSu@%s says: Oct 13, 2016 4:13 PM

    I am not being political, but Seahawk fans sound like
    Trump-ets with their shrill GO HAWKS

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