The passing yardage insanity, in one stat

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Ross Tucker wrote something last week that has stuck in my head since.  Which means it must be true.

“Yards passing [are] quickly becoming the most overrated stat in the NFL,” he wrote.

We couldn’t agree more. This is like the steroid era in baseball, except yards are inflated instead of home runs.  We need to re-calibrate what is truly an exceptional quarterback performance.

300 yards, so long a clean benchmark for a big game, means so much less.

Despite Monday night’s defensive struggle, the NFL notes there have been 33 300-yard games this season.  That’s the most through three weeks of the season ever.

The second highest total through three weeks: 21 games, in 2009.  Small sample size, we know. But the record has been boosted by more than 50%.

Monday night’s game was actually instructive. That was a totally defensive game, with both offenses having serious and consistent problems. Tony Romo and Rex Grossman still topped 250 yards each.

The benchmarks have changed. 300 yards passing in a game just doesn’t signify much.

50 responses to “The passing yardage insanity, in one stat

  1. Agreed. Yardage on its own doesn’t mean much. Yet you guys keep printing that Cam Newton got ripped off for ROTW because he put up so many passing yards. “300 yards passing in a game just doesn’t signify much” and neither does 400 yards if it doesn’t at least result in a W and a passer rating of 110+.

  2. The guy in the picture has a 103.5 passer rating for the season and is 3-0. You should have used Cam Newton instead.

  3. I am sure Fitz appreciates you using the gayest picture of him possible from last week. Nice TMZ style back-hand.

  4. Not that it doesn’t mean much, it just means that, more than ever, the numbers need to be taken in context.

    For example, against GB, Cutler passed for 302 yards. Sounds like a lot, however considering they had zero running game, passing was the only way to go, thus the high number.

    Or GB v NO – Rodgers finished with 300-something yards, but was playing from ahead the entire game. Brees had 400+ but was slinging it from the outset, trying to catch up. If roles were reversed, numbers would be too. It’s all about context.

    So it doesn’t mean the stat is meaningless, just means that, as Tucker said, it’s over-rated compared to what it used to mean and needs to be placed consistently in context.

  5. The Polian Rule needs to go. He has WAY too much influence.

    I think coaches believe that running backs are interchangeable, thus teams have no real running game. It’s just lip service for most teams. Thus, teams pass.

  6. Jason Campbell, Tavaris Jackson, Kerry Collins/Curtis Painter, Blaine Gabbert, Colt McCoy.

    When those guys start routinely topping 300yds, then it’s not a benchmark. So far, with a couple exceptions, it has been the guys that are the class of the league throwing for the yardage and a handful of guys with 2 300+ games apiece. Factor in friendlier QB rules and the best get even better.

  7. Did you ever think that maybe, all this proves is how much more important an offseason training program is for a defense, than an offense?

  8. As long as Alex Smith only has 2, please keep the 300-yd game a meaningful target. I think a shiny star for a 200 yd game would be a nice touch as well.

  9. I want to see a team’s 6 point red zone success. There’s been a ton of passing yardage between the 20’s in a number of games I’ve seen, but some teams have been able to buckle down in the red and hold the opposition to 3, or even forced a turnover the past 3 weeks.

  10. Truly exceptional quarterbacks so far:

    Aaron Rodgers, no question
    Drew Brees, no question
    Matthew Stafford, no question
    Matt Hasslebeck? By all accounts yes!
    Ryan Fitzpatrick? Another yes!

    Tom Brady? Yes, although he flushed a game down the toilet
    Peyton Manning, to a certain extent, just by sitting
    Tony Romo, but not in game 1
    Eli Manning? Wow, what a fine performance so far

  11. With all of the comments people make on here saying how horrible the league is now, please just ask yourself a few questions before posting: Is the game really that bad? Do you really hate it as much as you say you do? Is the game being ruined? Or is it still the best stinking game ever?

  12. offenses take what they are given… Passing moves the ball down the field more quickly than running and if receivers are open all teams will sling it. The reason the numbers are suddenly inflated so much is because of the lockout. The lack of defensive preperation in the offseason is killing the DBs accross the league. it has already started to change. Buffalo picked off Brady 4 times… The Patriots picked of Fitzpatrick twice. Brees thew two picks against houston. DBs are starting to get better week by week. The QBs won’t be able to take the chances they have been so far much longer. back to short passes and running games in the next 2 or 3 weeks.

  13. Totally a result of Miss Goodell’s campaign to pussify the game of football.

    Someone had better get thos clown out of there soon; maybe send him to work somewhere more in line with his character. Possibly a head designer at a facotry that makes little pink babydoll dresses.

    **On a side note, your site is so freaking lame, when it says you are logged in, you write a comment, and then it says you have to be logged in to comment. Very. Freaking. LAME.

  14. joetoronto says:
    Sep 27, 2011 10:53 AM
    Rushing yards are where it’s at, you control the game by running the ball.

    This has never changed.
    Controlling the game, and winning the game are two different things. KC has always been among the best rushing teams in the NFL, and last year they limped into the playoffs. Historically, it’s the balanced teams that win games and go to the playoffs, not the ones stronger at running or passing while being weak at the other.

  15. Controlling the game, and winning the game are two different things. KC has always been among the best rushing teams in the NFL, and last year they limped into the playoffs. Historically, it’s the balanced teams that win games and go to the playoffs, not the ones stronger at running or passing while being weak at the other.


    KC limped into the playoffs after they gave up 120+ rushing yards to the raiders’ backup running back.

  16. Looks like Chan Gailey did well by passing on Gabbert, Locker, Mallett, Kaepernick, Dalton and Ponder. Keeping Fitzpatrick so far looks like a great decision: 72/111 (64.9), 841yds, 9tds, 3int for a 103.5 rating, (3-0).

    Passing over running the ball will only grow as the season continues.

  17. olcap- Are you on a mac? I have issues like that on mine. I can only comment while on Safari. Firefox doesn’t seem to work (on a mac) for some reason.

  18. m2karateman:

    Of course, anything can happen. Is that your point?

    I was obviously talking in a general sense, that’s all you can do.

  19. You guys are just now figuring this out?

    Maybe one day you all will also learn that wins and Super Bowls are team accomplishments and not a good judge of a QB or their performance. 😉

  20. What really needs to change is how Defenses are ranked, currently I believe its by yardage allowed. Who gives a freaky HOOT about yardage allowed?

    Scoring Defense is the only stat that means a damned thing these days.

  21. When a WR and DB have the same right to the football (I realize it’s supposed to be this way, but it’s not) and when today’s QB stops being protected more than the Pope while in his Pope-mobile, passing yards may mean something again.

    300yds passing in ~1995 and before= Spectacular!

    300yds passing in ~1996 until present= A gimme!

  22. The lack of padded practices is your most likely culprit. The only time you can practice tackling and jamming receivers is when you are in pads. The fundamentals are suffering. Too many shoulder tackles at every level of the defence.

  23. bengalsown says:
    Sep 27, 2011 11:14 AM
    Did you ever think that maybe, all this proves is how much more important an offseason training program is for a defense, than an offense?

    NO! It proves that the moron commissioner is getting his wish of high scoring games with no defense. He has (as a few have posted) made football a wuss sport. It belongs to real men, who play real sports and the one in charge shouldn’t be a woman disguised as a man who wants players to wear skirts.

    It’s now off limits to even breath on a QB or a reciever if you are on defense. THAT is why there are so many high scores. And God forbid you try to stop either kind of player. The all mighty GOD-ell will fine you for DOING YOUR JOB! Something he has no clue on how to do.

    Goodell if you want to make a variation of football, be judge, jury and executioner in handing out fines, then go to another country and do it. Stay out of the greatest sport ever in the greatest country ever. Put it back to what it was and stop trying to re-invent the wheel.

  24. Are you happy now, Goodell? You bent over for the TV executives who wanted “better ratings” and destroyed the integrity of the game. Hey, who cares about the fans and players as long as you get that fat bonus. You’re just like those Wall Street and Enron executives who ruined the country in the name of greed.

  25. @cardiovascularendurance

    Nope, on a pc, (actually, I use a few different PCs to access this site), and the problem occurs when you tell it to remember you. It remembers you alright, even when it decides 5 days or a week later, that you have been logged on too long, so it logs you off, but the commenting box is still available, and it even says I am logged on as me, but when I hit the Submit button, that’s when it says I have to log on to make a comment. I’m sure this happens to more than just me, and it’s really frustrating to deal with. That WordPress would have this bug in the software and doesn’t fix it is hard to believe.

  26. golonger says: Sep 27, 2011 2:53 PM

    str8up12 – WRONG……guys in the NFL haven’t tackled for years…..even when practices were tougher!
    You’re right they don’t tackle in practice. BUT I agree with him that lack of padded practices are hurting defenses a lot and to some extent run game. You can’t be tough and physical in a game if you seldom can be physical in practice. The removal of coaches’ decision on when and how often to have padded practices is the single worst result of the new CBA IMO.
    Dungy said flat out that the 2006 improvement in his run defense in the playoffs was due to his being able to put them in pads (and he wasn’t a big padded practice guy IIRC). That will never be allowed to happen again. If the 06 Colts had that rule, no SB for them.

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