NFL passing numbers are way, way up

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At one point in the life cycle of this media outlet, we’d periodically keep track of which quarterbacks were on the wrong side of the Kordoza Line — the career 70.7 passer rating of mostly-mediocre-with-flashes-of-really-good quarterback Kordell Stewart. Times have definitely changed.

This year, only one full-time starter is on the wrong side of the Kordoza Line: Bills rookie quarterback Josh Allen, who has a passer rating of 60.4. That’s because plenty of quarterbacks are throwing the ball better than ever before.

According to the NFL, the average passer rating currently is 93.4. (From 2002 through 2017, the average passer rating was 84.2.) Average completion percentage has moved to 65.0, and yards per attempt have spiked to 7.5.

Total yardage is up as well. From 1966 through 2017, the league saw 300-yard passing performances once every 3.8 games. This year, the average has fallen to once ever 1.4 games, with 57 300-yard performances in 78 games.

Eleven quarterbacks already have more than 1,500 passing yards. Six have thrown at least 12 touchdown passes through five weeks.

Ten starting quarterbacks has passer ratings higher than 100, with Saints quarterback Drew Brees racking up an eye-popping 122.3. Perhaps the best news for the NFL is that eight of those 10 are 30 or younger, with three of them 24 or younger.

That bodes very well for a future consisting of quality quarterbacks and, in turn, quality games. That’s why the NFL is trying to keep all quarterbacks healthy. If the guy who is responsible for distributing the football can continue to do it at a high level, fans will be far more interested in pro football.

 

88 responses to “NFL passing numbers are way, way up

  1. The NFL was better before they started neutering defense. Put an asterisk next to all these inflated records, cause people who actually understand the game know these numbers are meaningless.

  2. Well, if I was a young player, I’d refuse to play defense because all the rules protect offensive players. So all the talent ends up on one side of the ball. It’s not rocket science.

  3. By design. Yeah we get it. No touching the quarterback, phantom interference calls mitigating the risk of passing, etc.

  4. Keep adjusting the rules to favor the QB and you will see 500 yard passing games become the norm.

    There is no defense anymore. What did you expect? The QB’s aren’t better, the rules make it easier to excel.

  5. Gee, I wonder if that has anything to do with the ludicrous revised roughing the passer penalties and the slow painful descent of the NFL into flag football?

  6. The shame of it is that someone is getting paid to figure this out. A blind man can tell you it’s because a receiver and QB can’t get touched. Our school yard football games on concrete were rougher then the garbage they put out now.

  7. They are turning the game into “madden” I don’t know about you but I love a defensive game. Always hated arena football games 67-65, not my cup of tea.

  8. Can’t wait until the Arena one player moving towards the line of scrimmage rule is implemented. That’ll really help my fantasy teams do better.

    Seriously though the most talented players were always on the offensive side. It’s why we’ve never seen a 6’5 corner back for example. The issue isn’t that the offense is more physically talented it’s just the rules protecting QB and WR like everyone else has said.

  9. NFL football is no longer comparable to a live chess game – it is more of a video game consisting of a series of blinking lights.

    Madden football game to entertain a generation of video gamers.

  10. JoeMontana16 gets my vote. Love some of these QBs. But seriously can you really compare a today’s QB with those that actually had to play against a Defense? No.

    Oh wait, maybe in New England. Because everything is always the GOAT.

    Play against teams like the 85 Bears.

  11. “That bodes very well for a future consisting of quality quarterbacks and, in turn, quality games.”

    Video game scores do not mean “quality games”. This is all about feeding the fantasy football geeks and fantasy gambling, nothing more nothing less.

    Its ruining the game. Might as well put 11 tackling dummies on the field for defense. I would much rather see lower scoring games where defenders are allowed to play actual defense.

  12. Congrats to Brees on breaking the record! The game has changed and it’s a pass happy league.

    For some of the people who use their imagination to form opinions that are far from the truth, Brees does not play the entire season indoors!

    Brees has a 69% career completion percentage in dome games.
    He has a 66% career completion percentage outdoors.

    110.7% QB Rating indoors
    95.7% QB Rating outdoors

    Yes, Brees has a higher QB Rating indoors but the other franchise QB’s that have started for 3 years in the league in the past 20 years have a 25.7% higher Rating indoors vs outdoors.

    Brees is 6 ft on his tippy toes. He doesn’t have to win 4, 5, 6 Super Bowls to be the greatest QB of all time! Overcoming adversity and studying the stats says one thing, Brees is the greatest QB of all time!!!

  13. This just proves that you can take any stat and twist it to your liking. In this case, its used to “prove” the quality of current qb’s, when in reality its more of an indication how current flag football rules can make mediocre QB’s good, and good ones great. Take todays starting qb’s and put them to anytime prior to about 1990, and you would see just how good they are. I dare say less than a handful would do anywhere near as well.

  14. I think it’s a flase assumption to say passing numbers are up means QBs are better. Passing numbers are up because it’s a passing league with a myriad of penalties to help the QBs and WRs.

  15. joemontanafootball16 says:
    October 9, 2018 at 8:15 pm
    The NFL was better before they started neutering defense. Put an asterisk next to all these inflated records, cause people who actually understand the game know these numbers are meaningless.
    ————
    Totally agree. The NFL is looking to hook the non-football fan (my mom is a good example) and they feel the only way is to allow the offenses to score at will. This isn’t football. Unfortunately we diehards will likely keep sticking around despite this and I’m afraid the old NFL is gone forever. I’d rather watch a 17-13 game than 45-40 any day.

  16. Im a Vikes fan…that roughing the passer call against Bennet was beyond ridiculous. Did it help my team? Yep. Should it have been called. Nope. So friggn lame that the last vestage of defense, the d line pressure, is being attacked. I thought it was lame when they started calling the brush of a defwnsive finger on the head of the QB a penalty. Thank God the NHL season is in full swing. At least I have an escape when the NFL finally out games themselves.

  17. Who_is_Mike_Jones

    You had me until you said Brees is the GOAT. Just because a guy’s small and awesome doesn’t make him the GOAT. You don’t want Mayweather in a boxing match for example because he’s “pound for pound the greatest boxer of his age”. You want one of the great heavyweights because they turn him inside out. Pound for pound is a way to say someone’s better than they are despite reasons they have no control over.

  18. Brees = 66-61 on the road. Basically, he’s Kyle Orton when not playing in an air conditioned room.

  19. Pretty sure most fans won’t be interested. Some element of defence needs to be present, otherwise it actually gets boring watching teams march up and down the field. I also suspect there could be more blowout victory games. Who wants to watch those?

  20. They should just make the NFL 7-on-7 flag football. The defense can’t do anything without getting called for a penalty and the offensive players are allowed to do things that the defense gets penalized for. You can’t touch the QB without getting flagged for a penalty. It might as well be the Arena League.

  21. It’s like the NFL is regressing to some live version of Madden 96 where nothing but passing plays we’re King because getting sacked was nearly impossible.

  22. TruFBFan says:
    October 9, 2018 at 8:34 pm
    JoeMontana16 gets my vote. Love some of these QBs. But seriously can you really compare a today’s QB with those that actually had to play against a Defense? No
    __________
    You cant compare the stats but you certainly can compare the QBs. Have to assume that the QBs of the past would be good enough to adjust to todays rules and todays QBs would certainly be able to adjust and play by the former rules.

  23. This article is exhibit A of why Garrett and Linehan are clueless.

    They made passing ever more “easy” by the rules this year, and instead they receded even further into their turtle shells and kept it simple with a basic goal line offense. All. Game.

    Cowboys have great performance in spread passing situations and are a train wreck in the 2-3 TE sets/etc, yet they plunge further and further into the comfortable, safe blanket of an uber conservative offense. Maybe the coaches are just doing all they can to SAVE their jobs – by creating an offense where all the blame gets placed on the players?

  24. Fans of real football desperately need an alternative to the NFL. Perhaps Trump can start a football league after he leaves office.

  25. Roger Staubach retired with an 83.4 passer rating. At the time it was the HIGHEST QB RATING OF ANY QUARTERBACK from the 60s or 70s.

    Hall Of Famer. Two Super Bowl Rings. He’d be on the bench now with those “sad” numbers.

  26. Cracks me up when the talking heads mention any coach and how they all want to run first. Then they throw the ball 60 times….

  27. This is why you need to blitz a QB right when the game starts. Once a QB has been broken mentally they start making mistakes. Pass rushers are a premium. Just look at the Bears defense now compared to last year.

  28. The Jalen Ramsey’s of the NFL are an endangered species.

    Soon … it will be just like homerun derby.

  29. Of course it’s by design.

    There is way more money in the pockets of ‘Fringe Fans’ than in the pockets of “hardcore fans” as there are so many more of them.

    “Fringe Fans” want scoring and yardage, not defense.

    As do fantasy league players – who’ll watch a blowout to see if their guys score for them.

    The NFL is an entertainment product that is fueled by ad dollars.

    Points and yardage = viewership.

    Viewership = ad dollars.

    Game over.

    Literally.

  30. Mr. Florio you must have been a huge fan of arena football, and the CFL. Football today is geared toward fantasy because its too big a payday for the league to ignore. More points, more yards more fantasy football. Watching the game today is like when the baseball was juiced. Strikeout or homerun. NFL records will mean nothing because receivers can run across the middle without fear, and QB’s can stand in the pocket with no fear. What the QB’s did in the 50’s-80s is way more impressive than what QBs are doing today. Receivers are open by 5-8 yards. Put up a poll and see how many people prefer the pinball numbers being put up compared to actual defense. Oh wait no need for that, most of the comments shows we prefer some defense with our football.

  31. Between all the illegal contact, pass interference, downright absurd roughing the passer, and utter lack of holding calls on the oline, defenses literally have no chance in this league. I really feel bad for pass rushers, CBs, and offense coordinators…you can see the hopelessness on their faces during games.

    At this point the NFL might as well just throw offenses out on the field unopposed. Just let all these spoiled, middling QBs go up against thin air. That’s what the owners want right?

  32. 9 qb’s are on pace to throw for 5000 yards, if I’m not mistaken. It’s only been done 9 times in NFL history. 5 of those 9 seasons belong to Brees.

  33. “See, giving up 40 points a game is normal now. I’m just contributing to what the league wants in today’s game.”.

    Sincerely,

    Mike Smith
    Bucs “Defensive” Coordinator

  34. snobberknocker says:
    October 9, 2018 at 9:20 pm
    Basketball on Grass. That’s what the owners have turned it into.
    _________________
    Have you not watched basketball recently? There’s far more defense there than in any football game. Any given lay-up would lead to a roughing the passer call in today’s NFL.

  35. 1. Passing stats have just been generally elevated in the last 20 years by rule changes.
    2. More teams are more frequently using passes as an extension of and replacement for the running game: all types of screens, RPOs, etc..
    3. For the first time in a long time, no team truly has bad QB situation (except the Niners with Garoppolo out) when usually a handful of teams do.

    Those are the major reasons why the QB numbers are so high.

  36. The NFL is a glorified Arena League game now. Tackle football is now Push football. Soon to be flag football. Goddell has destroyed the sport.

  37. Ya, The NFL is a great show.
    But it occurred to me recently that I have been expecting a flag on every play while watching my teams games for a few years now.
    And I do mean EVERY freakin play.

    Thumbs up if you do for your games too:

  38. Stats can be made to order. You are comparing the average stats from 1966-2017, against the first 5 weeks of this season. It’s been trending up pretty dramatically the last few years.

  39. The NFL’s definition of a defenseless receiver borders on ridiculous. If a guy goes up to catch a pass, he is by the NFL definition defenseless, and defensive backs cannot hit him without being penalized 15 yards.

  40. Except for the Bills who even with the rules favoring the offense can’t even get 100 yards passing.
    ———————————————-

    They also got a W in a game where the defense stifled their opponent (zero touchdowns), played nearly penalty free football, and got 3 turnovers. The game was over before 4 pm. Allen is a victim of stone handed receivers who must eat butter and grease pigs before games.

  41. Maybe this has something to do with the NFL basically banning defense. Why run the ball when you’ll get a nice fat DPI called, and the flags stay in the refs pockets on 95% of obvious push offs by the offense?

    Look at the QB? 15 yards, roughing

  42. That’s because plenty of quarterbacks are throwing the ball better than ever before.
    ================================================

    No, they are not throwing the ball better than before. They can hardly be sacked nowadays. The receivers can hardly be touched. Dan Marino had a 59.4% completion ratio. Let this new generation play under his rules.

  43. “That bodes very well for a future consisting of quality quarterbacks and, in turn, quality games. That’s why the NFL is trying to keep all quarterbacks healthy. If the guy who is responsible for distributing the football can continue to do it at a high level, fans will be far more interested in pro football.”

    Couldn’t disagree more… If we wanted non-stop offense and 60-48 games we would have embraced the Arena Football League. I am all for protecting the QB (and all players by the way) but NOT at the expense of the game. Football was born from a contact sport and shot to America’s favorite sport with decades of hard hitting and thrilling plays. Making the QB untouchable pushes the game too far off-tilter. You will see a decline in the sport if this continues.

  44. This doesnt “bode well” for anything having to do with “quarterback quality.”

    The NFL made the game much much much easier for QB. So of course they are doing better as a whole.

  45. Im not sure why teams are even bothering drafting high or spending a ton for defense these days. Be mediocre on D and AWESOME on O. The league rules are killing good defenses.

  46. It’s getting boring with the onslaught of offense. Take the gloves off the players for one week and you will see a different game. No more rearing back and throwing a 8 yard bullet (because the ball simply sticks to the gloves). QB’s would have to have touch.

  47. Tons of unearned first downs handed out after failed 3rd and longs help offenses get into a rhythm. You get a first down. You get a first down. First downs for everyone.

  48. We don’t have more “quality quarterbacks.” We have less pressure on the passers due to changes in rules that make it harder to hit/pressure the passer.

  49. omeimontis says: “The NFL’s definition of a defenseless receiver borders on ridiculous. If a guy goes up to catch a pass, he is by the NFL definition defenseless, and defensive backs cannot hit him without being penalized 15 yards.”
    =================================

    There’s a revolutionary defensive technique called “Wrap and Tackle”. Perfectly legal. Taught by most great coaches.

  50. We’ll see a 6000 yard passing season in the next couple of years and 7000 yard season within 10 years.

  51. It’s like playing a video game on Easy. Go on youtube and watch the classics where the QB’s were actually challenged

  52. The best comparison I can think of for today’s QB’s are Sosa and McGuire hitting 70+ home runs in a season. These stats shouldn’t be considered or at least have an asterisk when comparing QB’s of today to yesteryears. They get to sit in the pocket for 5-7 seconds while their offensive linemen hold, if a DB gets within 2 yards of a WR there’s a penalty and heaven forbid a D lineman or LB gets within an arms length of the girls in skirts throwing the football. Soon, teams will be forced to forfeit the game if their defensive players touch the QB.

  53. Offense and rules are half the equation. The other half is coaches and players going with bend then break defense. It is like college football. Every week I watch cornerbacks especially but also linebacker and safeties watch the receiver catch the football then cuddle them or just miss the tackle. Reed, Lewis, Dawkins, Polamalu, Champ Bailey, Chris McAlister, Zach Thomas, Jason Taylor would get in offensive players face and take risks. Todays defensive players are robots. The game is becoming more and more boring even if the quarterbacks are better. People liked the struggle in football which is almost dead. The more entertaining defensive players like Clay, Suggs, Peppers are leftovers and past their prime. Marcus Peters is about the most entertaining defender now playing. Holding on the offensive lines on pass plays is also rampant

  54. Don’t feed us a line. This isn’t quality, these are just numbers that are inflated due to rule changes.

  55. akira1971 says:
    October 10, 2018 at 9:32 am
    omeimontis says: “The NFL’s definition of a defenseless receiver borders on ridiculous. If a guy goes up to catch a pass, he is by the NFL definition defenseless, and defensive backs cannot hit him without being penalized 15 yards.”
    =================================

    There’s a revolutionary defensive technique called “Wrap and Tackle”. Perfectly legal. Taught by most great coaches.

    —————————————————————-

    I believe I’ve seen that earlier this season by Clay Matthews. Unfortunately, that also was flagged.

  56. Protecting them to this point is making the game unwatchable. Once a Super Bowl or AFC/NFC championship is decided on a ticky tack, maybe there was, or maybe there wasn’t intent personal foul people will stop watching.

    Yes the QBs sell the league I get that, but they also get paid a metric S*** of money to play a contact sport. Rules like the Rodgers rule or even the Brady are a joke. There was no intent on either of those plays, and even the Rodgers rule. He only broke is collarbone cause he tried to brace himself by putting his arm out. If he had just tucked it in he would have been sore for sure and maybe missed a week or two, but wouldn’t have been out essentially the season.

  57. They should be up since you give the offense second chances with all the flags you throw on the defense. You have the defenses playing with 1 arm tied behind there backs. I’m tired of it.

  58. I’d much rather see a high scoring action packed game instead of a field goal contest! If you want to watch kicking go watch soccer!

  59. One day there will be a 6000 yard passer. That will be the moment that NFL fans will lose the rest of their interest and just watch basketball.

  60. my suggestion would be to keep pass interference when the ball is in the air but get rid of the 5 yard illegal contact rule….make WRs fight harder to get separation. And for god’s sake unless it’s helmet to helmet or 2 steps after the throw stop calling roughing the passer.

  61. Yeah while Goddell is in Manhattan laughing in a evil fashion about making a more marketable game, while using the concussion and safety issues as a cover.

    Football gods rollling over in there graves based on the lack of pure football in the worlds best league.

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