The Unbearable Lightness of Passing Yards

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Dec 05, 2007



WEEK 12 OVERVIEW
The Unbearable Lightness of Passing Yards was evident once again this week in games across the NFL.
 
Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner, one of the most productive, most highly rated passers in NFL history and two-time league MVP, set a personal record with 484 passing yards against San Francisco Sunday.
 
He lost.
 
Vince Young, meanwhile, has thrown for 257, 305 and 246 yards in his last three games. They're the three best passing totals of his career.
 
He lost all three games.
 
Young's performances are especially notable, because he's 4-1 in his brief career in games in which he's passed for fewer than 100 yards. The lone loss? A 14-13 defeat on the road at eventual Super Bowl champion Indy in his second career NFL start.
 
All of which offers us yet further proof that passing totals are virtually meaningless.
 
Passing Yards Per Attempt mean just about everything.
 
The top three teams in our Power Rankings (NE, Green Bay, Dallas) this week, for example, are also the top three teams in Passing Yards Per Attempt (NE, Dallas, Green Bay).
 
All three are also among the leaders in total passing yards, but this year that's only coincidental. It's more important that all three teams pass the ball more effectively than any other teams in football.
 
The Lions provide us the example we need to prove the point this week. Detroit has generated 3,045 gross passing yards this year – two more than Dallas, but basically statistically dead even.
  • Yet the Cowboys average 7.95 yards every time they step back to pass, No. 2 in the NFL.
  • The Lions average a mere 6.11 yards every time they step back to pass, No. 17 in the NFL.
The net results of the huge differential in passing effectiveness are pretty clear:
  • The Cowboys are 10-1 and rolling to a first-round bye.
  • The Lions are 6-5 and rolling back toward anonymity they've called home for nearly 50 years.
 
2007 PASSING YARDS PER ATTEMPT (through Week 12)
 
Team
Pass Attempts
Pass Yards
Sacked
Lost Yards
Total Attempts
Net Yards
YPA
1
New England
400
3492
13
80
413
3412
8.26
2
Dallas
352
3043
16
118
368
2925
7.95
3
Green Bay
427
3373
14
89
441
3284
7.45
4
Houston
377
2936
16
120
393
2816
7.17
5
Cleveland
365
2758
10
84
375
2674
7.13
6
Denver
348
2646
19
106
367
2540
6.92
7
Indianapolis
381
2830
16
101
397
2729
6.87
8
Cincinnati
418
3076
15
100
433
2976
6.87
9
Arizona
393
2820
17
112
410
2708
6.60
10
Tampa Bay
310
2274
19
103
329
2171
6.60
11
Pittsburgh
294
2394
35
254
329
2140
6.50
12
Jacksonville
305
2237
24
119
329
2118
6.44
13
San Diego
331
2318
13
107
344
2211
6.43
14
Seattle
406
2893
24
138
430
2755
6.41
15
New Orleans
456
2997
8
64
464
2933
6.32
16
Philadelphia
387
2790
32
160
419
2630
6.28
17
Detroit
405
3045
47
282
452
2763
6.11
18
Washington
366
2403
17
96
383
2307
6.02
19
Buffalo
297
2002
23
174
320
1828
5.71
20
Minnesota
280
1900
31
153
311
1747
5.62
21
NY Giants
386
2416
19
149
405
2267
5.60
22
Tennessee
330
2090
20
133
350
1957
5.59
23
Chicago
391
2609
32
247
423
2362
5.58
24
Oakland
309
2091
33
208
342
1883
5.51
25
Kansas City
360
2380
34
219
394
2161
5.48
26
NY Jets
349
2209
29
182
378
2027
5.36
27
Miami
353
2151
21
161
374
1990
5.32
28
Atlanta
373
2319
35
203
408
2116
5.19
29
Carolina
362
2103
24
148
386
1955
5.06
30
St. Louis
400
2463
39
263
439
2200
5.01
31
Baltimore
414
2355
27
198
441
2157
4.89
32
San Francisco
364
1864
37
259
401
1605
4.00

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