The magic is missing from NFL passing yardage

Matt Ryan photo courtesy of USA Today
Rick Gosselin

Those 300-yard passing games have long been a measuring stick for NFL quarterbacks.

Maybe it’s time we found a new measuring stick. Passing yards no longer translate into victories. Not in the last two seasons anyway.

The NFL doesn’t keep records for 100- or 200-yards passing in a game. But when a quarterback throws for 300 or 400 yards in a game, the computers on Park Avenue start whirring. The NFL lists in its record book marks for most 300- and 400-yard passing games in both a season and a career. Get your name on that list and you are considered elite – Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Dan Marino, Joe Montana, Brett Favre…

As recently as 2014, those big passing days mattered. That season there were 122 300-yard passing games and those quarterbacks won 57.7 percent of the time.

But last season there were 132 300-yard passing games in the NFL. The combined record of those 300-yard passers was sub-.500 – 64-66-2. And if you subtracted NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes’ 8-2 mark, those 300-yard passers won a paltry 46.7 percent of their games.

It’s more of the same in 2019. Subtract the 4-0 mark of Mahomes and NFL passers are again under .500 for the season at 16-17-2.

Mahomes is clearly an exception – just as Marino was an exception in the 1980s, Favre was an exception in the 1990s and Manning an exception in the 2000s. There’s Mahomes…and then there are the rest. And the rest have been struggling.

Jared Goff passed for 517 yards last week against the Buccaneers. His Rams lost. Aaron Rodgers passed for 422 yards against the Eagles. His Packers also lost. So did the Bengals when Andy Dalton threw for 418 yards on opening day and the Seahawks when Russell Wilson threw for 406 yards against the Saints in Week 3. Former NFL MVP Matt Ryan has passed for 300 yards in all four games this season but his Atlanta Falcons are 1-3 to show for his arm.

The receivers at the other end of those 300-yard passing games have also been struggling. In 2014, there were 208 100-yard receivers, helping their teams win 58.8 percent of the games. This season, the 56 100-yard receivers have also posted a sub-.500 record – 30-33-3.

Maybe defenses have finally caught up with the offenses. Or maybe it’s just too early in the season to get a true read. But know this -- the forward pass isn’t going away any time soon…and yards will always be a measuring stick for passers. But not necessarily for quarterbacks. There is more to playing quarterback than throwing the football -- as we witnessed in the month of September.

Comments (1)
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ReputationAndCrisis
ReputationAndCrisis

Really insightful article. Enjoyed learning.


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