Numbers fascinate me. Their simplicity is often hidden beneath the veil of a name, but today I plan on piercing the veil to point out some rather interesting statistical data from the 2010 season, so strap in for the rapid ride we are gonna take around the NFL.
Tom Brady led NFL QB’s with a 111.0 QB Rating last year. That mark was only the second time in his career that he had posted a mark over 96.2 percent (it was 117.2 in 2007). Philip Rivers, who was second in the league last year at 101.8, has been above 100 in each of the last three years. In fact, last years mark was a three year low (105.5 and 104.4).
Where you aware that Sam Bradford completed 354 passes, 30 more than Brady, 42 more than Aaron Rodgers, and 48 more than Joe Flacco? Moreover Rodgers, pretty much everyone’s top QB this year, has never completed more than 350 passes in a season (2009).
Rivers led the NFL last year with 4,710 yards passing, a mere first down better than Peyton Manning (4,700). That’s eerily similar, though there was a massive difference between the number of times that the duo chucked the rock. Rivers tossed 541 passes last year fully 138 fewer than Manning. As a result, Rivers average yards per attempt of 8.7 yards dwarfed the 6.9 mark of Manning. While Rivers led the league, Manning was behind such luminaries as David Garrard (7.5), Jon Kitna (7.4) and Jason Campbell (7.3).
Three quarterbacks were in the 20′s in interceptions last year: Eli Manning (25), Drew Brees (22) and Carson Palmer (20). All three tossed more interceptions than the touchdown total of Bradford (18), Ben Roethlisberger (17) and Mark Sanchez (17). Speaking of interceptions, only four quarterbacks tossed 25 scores while throwing fewer than 10 interceptions: Brady (36/4), Matt Ryan (28/9), Matt Cassel (27/7) and Joe Flacco (25/6).
Arian Foster averaged 101 yards per game last season on the ground, the best mark in the game. Two others were over 90 per contest, Maurice Jones-Drew (94.6) and Jamaal Charles (91.7), while Darren McFadden was close at 89 yards per outing. Amongst backs who ran for at least 1,000 yards, who had the lowest per game mark? You’d think it would be LeGarrette Blount since he was the low man on the totem poll with 1,007 yards rushing, but that was not the case. Blount only appeared in 13 games leaving him with a 77.5 yards per game mark, beter than Ray Rice who ran for 1,220 yards averaging 76.3 YPG. The lowest mark belongs to BenJarvus Green-Ellis who ran for one more yard than Blount but averaged a mere 63.0 yards per game.
Brandon Jacobs was the only back in the NFL who ran the ball less than 150 times ‚Äď he had 147 carries ‚Äď who scored more than six rushing touchdowns (he had nine). If you want to talk about efficiency though, it’s tough to look past Javarris James who carried the ball 46 times and scored six touchdowns for the Colts. At the other end of the spectrum, guys that got a ton of work but do many end zone boogies, two top-10 runners fit the bill as Ray Rice (307 carries) and MJD (299 carries) both scored only five rushing touchdowns. In terms of a percentage play though, Frank Gore was even worse as he turned his 203 carries with the Niners into three rushing scores. The worst? How about Felix Jones who carried the ball 185 times for the Cowboys and scored one rushing touchdown. No other NFL runner who carried the ball more than 90 times failed to score at least two rushing touchdowns.
Darren McFadden was a beast last year. When he got the ball in space he was hard to bring down. Run DMC caught 47 passes last year and averaged and NFL best 11.9 yards after the catch. Felix Jones was hot on his heels with a mark of 11.8. They were the only two backs over 11 YAC. The two best YAC guys that caught at least 18 passes that we didn’t mention? The Raiders’ Marcel Reece (12.1) and Michael Bush (10.7). Maybe they don’t need any receivers after all in The Black Hole.
The worst numbers that Roddy White has posted the last four years are 83 receptions and 1,153 yards. Vincent Jackson, everyone’s favorite add at the bottom of the WR1 rankings this year, has NEVER had more than 68 catches. Only once has be bettered White’s 4-year low in the yardage category ‚Äď he went for 14 more yards in 2009 (1,167 yards).
The perception out there is that Larry Fitzgerald had a down season in 2010. He did post a four year low with 90 catches, and his 1,137 yards was his second worst mark in four years. He also scored just six times after recording double-digit scores each of the previous three years. OK, the truth is he did have a down season, but only for him. Fitzgerald still ended the campaign with the four most catches in the game while his yardage total was still better than the likes of Calvin Johnson (1,120), DeSean Jackson (1,056), Hakeem Nicks (1,052) and Brandon Marshall (1,014). His total of six scores also matched the mark of Santana Moss, DeSean Jackson, Santonio Holmes and Reggie Wayne. Some down season.
There were only three tight ends who averaged more than 60 yards per game last season, though two of them failed to play a full compliment of games: Antonio Gates (78.2 yards per game, 10 games), Jason Witten (62.6 and 16), Jermichael Finley (60.2 and five). If Finley stays healthy this season, and matches his 60.2 yards per game mark from last season he would produce a season of 963 yards. Chris Cooley, a pretty good pass receiver, has never reached that mark. His career best is 849 yards in 2008. Vernon Davis‘ best mark was 965 in 2009. Dallas Clark has only bettered 850 yards one time (1,106 in 2009). Even the mighty Gates hasn’t been a lock to better 963 yards in a season. In fact, only four times in eight years has he hit that mark.
Gates: 964 yards in 2004, 1,101 yards in 2005, 984 yards in 2007 and 1,157 yards in 2009.
Maybe Finley will end up living up to those expectations, but it would be wise to temper your enthusiasm a bit given the career numbers we just ran through with some of the better tight ends in the game.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87. Ray’s baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account.
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