Are we sure Jameis Winston isn't just a howitzer modified to fire footballs?
Every so often we like to check in on a stat we call Actual Passing Yards (APY). While we acknowledge this isn't true distance the ball travel through the air (that stat wouldn't tell us anything that APY doesn't), it is a great way to look at who does more work; the QB's arm or the wide-out's legs.
We break this stat down two ways. First we look at the net APY, which is just Passing Yards minus yards after catch. The second way we break APY paints a more interesting picture. We look at what percentage of a team's yards from just the pass, and not the yards after the catch. In other words, how many yards come from the QB. This is a great proxy for looking at how teams operate their passing game. The dink and dunk style offenses of the Patriots and Chiefs becomes glaringly obvious in this stat. Conversely, the play style of the throwing cannon in a jersey known as Jameis Winston becomes even more pronounced in this metric.
The core value of the APY stat comes in its ability to give us new insight in how teams move the ball through the air; for example the Falcons occupy an interesting spot on this list, at 23. It is not that Matt Ryan has suddenly developed into a Brady-esque short distance passer; it is because his receivers are averaging the highest amount of YAC per reception in the league. The Falcons are one of only two teams on the list averaging over 6 yards of YAC per reception, the other is the Patriots. Speaking of the Patriots, they shine through on this list as exactly what we would expect to see, statistically, from a dink and dunk team. The Pats are average or below average for APY per completion and attempts, but second in the league for YAC per reception; If any team is average or below average for APY per completion and attempts, but above average for YAC per reception they are most likely a dink and dunk offense.
At the other end of the spectrum, the teams at the top of the list are heavy QB dependent passing teams, with the exceptions of the Bills and Cowboys, in the top 10. All NFL teams are heavily dependent on QB play, except maybe the Bills, what we mean is the QB is doing the majority of the work getting the ball down field. We are reluctant to excuse the Titians with the Bills and Cowboys because even though Murray is having a great year, Mariota is generating a lot of production on the ground and through the air that is, in some part, allowing Murray more space to work. Being heavy QB dependent in the passing is not god; this is evident by the only team currently in the playoffs, in the top 10, are the Cowboys (who are sitting at number 10); compared to 6 teams in the bottom 10 spots for APY.
While having a great passing game is good for a team’s success, it is more than just yards and touchdowns. Being able to operate an air attack that isn’t highly dependent on the QB providing the majority of the distance of the throws is a strong key to being able to effectively defeat opponents.
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