The Importance of Yards Per Pass Attempt

by on June 3rd, 2014
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My first problem with the passer rating is that it is unit-less. I like running backs, wide receivers, defensive stats because they are rushing yards, yards per carry, receptions, receiving yards, tackles, interceptions, etc. The total QBR is an improvement as it includes things the traditional passer rating doesn’t such as sacks, fumbles, and rushing yards.

One of the first reasons I love yards per pass attempt is it measures the quarterback’s ability to get the ball down-field. A QB can throw a 50 yard pass down to the 1-yard line and the running back pounds it in, QB rating doesn’t do that drive justice as it greatly values touchdown passes while YPPA looks at it as 1 pass attempt for 50 YPPA. Conversely, a running back can get a 50-yard run down to the 1 and the QB gets an easy bootleg pass for a skyrocketing boost on QB rating while YPPA sees it as 1 attempt for 1 YPPA. It will show that the best quarterbacks will have high YPPA as they are able to throw the ball well all season.

Look at this season’s leader, Aaron Rodgers at a very impressive 9.25. Wouldn’t you agree that he is the quarterback that is having the best season? Blaine Glabbert is the lowest at 5.39, couldn’t you make the case he is the quarterback that is having the worst season? Look at previous seasons — Philip Rivers led the league at 8.71 with Aaron Rodgers second at 8.26. I think most people will agree Jimmy Clausen was the worst with a miserable 5.21 Rivers again led the league in 2009 with a 8.75 with Roethlisberger #2 at 8.55. Super Bowl winning QB Drew Brees was third with an 8.54. And couldn’t we agree that Jamarcus Russell and Brady Quinn were the worst with a 5.23?

You can scroll through the weekly box scores and I can almost guarantee the team with the highest YPPA won the game. With the importance in my opinion of yards per pass attempt to a team’s success it is a wonder why the stat is virtually ignored. Obviously it is a bit difficult to compare quarterbacks of today with quarterbacks prior to the 70’s but the all-time leader Otto Graham at 9.0 is in the Hall of Fame.

Now this stat isn’t everything as it ignores touchdowns, interceptions, sacks, fumbles, and completion percentage. Adjusted Yards Per Pass Attempt(where Aaron Rodgers is the all-time leader) or Net Yards Per Pass Attempt(again Rodgers) are perhaps better stats as they include things like that. However, if you’re on ESPN.com or similar website where YPPA is all they have pay attention to that first then things like touchdowns, interceptions, and very rarely-completion percentage.


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