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This week at the New York Times, I take a look at how Andy Dalton and Ryan Fitzpatrick are relying on yards after the catch to produce great efficiency numbers.

Two 2-0 teams have ridden the short-passing game to success. For the Cincinnati Bengals and the Houston Texans, the best players in their passing attacks are not the quarterbacks. As a result, both teams have constructed offenses that focus on high-percentage passes and getting the ball into the hands of their best playmakers.

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is averaging 9.1 yards per attempt through two weeks and 13.8 yards per completion; both marks are the highest in the league. But Cincinnati players have averaged 9.2 yards gained after the catch per reception, easily the highest mark in the N.F.L. Running back Giovani Bernard is responsible for 25 percent of Dalton’s passing yards, but most of the credit there goes to Bernard. On his 11 receptions, he has gained 141 yards, with 158 yards coming after the catch (Bernard’s average reception came 1.6 yards behind the line of scrimmage). For wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, 90 of his 120 receiving yards have come after the catch, with the majority of those coming on his long touchdown against Atlanta.

As a result of the efforts of players like Bernard and Sanu, 67 percent of Dalton’s passing yards this season have come after the catch. That is the second highest percentage in the league behind Minnesota’s Matt Cassel. While it is easy to be impressed by Dalton’s gaudy numbers, it is fair to wonder how much of the credit belongs to Dalton and how much belongs to his talented teammates.

You can read the full article here.

  • Red

    The numbers confirm what my eyes have been telling me about Fitzpatrick and Dalton; their receivers have been doing most of the work. Nick Foles is as system-dependent as any QB I can remember. We really have no idea how good he is, because Chip Kelly’s offense is so unique and amazing at creating wide open spaces for his receivers. Maybe I’m being too cynical about Foles, but I get the impression that 25 other QB’s could succeed in Kelly’s system.

    You know this is one of my favorite topics 🙂

    • Chase Stuart

      Yes, and this is a good topic!

      I actually was surprised to see that league-wide YAC was a bit lower than where it’s been over the past few years. At least, so far.

  • mrh

    Interesting as always. However, from 2004-2013, comp% using pfr’s game play finder:
    Weeks 1-5: 61.2%
    Weeks 6-9: 60.7%
    Weeks 10-13: 60.2%
    Weeks 14-18: 59.8%

    While some of this could be due to attrition of starting QBs, at least some of it is the weather getting worse as the year goes on, and we’ll see some of that dragging down 2014’s percentage. So it’s a little misleading to compare two weeks of 2014 comp% in good weather to 17 weeks of 2013 with the full range of weather effects (and QB attrition). It doesn’t take away from your overall point of course.