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In 2006, playing for the Detroit Lions, quarterback Jon Kitna was responsible for every pass attempt by the team. He wound up throwing for 4,208 yards, and ran for another 156 yards. The Lions, being a terrible 3-13 team, finished 32nd in rushing attempts (because they were always losing) and 2nd in pass attempts (because they were always losing).

So you won’t be surprised to see that the Lions threw for a lot of yards (7th most in the NFL) and ran for not many yards (last). And since Kitna took every passing attempt, well, Kitna was responsible for most of the Lions total yards. In fact, the 4,364 yards he totaled wound up representing 81.7% of the Lions 5,337 team yards from scrimmage. That is the most in a single season by any player in NFL history… until, maybe, now.

Here’s a good tip: if you see a stat that says Superstar X has the most Y in history, and it doesn’t tell you who currently has the most Y in history, there’s a good chance it’s a player who isn’t very good. (Also, and this is a more rare rule: if a stat says since X date, it usually means another player had a better season before X date. That’s not the case here; the “in the Super Bowl era” modifier was not necessary.)

Wilson has all 2,543 passing yards thrown by the Seahawks this year, and he also leads the team in rushing. Wilson has 290 rushing yards, so he’s accounted for 2,833 yards for Seattle this year, or 82.1% of the team’s 3,443 yards through ten weeks.

Below are the current list of single-season leaders in percentage of team yards:

RkPlayerTeamYearQB YardsTeam YardsPerc
1Jon KitnaDET20064364533781.8%
2Matthew StaffordDET20164534563780.4%
3Blake BortlesJAX20154738590180.3%
4Joe MontanaSFO19822731340880.1%
5Matt RyanATL20124860611679.5%
6Mark BrunellJAX19964763601779.2%
7Tony RomoDAL20124951625779.1%
8Matt RyanATL20134570578879%
9Drew BreesNOR20135214663578.6%
10Tom BradyNWE20154859621678.2%
11Archie ManningNOR19723132401178.1%
12Aaron RodgersGNB20164797614678.1%
13Daunte CulpepperMIN20045123657777.9%
14Eli ManningNYG20114948636077.8%
15Drew BledsoeNWE19944595591577.7%
16Matthew StaffordDET20115116659477.6%
17Philip RiversSDG20154820621377.6%
18Philip RiversSDG20144388566377.5%
19Matt RyanATL20144839625677.3%
20Don MajkowskiGNB19894676605777.2%
21Jeff BlakeCIN19954131535477.2%
22Joe FlaccoBAL20134043524277.1%
23Warren MoonHOU19914758617077.1%
24Blake BortlesJAX20164284555677.1%
25Brett FavreGNB19954594596777%
26Matt SchaubHOU20094827627876.9%
27Ryan TannehillMIA20134151540676.8%
28Cam NewtonCAR20124616601576.7%
29Ben RoethlisbergerPIT20134365568976.7%
30Dan MarinoMIA19884417576276.7%
31Drew BreesNOR20125182676476.6%
32Andrew LuckIND20124629604576.6%
33Steve BeuerleinCAR19994560597276.4%
34Peyton ManningIND20104718618376.3%
35Matthew StaffordDET20144350570676.2%
36Steve BeuerleinCAR20003836503676.2%
37Drew BreesNOR20074485588976.2%
38Matthew StaffordDET20154415579876.1%
39Tom BradyNWE20115344702176.1%
40Ryan TannehillMIA20154358572776.1%
41Peyton ManningIND20094487589976.1%
42Drew BreesNOR20085068666376.1%
43Donovan McNabbPHI20003999526875.9%
44Kurt WarnerARI20084581605375.7%
45Jeff GarciaSFO20004692620175.7%
46Warren MoonHOU19904904648975.6%
47Drew BledsoeNWE19994086541175.5%
48Randall CunninghamPHI19884432587275.5%
49Matthew StaffordDET20125096675275.5%
50Peyton ManningIND20024348576175.5%

With Kitna on top of that list (and Bortles in 3rd place), it isn’t so impressive sounding. I’d argue that what we are really trying to isolate is that Wilson has 100% of Seattle’s passing yards and 32.0% of Seattle’s rushing yards. The fact that Seattle passes a lot, while important, isn’t quite as important as the fact that Wilson has all of the passing yards and a huge chunk of the rushing yards. If you take a simple average of those two percentages, you could say that Wilson has 66% of the team’s yards this year. And while that’s impressive, it’s not quite the most ever:

RkPlayerTeamYearQB YardsPass PercRush PercAverage
1Bobby DouglassCHI1972221497.1%41%69.1%
2Cam NewtonCAR2012461698.5%35.5%67%
3Randall CunninghamPHI1990440896.8%36.9%66.8%
4Donovan McNabbPHI2000399999.4%33.4%66.4%
5Glenn DobbsLAD1948295396.2%34.7%65.5%
6Russell WilsonSEA2014434199.5%30.7%65.1%
7Spec SandersNYY1947288780.3%48.9%64.6%
8Randall CunninghamPHI1988443297%32.1%64.5%
9Cam NewtonCAR20133964100%28.9%64.4%
10Archie ManningNOR19723132100%28.5%64.3%
11Cam NewtonCAR2011478499.1%29.3%64.2%
12Colin KaepernickSFO2014400898.9%29.4%64.1%
13Michael VickATL2006351492.2%35.4%63.8%
14Cam NewtonCAR2015447399.1%27.9%63.5%
15Randall CunninghamPHI1989402198.4%28.1%63.3%
16Steve McNairTEN1997333998.6%27.9%63.2%
17Bud SchwenkCRD1942167395%30.7%62.8%
18Alex SmithKAN2015398499.8%24.4%62.1%
19Mark BrunellJAX19964763100%24%62%
20Timm RosenbachPHO1990356899.4%24.6%62%
21Russell WilsonSEA2015457799.1%24.4%61.7%
22Colin KaepernickSFO2013372199.6%23.8%61.7%
23Parker HallRAM1939166986.7%36.3%61.5%
24Daunte CulpepperMIN2002446297.5%24.3%60.9%
25Blake BortlesJAX2016428499.5%22%60.8%
26Daunte CulpepperMIN2004512399.2%22.3%60.7%
27Donovan McNabbPHI2001371594.3%27.1%60.7%
28Rich GannonOAK20003959100%21.4%60.7%
29Aaron RodgersGNB2016479799.6%21.7%60.7%
30Frankie SinkwichDET1944162371.9%49.3%60.6%
31Steve McNairTEN1998378792.7%28.4%60.5%
32Blake BortlesJAX20154738100%21%60.5%
33Steve McNairTEN2002382798.4%22.5%60.5%
34Aaron BrooksNOR2001419099.7%20.9%60.3%
35Don MajkowskiGNB1989467699.8%20.7%60.3%
36Russell WilsonSEA2013389695.7%24.6%60.2%
37Jeff GarciaSFO2000469297.2%23%60.1%
38Daunte CulpepperMIN2000440798%22.1%60%
39Michael VickATL2004321585.9%33.8%59.8%
40Doug WilliamsTAM1980376699.5%20.1%59.8%
41Michael VickATL2002372986.8%32.8%59.8%
42David CarrHOU2002287498.3%20.9%59.6%
43Jeff BlakeCIN1995413197.6%21.5%59.5%
44Mike PhippsCLE1973211498.7%20.1%59.4%
45Aaron RodgersGNB2015416599.9%18.6%59.2%
46Andrew LuckIND2013419996.7%21.6%59.2%
47David GarrardJAX20083936100%18.2%59.1%
48Jay FiedlerMIA2001361198.7%19.3%59%
49Richard ToddNYJ1980365999.8%17.6%58.7%
50Robert GriffinWAS2012401587.3%30.1%58.7%

Bobby Douglass is your leader by this metric, with a more recent Cam Newton season coming in second place.

If you compare Wilson’s 2017 to Newton’s 2012, you can see that “percentage of total team yards” tells a different story than this metric. Newton’s 2012 ranks 28th in the first table, but that’s because Carolina didn’t pass *that much* in 2012. Carolina finished 26th in pass attempts and 16th in passing yards, while ranking 11th in rushing attempts and 9th in rushing yards. So Newton played on a less rush-friendly team, but he was a bigger part of his team’s running game than Wilson has been this year.

What do you think?

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  • AgronomyBrad

    I wonder how this compares if based only on plays? i.e. Wilson has 335 pass attempts, 23 sacks, and 51 rush attempts/scrambles for a total of 409 plays, which is 68.5% of Seattle’s 597 total plays.

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  • Adam

    Why aren’t you deducting sack yards from the QB’s contribution? It doesn’t make sense that sack yards are ignored in the numerator but included in the denominator (team total yards).

  • Mark Growcott

    Randall Cunningham also gets a notable mention here particularly in his early years with the Eagles when he dominated the Offense courtesy of leading the team in Rushing yards in 4 consecutive seasons (1987-90). This streak would likely have continued if not for a devastating knee injury he suffered early in the 1991 season. Cunningham in today’s NFL would be something to saviour.

  • Richie

    What makes that 2012 season for Newton even crazier is that Carolina still had both Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams at the time. Though I think both missed some time with injuries.

  • In week 11 against the Falcons, Wilson was even better than usual: he had 88.2% of the Seahawks yards.

    • Mark Growcott

      And he extended his lead in Rushing Yds to 168 over Chris Carson (who is on IR) in 2nd place and to 246 over 3rd place. He is odds on now to end the season as the team leader in Rushing Yds. Wilson is phenomenal but the Seahawks can’t continue to expect him to do it alone. His 6.5 Y/A is the 2nd best of his career.

      There were some bone headed decisions in this game by Carroll that proved significant, the fake FG and the wasting of crucial timeouts. The path to the Playoffs just became a little more difficult for the Seahawks.

      • Richie

        It’s incredible with all the sacks he’s taken (he’s been sacked 231 times in his career – most since he entered the league) and all his running, that he has not gotten hurt enough to miss a game. I don’t think he’s even missed many meaningful snaps due to injuries.

  • Brian

    Now add the fact that Wilson has accounted for 23 of the team’s 24 offensive TDs (21 passing and 2 rushing for Wilson; 1 rushing for McKissic) and passed for both of the team’s 2 point conversions. That is 136 of the team’s 214 offensive points (not counting the 3 defensive TDs but counting the associated extra points), or 63.5%. I assume that leads the league.

  • garymrosen

    What this mostly measures is how bad a team’s running game is. I remember in 1982 the 49ers run game sucked badly which is why next year they drafted Roger Craig and acquired Wendell Tyler.

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