More Yacking about YAC - Peyton Manning got his passing yards through the air

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Do the best QBs get more or less from yards after the catch (YAC) than lower tier QBs? Where does Peyton fall in this?

At the simplest level, there are only two types of routes that receivers run: ones where they catch the ball while standing still and ones where they are still moving when they catch the ball (Editor's note: whoa). It would stand to reason that QBs who completed more passes on routes where receivers are still in motion would get more YAC, but the ability of the receiver to avoid tacklers or to break tackles and the tackling proficiency of the defenders also play a huge factor in YAC. Let's look at some numbers bearing a few things in mind:

1. Demaryius Thomas led the league in total YAC last year (713 YAC) despite ranking 34th in YAC% among all receivers (50%) (28th among guys with 2 or more catches per game) - YAC% = YAC/(Total Receiving Yards).

2. Danny Woodhead led the league with an astounding 82% of his receiving yardage coming after the catch.

3. Lance Moore was the worst receiver in the league last year in terms of doing something after the catch with only 14% of his yards coming after the catch, Roddy White was not much better at 18% (minimum 2 catches/game).

4. The best WR in the game last season for YAC% was Ace Sanders with 63% (min 2 catches/game), but he was only 8th in the league among all eligible pass catchers.

From a purely Broncos receiver perspective, here are the YAC% of all of the guys who made the YAC list

Rec YAC YAC %
Julius Thomas 65 400 51%
Demaryius Thomas 92 718 50%
Wes Welker 73 340 44%
Jacob Tamme 20 76 41%
Eric Decker 87 404 31%
Andre Caldwell 16 42 21%

The best YAC% on the Broncos was Julius Thomas, who ranked 26th among eligible receivers. Caldwell's 21% was near the bottom of the league, so Peyton Manning had a mix of good and bad from his receivers. Well then, how did PFM rank in 2013?

2013 QB Team Games Total YAC YAC%
1 Chad Henne JAC 15 3241 1863 57.5%
2 Sam Bradford STL 7 1687 937 55.5%
3 Alex Smith KC 15 3313 1835 55.4%
4 Jason Campbell CLE 9 2015 1069 53.1%
5 Andrew Luck IND 16 3822 2014 52.7%
6 Terrelle Pryor OAK 11 1798 946 52.6%
7 Aaron Rodgers GB 9 2536 1323 52.2%
8 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 16 4261 2201 51.7%
9 Matthew Stafford DET 16 4650 2392 51.4%
10 Cam Newton CAR 16 3379 1736 51.4%
11 Nick Foles PHI 13 2891 1482 51.3%
12 Philip Rivers SD 16 4478 2274 50.8%
13 Matt Ryan ATL 16 4515 2276 50.4%
14 Andy Dalton CIN 16 4293 2160 50.3%
15 Drew Brees NO 16 5162 2576 49.9%
16 Tom Brady NE 16 4343 2151 49.5%
17 Peyton Manning DEN 16 5477 2682 49.0%
18 Robert Griffin III WAS 13 3203 1560 48.7%
19 EJ Manuel BUF 10 1972 953 48.3%
20 Tony Romo DAL 15 3828 1840 48.1%
21 Josh McCown CHI 8 1829 879 48.1%
22 Joe Flacco BAL 16 3912 1876 48.0%
23 Ryan Fitzpatrick TEN 11 2454 1173 47.8%
24 Matt Cassel MIN 9 1807 844 46.7%
25 Russell Wilson SEA 16 3357 1553 46.3%
26 Kellen Clemens STL 10 1673 764 45.7%
27 Christian Ponder MIN 9 1648 739 44.8%
28 Colin Kaepernick SF 16 3197 1398 43.7%
29 Ryan Tannehill MIA 16 3913 1704 43.5%
30 Carson Palmer ARI 16 4274 1854 43.4%
31 Geno Smith NYJ 16 3046 1299 42.6%
32 Matt Schaub HOU 10 2310 963 41.7%
33 Eli Manning NYG 16 3818 1547 40.5%
34 Case Keenum HOU 8 1760 708 40.2%
35 Jay Cutler CHI 11 2621 1024 39.1%
36 Brandon Weeden CLE 8 1731 670 38.7%
37 Mike Glennon TB 13 2608 925 35.5%

So we see that despite having the greatest season by a QB ever in 2013, PFM was average in terms of YAC%. Almost exactly half of Manning's passing yards came from YAC. We also see that even a "weak-armed" QB like Henne gained more than 40% of his passing yards as "air yards" in 2013. The Air% is the other passing yards (1-YAC%) are so named because those QB yards are gained with the ball in the air, hence "air yards". It's also interesting to note that PFM had more YAC than Mike Glennon had TOTAL passing yards (admittedly Glennon only 13 starts).

Who have been the QBs who have benefitted the most from YAC in recent years (measured by YAC%)? See below for the NFL leader by year

Year QB Team Games Total YAC YAC%
2013 Chad Henne JAC 15 3,241 1,863 57.5%
2012 Christian Ponder MIN 16 2,935 1,713 58.4%
2011 Blaine Gabbert JAC 15 2,214 1,181 53.3%
2010 Jon Kitna DAL 10 2,365 1,391 58.8%
2009 Jason Campbell WAS 16 3,618 2,161 59.7%
2008 Matt Cassel NE 16 3,693 2,116 57.3%
2007 Trent Edwards BUF 10 1,630 857 52.6%
2006 Mark Brunell WAS 10 1,789 1,051 58.7%
2005 Kelly Holcomb BUF 10 1,509 821 54.4%
2004 Joey Harrington DET 16 3,047 1,570 51.5%

What do all of the QBs on that list have in common? There were all "game-managers" (at least at that time) and most of them did not keep their starting gigs (if they were starters to begin with).

What about the guys who got the smallest % of their passing yards from YAC (among qualifiers)?

Year QB Team Games Total YAC YAC%
2013 Mike Glennon TB 13 2,608 925 35.5%
2012 Mark Sanchez NYJ 15 2,883 1,026 35.6%
2011 Matt Moore MIA 13 2,497 901 36.1%
2010 Kerry Collins TEN 10 1,823 606 33.2%
2009 Josh Freeman TB 10 1,855 712 38.4%
2008 Eli Manning NYG 16 3,238 1,220 37.7%
2007 Sage Rosenfels HOU 9 1,684 581 34.5%
2006 Andrew Walter OAK 12 1,677 538 32.1%
2005 Matt Hasselbeck SEA 16 3,459 1,203 34.8%
2004 Jake Delhomme CAR 16 3,886 1,309 33.7%

Interestingly, there are some failed NFL QBs on this list along with guys who made it to the super bowl and lost (Delhomme, Hasselbeck and Collins) and one guy who has two super bowl rings (Eli).

So where has PFM been throughout his career in terms of YAC%? see below

Year League Rank Total passing Yards YAC YAC%
2013 17 5,477 2,682 49.0%
2012 24 4,659 1,994 42.8%
2010 25 4,700 2,003 42.6%
2009 18 4,500 2,092 46.5%
2008 29 4,002 1,627 40.7%
2007 28 4,040 1,543 38.2%
2006 30 4,397 1,508 34.3%
2005 28 3,747 1,438 38.4%
2004 24 4,557 1,725 37.9%
2003 2 4,267 1,855 43.5%
2002 6 4,200 1,684 40.1%
2001 3 4,131 1,795 43.5%
2000 10 4,413 1,578 35.8%
1999 22 4,135 1,760 42.6%
1998 3 3,739 1,774 47.4%

So while PFM was in the top 3rd in the league in the majority of his early years, something changed in 2004 and since then PFM has been in the bottom half or bottom third of the league in terms of YAC%. Oddly the only difference between 03 and 04 for PFM was addition of Stokley and Clark to his receiving corps - his top 4 receivers from 03 were back (Harrison, Wayne, James and Pollard) - so it wasn't a change in who was catching the ball. The change was in the NFL as a whole - the 5-yard rule was implemented (ostensibly to help Manning's Colts beat the press-coverage of the Pats) and many teams starting doing what PFM and the Colts had been doing for years. It is interesting to note that Peyton was 2nd in the league in 2003 with 43.5% of his yardage coming after the catch while in 2013 he had a career high 49.0% of his yardage come from YAC and that was ONLY 17th in the league. That would indicate to me that over the course of Manning's career the league as whole has gone to more of a "YAC-oriented" passing game.  To put it another way, Manning's 35.8 YAC% from 2000 was 10th that year, but would have been last in the league in 2011, 2009 and 2007.

Based upon Manning's numbers from the past decade, I would not expect a dramatic change in his YAC% in 2014. The swap of Decker for Sanders should not have that much of an effect Manning's YAC%. I would not be surprised if his YAC% was more like his 2012 number than his 2013. What do you think?

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Mile High Report

You must be a member of Mile High Report to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Mile High Report. You should read them.

Join Mile High Report

You must be a member of Mile High Report to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Mile High Report. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker