clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Analyzing Offensive Stats: Yards Per Attempt

Los Angeles Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

Throughout this series I will try to shine some light on statistics that can help understand some recent Colts results as well as making some educated predictions as to what this team will look like next season and beyond. Some disclaimers: my conclusions here are in no way locks, as football is a game of endless variables, but some numbers have a considerable weight and correlation to results. Also, I’m nowhere near my fellow SB writer Troy Russell’s level of understanding about statistics, so expect this series to be much more simple.

On this first episode I will take a dive into my favourite stat to analyze how effective passing offenses are: Yards per attempt. The name of this statistic is pretty much self explanatory: You take the quarterbacks total passing yards and divide by his attempts. The average YPA for a quarterback in the past 3 seasons is 6.89. Any number above 7 is good, while anything near 8 is elite.

My hypothesis here is that YPA correlates to scoring offense, the more YPA the more effective the offense is at scoring the ball. In order to prove this I collected data from the past 3 seasons. I took the YPA for every team’s quarterback and then correlated it to how they ranked in scoring offense.

0.63 Correlation
0.85 Correlation
0.73 Correlation

As the charts for the past 3 seasons, YPA has a solid correlation to PPG. In simple terms, if a team gets good yardage for each attempt, they generally get more points. The exceptions to the norm were teams that relied mostly to the running game to move the ball (which are not many), like the 2019 Colts, or also teams that despite having an above-average YPA also had an absurdly high turnover ratio, like any Jameis Winston led offense in the past 3 years.

The best teams in YPA were of course the Mahomes led Chiefs and the Drew BreesSaints. While there were some surprises, like say Ryan Tannehill pacing the NFL last year with 9.0 YPA and Nick Mullens ranking 3rd in 2018.

Now what does all this mean for the 2020 Colts? Well former starter Jacoby Brissett was a bottom tier quarterback in YPA in his two full seasons as a starter (29th in 2019, 24th in 2017) while Phillip Rivers was elite before what we hope was a fluke 2019 season, ranking 11th last year, 4th in 2018, and 6th in 2017. Rivers is way more effective than Jacoby moving the ball, and his talents will hopefully elevate the Colts offense to the next level in the upcoming season.

Rivers will have a top offensive-line in front of him, a true running game and if Hilton is healthy and rookie wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. is as good as expected then he will have a solid receiving corps. All the ingredients are set for the Colts offense to rebound from an underwhelming past season and for Rivers to quiet his detractors.

If there is any statistic you would like for me to take a deep look at feel free to mention it in the comments and I will consider it for future entries!