Joe has given me the opportunity to write a weekly piece here at Buffalo Wins and I’d like to thank him for that. The weekly piece will likely come every Monday morning and essentially revolve around one statistic that I feel is central to the team’s performance that week, or over the past few weeks, positive or negative.
Given the bizarre (to put it nicely) nature of this week’s game, there were certainly plenty of statistics to pull from. Despite the win this week, it would be naïve to ignore the many issues the Bills have experienced over the past few weeks, most of which carried over to this week. The issue that I see as the most concerning moving forward is the inefficiency of the passing game, that’s where the number 4.78 comes in.
4.78 is everybody’s favorite grizzled Ivy League grad’s yards per pass attempt for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. If you’re not familiar with the statistic, on the surface that may not seem like a terrible number but to put it in perspective, the leaders in yards per attempt in the NFL are generally around 8 yards/attempt. A yards/attempt of 4.78 over the course of the first six weeks of the season would land you very comfortably in last place in the league. Only two quarterbacks in the league even fall below the 6.4 yards/attempt mark (Gabbert and Hasselbeck).
To those that would say it’s too small of a sample size to extrapolate and compare to guys who have played six full games, that’s a fair criticism. We’ll expand our scope and look back to last week; Fitzpatrick was only marginally better against San Francisco as he posted a yards/attempt of 4.81. We will extend it even further back to the 2nd half of the Patriots game where Fitzpatrick posted a yards/attempt number of 5.67. It’s not exactly a brief slump, over the last two and a half games Ryan Fitzpatrick has posted a yards/attempt number of 4.99. In a word, that could be described as pitiful. Over the last two and a half games, Fitzpatrick has completed 40 of 73 attempts (54.8%) for 364 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. To break it down further, that equates to 145.6 yards per game.
Yards/attempt is such a useful statistic because it concisely accounts for both completion percentage as well as yards/completion. It gives you a pretty good idea of how effective a player is. The top three players in yards/attempt last season were Rodgers, Brady, and Brees; in 2010 the top three players were Brady, Rivers, and Rodgers. It’s a pretty good barometer for quarterback success and Ryan Fitzpatrick’s numbers over the past couple of weeks have been worrisome, to say the least.