How far downfield did NFL QBs complete their passes?

In the last post, I calculated each NFL QBs Week One “Air Yards per Attempt”.  AYpA measures each QBs ability to produce efficient forward yards for his team via the forward pass.  Today I took those APyA averages and calculated the average distance between the line of scrimmage and the completion point for each QBs completed passes in Week One.  I call it the “Hit Point Average”.

What does HPA tell us about each passer?  In my opinion, those who can complete passes farther downfield are better passers, provided they complete those passes efficiently.  Any QB can dump the ball to his checkdown receiver, not every QB can fit a ball into a small window downfield.  If a QB has a below average HPA over a long period of time, that may indicate he is more a product of a passing system rather than a good passer. 

Now, you cannot draw such sweeping conclusions until you have a sufficient amount of data to analyze.  We do not have that yet.  We have only one week of passing to look at.  Nevertheless, we can look at the numbers and make some contingent observations.

First, Cam Newton is not afraid.  In Week One, he showed a willingness to push the ball downfield and, more importantly, he showed an ability to complete passes downfield.  Both characteristics bode well for his future because, if you notice, most of the other young QBs on the list below have HPAs below the NFL average of 6.0 yards.  From that we can conclude that most young quarterbacks prefer the safe option.  For one week of action, Newton eschewed the safe option and had success doing so.

If you notice from the list, most good quarterbacks complete their passes 7.0 yards downfield on average.  Most of the bad quarterbacks complete their passes around 3.0 yards downfield.  The good quarterbacks can put the ball on the mark to their receivers, the bad quarterbacks complete most of their passes to running backs.

Here is the list for this week:

  AYpA Hit Points
Newton 7.46 11.5
Grossman 6.12 9.9
Brady 5.81 8.7
Schaub 5.62 7.9
Emanning 5.46 9.7
Rodgers 5.32 6.9
Fitzpatrick 5.24 7.7
Kolb 4.85 7.3
Brees  4.83 7.4
Romo 4.66 7.3
Henne 4.45 7.3
Sanchez 4.32 7.3
Cutler 3.84 5.6
Vick 3.75 8.4
Stafford 3.71 5.1
Asmith 3.69 4.9
Rthlisberger 3.49 6.5
Freeman 3.39 5.2
Collins 3.35 6.5
Flacco 3.31 5.6
McOwn 3.21 3.3
Orton 3.21 6.7
Ryan 3.12 4.7
Hsslbeck 2.94 4.8
Bradford 2.76 4.9
Dalton 2.73 4.1
Jackson 2.67 4.7
McCoy 2.35 4.9
Campbell 1.09 1.8
Cassell 0.86 1.4
McNabb -0.86 -1.8
AVG 3.76 5.9

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