With 10 teams in the league halfway through their 2012 schedule, and 21 of the 22 remaining teams (with the exception of San Francisco) hitting the midway point this weekend, now is a good time to take a look at the statistics some individual players are amassing.
In 2011, not just one, but two quarterbacks surpassed Dan Marino’s hallowed record for passing yards in a season; Brees set the new standard of 5,476 yards (342.2 YPG), and Tom Brady finished with the second-best all-time season, with 5,235 yards (327.2).
For good measure, Matthew Stafford also surpassed the 5,000-yard plateau with a monster Week 17 (520 yards), and Eli Manning narrowly missed joining the club, finishing with 4,933 yards.
So far in 2012, just one QB – Brees – is on pace to throw for 5,000 yards.
- Brees is averaging 330.0 YPG / on pace for: 5,280 (which would rank second all-time, behind his 2011 season)
- 20 TD passes & 8 INTs so far / on pace for: 46 & 18
- Peyton Manning is averaging 301.9 YPG / on pace for: 4,830 (which would be a career high)
- Stafford is averaging 301.1 YPG / on pace for: 4,818
- 8 TDs & 7 INTs so far / on pace for: 18 & 16
- Tom Brady is averaging 301.0 YPG / on pace for: 4,816
- 16 TDs & 3 INTs so far / on pace for: 32 TDs & 6 INTs
Brees set several other records in 2011, including most completed passes in a season (468) and highest completion percentage (71.6%).
Those marks appear safe in 2012.
A quarterback would have to average 29.3 pass connections a game to reach 469 completions. The top QBs in that category this year are Stafford (28.3 per game), Brees (26.9), Tony Romo (26.6) Brady (26.1 per game) and Matt Ryan (26.0). Stafford is on pace to complete 452 passes in 2012.
The QBs with the best completion percentages for in 2012 are:
Alex Smith (69.4)
Aaron Rodgers (69.0)
Matt Ryan (68.7)
Rodgers, who won the regular-season MVP award in 2011, set the new standard for quarterback rating, with a 122.5 (besting Peyton Manning’s 121.1 from 2004). No QB is even close so far this year, with the elder Manning leading the pack with a 109.0 rating.
Finally, while it was not an all-time record, Rodgers’ 9.2 Y/A last season was the third-highest since 1977, behind only Kurt Warner's 9.9 in 2000 and Chris Chandler's 9.6 in 1998.
New England tight end Rob Gronkowski burst onto the scene in 2011 with a season for the ages, breaking the previous records at his position (held by Kellen Winslow) for yards (1,327) and TDs (17). Gronkowski is on pace this season for 14 TD catches, and his yardage total of 580 yards halfway through is well below his 2011 standard.
Coming off his epic 18-reception game on Sunday, Dallas’ Jason Witten leads all TE’s with 51 catches, and is on pace for 117 – which would rank 9th all-time for any type of pass-catcher.
Of course, Witten was on pace for 88 receptions after six games this season, so he may not be able to keep up with his new, inflated pace.
REGGIE WAYNE leads the league in receiving YPG (108.1) which puts him on a pace for a 1,729-yard campaign – which would rank 4th all-time, just ahead of former teammate Marvin Harrison’s 1,722 yards.
IF Wayne can maintain his edge in yards, he’ll become the oldest league-leader in receiving yards in NFL history (topping Jerry Rice, who led the league in 1995 at the age of 33). Wayne turned 34 on Nov. 17.
Minnesota’s Percy Harvin and New England’s Wes Welker both have 60 receptions through eight games. If either, or both, can double that total in the second half, they’ll slide ahead of Isaac Bruce for 8th place on the all-time, single-season list.
The league’s leading rusher, Adrian Peterson, is on pace for 1,550 yards (averaging 96.9 YPG). That yardage total would rank as the 59th-best single-season total in history. Since 1991, only twice has the leading rusher accumulated fewer than 1,553 yards; Emmitt Smith won his third straight rushing title in 1993 with 1,486 yards, and LaDainian Tomlinson won his last title in 2007 with 1,474 yards.
- The 1998 Pittsburgh Steelers faced two rookie quarterbacks, and lost to both of them; the Steelers lost to Charlie Batch and Detroit in the infamous Thanksgiving Day Coin Flip Game, and then closed out the season with a loss to Jonathan Quinn and Jacksonville, giving Quinn his only career victory.
Since the start of the 1999 season, though, the Steelers are 18-3 (.857) against rookie QBs, including Sunday’s dominating performance against Washington’s Robert Griffin III. The rookies to triumph against Pittsburgh were Troy Smith, David Carr and Tim Couch.
- Smith, the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner, started the 2007 season finale for Baltimore, with many Pittsburgh defensive starters resting to get ready for the playoffs. Smith passes for 171 yards and 1 TD, and ran for 23 more in the Ravens’ 27-21 win.
- Carr’s win in 2002 was one of the more bizarre Steelers losses in franchise history; the expansion Texans won 24-6 despite generating a total of 47 yards of offense. Carr completed 3 passes for 33 yards.
- The Steelers lost to another expansion-team rookie in 1999, when Tim Couch led Cleveland back from an 8-point deficit with 10 minutes left to earn a 16-15 win at Three Rivers Stadium. Couch passed for 199 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT.
Pittsburgh may have two more games this season against a rookie QB, with two games yet to be played against Cleveland and its rookie signal-caller, Brandon Weeden.