Several FN members have claimed that Tom Brady's four-interception season was the product of short, safe passes, augmented with yards after the catch. But I have yet to see anyone back up those claims with statistical evidence.
Initially I intended to create a throwdown defending Brady. However, after accumulating the data, I don't believe that the results helped Brady's cause. So I decided to scrap the throwdown in favor of sharing some homemade stats. You guys can make your own assessment.
The first stat I looked at was Tom Brady's yards per attempt. He finished the 2010 season with a 7.9 YPA, the 2nd highest single-season YPA of his career. That fact alone caused me to assume Brady's criticism was unmerited. But the total YPA doesn't tell the whole story - it includes yards after catch.
For the sake of image size within this blog, I limited my charts to 32 quarterbacks - the quarterback with the most pass attempts per team appears on the chart. Therefore a few notable QBs were left off the chart: Tony Romo, Matthew Stafford, Vince Young, etc.
On the charts shown below you will see a new column added, labeled "Air Yards" (I didn't make that name up myself). Air Yards are simply the quarterbacks total passing yards without yards after catch. Or, expressed mathematically:
Total Yards - Yards After Catch = Air Yards
Now onto the charts...
Yards per Attempt
The total YPA is nothing new. But I added the chart to keep everything in perspective. Tom Brady finished with the 5th highest YPA in the NFL last year.
Yards After Catch per Attempt
These are the numbers that I was really after. No sports site had them, so I had calculate them on Excel. As you will see, Brady finished the season with 4.08 YAC per attempt. Out of the 32 quarterbacks who threw the most pass attempts for their respective team last year, Brady ranked #4 on this list.
Air Yards per Attempt
Out of pure curiosity, considering I had gotten this far, I calculated the "Air Yards" per pass attempt. You will see that Brady ranked #17 on this list.
As stated above, I had approached this topic with the intent to defend Tom Brady. But after reviewing the stats, I expect you can see why I simply could not do that. This is not to say that I agree with the criticism Brady receives; a 0.8% interception percentage is impressive anyway you twist it. But it does seem to support the critics stance more than it negates it.
Is it a fair assessment to claim that Brady's four-interception performance was the product of short, safe passes? I'll let you decide.