Mark Zerof/USA TODAY

Tuesday trends: NFL passing prowess

Quarterback efficiency is on pace for an all-time high, but the yards per attempt aren’t suffering. Plus, get the leaders from around the NFL in selected deep-dive looks.

NFL quarterbacks are on pace for a combination of records that would seem to be in contrast with each other – getting better at completion percentage and average yards per attempt.

Through seven weeks of the NFL season, quarterbacks have a league-wide passer rating of 90.2 and completion percentage of 63.9. Those would both be NFL records if carried through the rest of the season – 1.3 points better than the previous passer rating and 1.7 percent better than the previous completion percentage.

But 2015 quarterbacks are also on pace for the highest yards-per-attempt average at 7.32 after setting the mark at 7.21 last year.

Teams are also on pace for the second-highest scoring total, with an average of 46.6 points scored per game (both teams). The record is 46.8, set in 2013. Touchdowns are coming at a record pace. So far in 2015, the NFL has 553 touchdowns, 337 of them coming through the air.

INDVIDUAL NOTABLES

  • While completion percentages are nice, the top two in the league this year aren’t mentioned among the top quarterbacks. Brandon Weeden leads the league with a 72.4 completion percentage, followed by Tyrod Taylor at 70.1. Philip Rivers is fourth in completion percentage but has a 398-yard lead on Tom Brady for passing yards (Rivers has one more game played than Brady, but is averaging 8 more yards per game played).

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  • Rivers is getting big help from his receivers when it comes to yardage. He leads all quarterbacks with his receivers gaining 1,439 yards after the catch.
  • If it’s big plays you’re looking for, Andy Dalton leads the NFL in yards per attempt (9.12) and 19 passes of more than 25 yards.
  • Devonta Freeman leads the league with 19 rushes of more than 10 yards.
  • Chris Johnson’s 26-yard touchdown run on Monday Night Football was his 21st career touchdown run of at least 25 yards, tying him with Adrian Peterson for second-most in NFL history. Barry Sanders had 27 rushing touchdowns of 25 yards or more.
  • Johnson has the most rushing yards (379) on first-and-10 situations this year.
  • Rob Gronkowski appears to be on his way to a Hall of Fame career, entering rare company reserved for wide receivers. Gronkowski has 60 touchdown catches in 71 career games, the third-fastest player to reach 60 touchdown receptions and the fastest among tight ends. The other four in the top five fastest to reach 60 touchdown catches – Lance Alworth, Jerry Rice, Tommy McDonald and Bob Hayes – are all receivers and all Hall of Famers.
  • Gronkowski has the most receptions of any NFL player inside the red zone, with eight of his catches coming inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
  • While Gronkowski is making his mark at the tight end position, Keenan Allen is getting it done as a receiver for the San Diego Chargers. He already has 62 receptions this season, the most of any player in NFL history through the first seven games of a season and a big contributor to Rivers’ success.
  • On defense, Miami’s Cameron Wake leads the NFL with four forced fumbles and has done that in only six games played.
  • Michael Bennett, Carlos Dunlap and Chandler Jones share the sacks lead with 6½ each.
  • Mike Adams, Josh Norman and Charles Woodson share the interceptions lead with four each.
  • Buffalo’s Ronald Darby leads the league with 14 passes defensed, but his teammate, Stephon Gilmore, is second with 12.


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