YAC – yards after the catch – is a trendy acronym in today’s NFL.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had a career game last week against the Chicago Bears in which he threw for 231 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for a touchdown. It was a game that saw him throw just three incompletions, but two were dropped and the other was tipped at the line of scrimmage.
While all the stats point toward Bridgewater putting the team on his back and leading them to victory, they might not tell the whole story. His receivers and running backs deserve a lot of the credit for their quarterback’s success – a majority of his passing yards came on yards after the catch.
“That’s what we expect from those guys,” Bridgewater said of the plays his teammates made. “You put the tape on, you see other teams in the league, 31 other teams doing the exact same things and having some success. So it was good to see our guys make plays with the ball in their hand. That’s what this league is about, having your playmakers win those one-on-one battles and make plays for you.”
According to a review of his completions, 171 of Bridgewater’s 231 passing yards came after the catch, which means the quarterback threw the ball through the air for just 60 yards. And only two of his throws traveled for more than 10 yards through the air – the 15-yard touchdown to Stefon Diggs and the 34-yard pass down the middle of the field to Mike Wallace.
He had eight passes where he hit receivers either at the line of scrimmage or behind it that went for a total of 89 yards, including the 17-yard touchdown to Jerick McKinnon and the 4-yard touchdown to Zach Line.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that Bridgewater’s day was worse than it looks. The offense adjusted their game plan based on what the Bears defense was doing poorly and then exploited it.
“We take it however we can get it,” said wide receiver Jarius Wright. “We just noticed that they weren’t covering the drags that good so we just took advantage of it, I guess you could say.”
Wright also said that while the playmakers were making a lot of plays with the ball in their hands and gaining a lot of yards after the catch they could not have done it without Bridgewater. The accuracy he showed throughout the game is what put them in position to make plays and gain extra yards.
“A lot of people probably don’t realize how big of a role ball placement is,” Wright said. “If the ball is thrown behind you, you definitely got to slow down to catch it, which gives the defender time to catch up. A great thrown ball is definitely a bigger help.”
While statistically this was one of the best, if not the best, game of Bridgewater’s career, take it for what it is – a performance where he was a very accurate passer for the entirety of the game but got a lot of help from his receivers creating big plays with the ball in their hands.