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2019 DVOA by Routes: Quarterbacks

Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins and New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Earlier this week, we looked at the most common routes in the 2019 season from a receiver's perspective -- how much production, or lack thereof, the most commonly targeted receivers could produce on a given route. That's only half the story, however. Today, we'll look at every qualified quarterback from 2019.

We're still looking at small sample sizes here, of course -- even on the most common route in football, the curl, several qualified quarterbacks had fewer than 50 attempts -- but larger sample sizes help give a clearer picture of which routes teams and quarterbacks prefer to throw, as well as how effectively they actually throw them. Only one player was targeted on more than 30 curl routes, for example, but 22 players threw at least 50 curls last season. We can more accurately measure Mitchell Trubisky's ability to throw the curl route than we can Allen Robinson's ability to catch it. Obviously, there's a lot of overlap between the success of a quarterback and his receiver, but you can look at the differences between, say, Drew Brees and Teddy Bridgewater to see that the quarterback has a lot of impact on both the frequency and effectiveness of any given route.

It's worth noting that, due to the way the data is collected, we are looking at receiving DYAR and DVOA, not passing. One big difference is that sacks aren't included -- obviously, if you're tackled to the ground, you're not throwing any particular route. Also -- and this is very, very important this year -- interceptions are not penalized below more than any other incomplete pass. The number of passes includes defensive pass interference penalties. Each table is sorted by descending DYAR.

To qualify for these tables, quarterbacks must be listed with at least 200 total targets in 2019. We also included three other players -- Bridgewater, Washington's Dwayne Haskins, and Denver's Drew Lock -- who threw at least 150 targets and are expected to start in 2020. This left us with 35 qualified passers. We already covered league-wide trends and notable plays in our receivers piece, so today we're going to focus solely on passing production in 2019.


Curl

There's a very common theme in these routes: naturally, the leading receiver and passer often play on the same team. So is the case with the curl, where Julio Jones led the league as a receiver, and Matt Ryan led the league as a passer.

Curl Route Leaders, 2019
Player Team DYAR DVOA Tgt Yds Catch% PYD YAC
Matt Ryan ATL 172 11.7% 104 7.4 78% 6.6 2.9
Drew Brees NO 157 30.1% 49 8.7 88% 6.3 3.8
Derek Carr OAK 115 13.4% 74 7.3 86% 5.4 3.2
Patrick Mahomes KC 115 17.1% 62 9.2 77% 7.9 4.4
Ryan Fitzpatrick MIA 106 5.5% 80 7.8 76% 8.1 2.3
Jared Goff LAR 105 5.4% 87 7.6 79% 7.2 3.0
Case Keenum WAS 100 25.4% 39 7.9 87% 6.3 2.5
Philip Rivers LAC 94 9.4% 66 7.5 75% 6.6 4.2
Russell Wilson SEA 94 6.1% 75 7.6 77% 6.1 4.0
Baker Mayfield CLE 92 11.2% 56 7.9 72% 7.0 3.9
Ryan Tannehill TEN 75 21.4% 33 8.9 76% 8.2 3.4
Kyle Allen CAR 74 6.5% 55 7.1 78% 6.5 3.3
Jameis Winston TB 72 0.3% 81 7.1 66% 8.5 2.7
Jimmy Garoppolo SF 68 11.4% 44 8.0 72% 8.0 3.0
Dak Prescott DAL 62 -3.8% 113 6.5 71% 7.0 2.1
Jacoby Brissett IND 60 0.7% 66 7.0 69% 7.0 3.2
Lamar Jackson BAL 54 5.5% 47 8.3 74% 6.8 4.3
Dwayne Haskins WAS 53 14.5% 30 8.6 73% 8.7 3.5
Matthew Stafford DET 50 7.8% 37 7.8 76% 7.1 3.1
Deshaun Watson HOU 48 0.1% 55 6.3 78% 4.7 3.7
Mason Rudolph PIT 40 1.5% 41 6.7 70% 7.4 3.0
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 38 -7.3% 104 6.0 72% 6.9 2.0
Joe Flacco DEN 32 2.8% 31 6.5 83% 6.3 1.8
Sam Darnold NYJ 23 -5.0% 47 6.8 70% 7.8 3.3
Daniel Jones NYG 21 -8.6% 85 6.2 73% 6.6 2.0
Teddy Bridgewater NO 6 -9.3% 26 5.5 62% 6.8 2.3
Kirk Cousins MIN 3 -9.9% 50 6.5 78% 5.8 2.5
Drew Lock DEN 2 -10.2% 19 6.8 74% 5.5 4.4
Kyler Murray ARI 0 -12.1% 78 6.6 80% 6.7 1.9
Andy Dalton CIN 0 -10.9% 88 6.2 63% 7.7 2.9
Aaron Rodgers GB -10 -17.0% 38 6.3 62% 6.6 3.8
Josh Allen BUF -18 -16.7% 63 6.2 75% 6.6 2.0
Gardner Minshew JAX -31 -18.2% 58 6.1 60% 7.7 3.1
Tom Brady NE -36 -19.1% 84 5.1 65% 6.4 1.9
Carson Wentz PHI -70 -23.0% 85 6.0 68% 6.9 2.2

It's a funny thing about Matt Ryan and the curl -- in 2016 when he was MVP and led the Falcons to the Super Bowl, he was dreadful on curl routes, finishing with exactly zero DYAR. Only five qualifying quarterbacks that season were worse. Since then, he has led the league in curl DYAR every year, but neither he nor his team have been as successful overall. Perhaps performance on the curl is simply not a critical part of Kyle Shanahan's offense -- it certainly wasn't for Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco.

The worst passer on the curl was Philadelphia's Carson Wentz, whose teammate Zach Ertz was last in receiving DYAR on the route. Wentz's struggles went beyond Ertz, however -- he threw curls to 13 different players last year, and only four of them had positive DYAR. Considering how effective the curl was for most passers, that's distressing. The Eagles' best receiver on the curl was tight end Joshua Perkins, who accumulated 12 DYAR on all of two targets.

No quarterback threw more curls than Dallas' Dak Prescott, though he wasn't especially accurate on them, ranking 25th out of 35 qualifiers in catch rate.


Out

Perhaps the curl is not a critical part of Kyle Shanahan's offense. Apparently, however, the out is, because that's where the coach and his quarterback shined most brightly.

Out Route Leaders, 2019
Player Team DYAR DVOA Tgt Yds Catch% PYD YAC
Jimmy Garoppolo SF 147 24.2% 59 8.5 79% 7.6 4.3
Dak Prescott DAL 125 15.2% 69 8.6 72% 9.2 2.5
Drew Brees NO 94 17.7% 43 7.0 86% 5.8 2.3
Philip Rivers LAC 84 8.1% 56 7.5 67% 9.6 1.9
Ryan Tannehill TEN 81 10.9% 46 7.4 70% 10.5 0.9
Matt Ryan ATL 79 0.4% 91 6.6 68% 8.3 1.7
Kirk Cousins MIN 77 14.8% 42 7.4 80% 7.7 1.1
Jared Goff LAR 74 -1.8% 110 7.0 64% 8.6 2.7
Aaron Rodgers GB 71 3.9% 57 7.3 75% 6.9 3.5
Matthew Stafford DET 69 7.2% 46 7.0 70% 8.1 2.4
Gardner Minshew JAX 59 4.6% 46 8.7 67% 7.7 4.9
Jameis Winston TB 56 -4.3% 98 6.8 65% 8.7 1.9
Lamar Jackson BAL 34 0.4% 43 6.9 72% 7.3 2.5
Josh Allen BUF 33 0.5% 34 7.5 68% 9.0 2.0
Jacoby Brissett IND 24 -0.9% 34 5.6 61% 10.1 1.4
Teddy Bridgewater NO 21 -1.0% 27 6.9 74% 7.5 2.1
Tom Brady NE 15 -10.1% 76 6.0 67% 7.5 2.0
Baker Mayfield CLE 12 -9.7% 54 6.1 58% 10.0 1.9
Russell Wilson SEA 7 -7.9% 35 6.6 80% 6.1 2.0
Deshaun Watson HOU 6 -11.1% 66 6.0 68% 6.1 3.3
Ryan Fitzpatrick MIA 5 -10.7% 57 6.0 66% 7.4 2.4
Case Keenum WAS 4 -8.6% 23 6.4 78% 6.3 1.8
Sam Darnold NYJ 2 -11.6% 62 5.8 66% 7.1 2.9
Patrick Mahomes KC 2 -10.6% 49 5.8 63% 6.7 2.6
Kyler Murray ARI 2 -12.1% 43 5.7 70% 6.3 2.2
Dwayne Haskins WAS 0 -11.7% 22 6.2 68% 6.5 2.1
Drew Lock DEN 0 -9.9% 16 7.9 60% 8.3 6.4
Kyle Allen CAR -7 -14.2% 37 5.3 57% 8.5 1.7
Daniel Jones NYG -11 -15.7% 46 6.0 78% 5.8 2.3
Carson Wentz PHI -23 -14.4% 67 6.8 66% 8.3 2.2
Derek Carr OAK -28 -19.0% 46 5.5 63% 7.0 2.3
Andy Dalton CIN -32 -17.4% 78 6.1 61% 8.9 0.9
Mitchell Trubisky CHI -32 -22.4% 43 4.9 62% 7.8 1.4
Mason Rudolph PIT -39 -30.6% 30 5.6 67% 6.6 1.8
Joe Flacco DEN -60 -47.6% 23 4.2 45% 7.2 1.3

Jimmy Garoppolo led the NFL in DYAR and DVOA on out routes, and unlike Matt Ryan and the curl, he didn't get to play with the league's best target on the route. Only one 49ers receiver -- Emmanuel Sanders -- qualified for the receiving leaderboards on the out, and he only saw nine out targets in San Francisco after arriving there via midseason trade. Garoppolo's preferred receiver on the out was tight end George Kittle. Kittle only saw 13 out targets himself, so he failed to qualify for the receivers' leaderboard, but he produced 56 DYAR on those 13 targets, catching 12 of them for 182 yards. Other notable out targets in San Francisco included Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin, and Ross Dwelley, who combined for 78 DYAR on 19 targets.

The worst quarterback on the out was Joe Flacco, and keep in mind he only started eight games in 2019. His completion rate of 45% on those throws was dreadful, and a sign of waning arm strength for a quarterback whose powerful delivery has always been his calling card. On the other hand, Drew Lock, Flacco's replacement in Denver, was no great shakes on the out himself, so this may be a problem that goes deeper than the quarterback.

No passer threw more out routes than Jared Goff of the Rams. Sean McVay often rolls his quarterback out of the pocket, so it makes sense Goff would try a lot of those sideline throws.


Slant

Drew Brees, as you may have heard, is a very, very good quarterback. His DYAR took a hit because he missed five games, but throw-for-throw, nobody was better -- he finished first in passing DVOA with a career-best mark of 39.8%. He led the league in DVOA on curls and was second on outs. It's the slant, though, where he dominated.

Slant Route Leaders, 2019
Player Team DYAR DVOA Tgt Yds Catch% PYD YAC
Drew Brees NO 131 44.8% 29 10.0 93% 5.4 5.2
Derek Carr OAK 129 28.0% 40 10.6 60% 6.6 9.7
Deshaun Watson HOU 122 20.5% 46 8.5 83% 5.9 4.6
Jimmy Garoppolo SF 85 12.4% 49 8.9 69% 6.5 6.3
Russell Wilson SEA 83 24.0% 28 10.4 89% 7.8 3.7
Andy Dalton CIN 77 15.5% 36 7.8 69% 6.9 4.4
Lamar Jackson BAL 63 27.1% 22 9.3 64% 7.5 6.5
Kyler Murray ARI 60 8.1% 35 8.1 68% 5.5 7.0
Jared Goff LAR 58 16.2% 26 8.5 63% 7.0 7.2
Matt Ryan ATL 51 5.3% 37 7.7 67% 7.5 3.5
Teddy Bridgewater NO 51 33.4% 15 6.3 73% 5.3 3.4
Ryan Tannehill TEN 43 14.8% 20 7.0 65% 6.5 4.9
Ryan Fitzpatrick MIA 41 -2.0% 54 7.3 60% 6.9 5.3
Mason Rudolph PIT 40 35.8% 10 13.9 70% 7.3 12.0
Aaron Rodgers GB 37 3.3% 30 6.9 64% 7.6 3.2
Sam Darnold NYJ 32 26.9% 10 6.7 89% 5.1 4.1
Dak Prescott DAL 23 -6.4% 49 7.3 58% 8.0 4.5
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 22 -4.5% 35 5.5 59% 6.3 3.2
Baker Mayfield CLE 21 -7.2% 59 7.3 60% 6.3 5.9
Matthew Stafford DET 20 6.4% 14 5.9 71% 6.5 2.2
Joe Flacco DEN 15 -0.8% 17 7.3 59% 7.0 5.3
Daniel Jones NYG 11 -6.6% 26 7.0 50% 7.4 7.2
Philip Rivers LAC 9 -8.3% 22 6.8 68% 5.8 3.6
Dwayne Haskins WAS 8 -6.7% 16 8.9 50% 7.6 10.0
Kyle Allen CAR 7 -10.1% 43 6.3 63% 6.1 3.6
Jameis Winston TB 7 -8.2% 25 8.0 56% 5.3 7.6
Gardner Minshew JAX 4 -11.2% 34 5.2 52% 5.9 3.6
Tom Brady NE 3 -10.2% 32 7.1 56% 7.1 4.8
Josh Allen BUF 2 -11.6% 28 7.9 57% 7.7 5.9
Drew Lock DEN -11 -25.2% 12 4.8 50% 5.9 3.3
Case Keenum WAS -12 -20.6% 20 5.9 53% 6.9 3.6
Jacoby Brissett IND -31 -44.0% 13 3.5 54% 4.9 2.0
Carson Wentz PHI -36 -22.0% 37 4.8 57% 6.6 2.2
Patrick Mahomes KC -40 -31.6% 24 6.0 58% 7.3 3.4
Kirk Cousins MIN -40 -35.5% 21 7.6 57% 7.6 4.7

Brees led the NFL in slant DYAR despite those five missed games, and he blew away the field in DVOA. It certainly helps that Michael Thomas led the league in receiving DVOA on slants, but that includes 103 DYAR on 26 throws from Brees and only 29 DYAR on 10 throws from Teddy Bridgewater. To say that Thomas was Brees' favorite target on the slant would be a wild understatement -- Brees only threw three other slants all year, two to Jared Cook and one to Taysom Hill.

Two playoff quarterbacks bring up the back of the pack here: Kirk Cousins and, stunningly, Patrick Mahomes. Cousins was actually worse by a decimal point (-39.7 DYAR to -39.6) Both are victims, however, of a bug in the system. Remember, these statistics are based on receiving numbers, which means Cousins and Mahomes are being blamed here for their receivers' fumbles -- two by Minnesota's Stefon Diggs, one by Kansas City's Sammy Watkins. That said, neither quarterback fared especially well in either catch rate or yards per pass on the throw. They may not have been the league's worst passers on out routes, but they weren't particularly good at them either.

Speaking of Cousins, his former offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski is now the head coach in Cleveland, where Baker Mayfield threw a league-high 59 slants. That's likely to change in 2020, considering Cousins only threw 21.


Dig

Well, we have put this off for as long as possible, because we are really, really, really sick of discussing Jameis Winston. And yet we must discuss him again, because no quarterback had better results on the dig route.

Dig Route Leaders, 2019
Player Team DYAR DVOA Tgt Yds Catch% PYD YAC
Jameis Winston TB 151 30.7% 47 10.7 72% 10.8 4.6
Dak Prescott DAL 143 37.0% 42 10.9 78% 10.2 4.5
Jimmy Garoppolo SF 137 25.8% 51 10.4 67% 10.7 4.7
Jared Goff LAR 126 38.1% 36 11.1 61% 13.4 4.4
Philip Rivers LAC 122 20.7% 54 9.2 70% 10.9 2.6
Kyle Allen CAR 121 56.0% 24 12.6 71% 11.6 5.7
Andy Dalton CIN 120 35.5% 37 11.5 67% 10.9 6.3
Derek Carr OAK 117 58.5% 24 12.3 79% 12.0 3.8
Ryan Tannehill TEN 104 45.1% 25 13.3 63% 12.0 10.0
Drew Brees NO 95 62.7% 18 12.5 72% 11.2 6.5
Josh Allen BUF 82 21.6% 35 8.8 63% 11.8 3.0
Baker Mayfield CLE 81 19.0% 35 10.5 59% 11.1 7.4
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 81 32.7% 25 10.3 68% 12.6 2.4
Patrick Mahomes KC 76 37.5% 24 12.7 79% 11.3 4.6
Sam Darnold NYJ 76 28.5% 24 9.7 68% 11.0 3.5
Carson Wentz PHI 73 11.6% 48 7.6 65% 9.1 2.6
Ryan Fitzpatrick MIA 66 5.4% 49 7.4 69% 8.8 2.4
Matt Ryan ATL 54 1.2% 54 7.4 63% 10.6 1.8
Lamar Jackson BAL 45 19.6% 22 9.5 64% 9.2 5.5
Daniel Jones NYG 45 17.0% 21 8.5 81% 8.3 2.5
Deshaun Watson HOU 37 4.3% 29 9.2 55% 11.3 3.9
Dwayne Haskins WAS 29 6.6% 21 8.5 65% 12.0 0.9
Joe Flacco DEN 28 6.9% 19 8.5 63% 8.1 5.0
Gardner Minshew JAX 27 0.9% 27 9.6 59% 10.2 6.3
Russell Wilson SEA 24 11.9% 15 11.1 80% 11.8 1.9
Matthew Stafford DET 18 5.9% 13 10.4 62% 12.8 0.9
Drew Lock DEN 9 -0.1% 12 8.6 50% 11.8 6.2
Tom Brady NE 7 -10.8% 54 7.4 58% 9.6 2.6
Aaron Rodgers GB 7 -5.9% 20 7.3 47% 12.3 3.7
Case Keenum WAS 6 -1.4% 10 7.4 60% 10.1 1.5
Jacoby Brissett IND 5 -10.9% 42 8.0 55% 12.0 3.0
Kirk Cousins MIN 4 -9.6% 27 6.1 59% 8.4 4.3
Mason Rudolph PIT -7 -20.3% 14 9.2 57% 13.2 3.9
Teddy Bridgewater NO -8 -22.7% 8 6.9 38% 13.6 5.0
Kyler Murray ARI -20 -21.7% 25 5.3 48% 10.6 1.7

A lot of conversation in Tampa Bay last year (and, in a related note, conversation about how the Bucs will fare with Tom Brady this year) has focused on separating Winston's performance from that of his receivers. It's noteworthy that Winston finished first in this category as a passer while only one of his wideouts (Mike Evans) made the tables in the same category as a receiver -- and he was pretty much in the middle of that table too. It is also noteworthy, however, that receiving numbers do not include interceptions. Winston, as you may have heard, threw 30 interceptions last year, including three on his 47 dig routes (two of them on throws to Evans). That wasn't the most in the league -- Baker Mayfield threw four -- but it is enough to question whether Winston should really be considered the top passer here. Regardless, we should point out the stellar performance of Tampa Bay's Chris Godwin on the dig: eight catches in nine targets for 158 yards, three touchdowns, and 91 DYAR.

Not faring so well was Arizona's Kyler Murray, the lowest-ranked passer on digs. He average only 5.3 yards on dig throws, worst in this table, and his completion rate wasn't much better.

A trio of veteran quarterbacks -- Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, and Matt Ryan -- tied for the lead with 54 dig throws. Brady's teammate Julian Edelman led the league with 23 targets on dig routes; Rivers' teammate Keenan Allen (21) and Ryan's teammate Julio Jones (20) were right behind.


Flat

When you think of Russell Wilson's greatest strengths, you probably think of his scrambling ability and laser-accurate deep balls. Touch passes to running backs? Not so much, but that's where he outshined everyone else in 2019.

Flat Route Leaders, 2019
Player Team DYAR DVOA Tgt Yds Catch% PYD YAC
Russell Wilson SEA 117 51.6% 29 7.4 97% 0.9 6.7
Kyle Allen CAR 107 39.3% 31 6.8 94% 1.5 5.9
Lamar Jackson BAL 98 45.6% 24 6.0 88% 0.6 6.2
Dak Prescott DAL 46 13.8% 24 6.7 88% 1.9 5.7
Teddy Bridgewater NO 33 36.9% 10 5.6 90% 1.5 5.1
Baker Mayfield CLE 31 7.8% 23 6.5 74% 2.2 7.2
Derek Carr OAK 29 0.0% 38 6.3 87% 1.1 6.2
Kyler Murray ARI 28 7.3% 21 5.8 81% 2.6 4.6
Aaron Rodgers GB 26 -4.4% 47 5.8 87% 1.0 5.6
Josh Allen BUF 25 -0.9% 34 5.8 85% 1.2 5.7
Deshaun Watson HOU 21 -1.3% 33 5.5 79% 1.4 5.9
Jameis Winston TB 20 -1.8% 28 3.9 71% 1.7 3.7
Drew Brees NO 11 -3.0% 20 4.6 80% 1.3 3.8
Philip Rivers LAC 9 -7.4% 24 5.0 83% 0.8 4.9
Drew Lock DEN 9 4.6% 10 5.4 80% 1.4 5.4
Ryan Tannehill TEN 5 -0.5% 10 5.9 90% 1.3 5.3
Carson Wentz PHI 3 -10.4% 38 4.1 84% 1.8 3.3
Case Keenum WAS 3 -8.7% 24 6.6 79% 1.3 6.9
Sam Darnold NYJ 1 -9.8% 26 6.8 85% 1.2 6.8
Jacoby Brissett IND 0 -9.5% 20 6.7 85% 1.8 6.3
Matt Ryan ATL -1 -12.0% 28 5.7 86% 1.5 4.8
Kirk Cousins MIN -2 -14.3% 25 5.9 84% 1.4 5.5
Jimmy Garoppolo SF -4 -15.6% 24 3.8 75% 1.7 3.5
Andy Dalton CIN -6 -15.5% 30 4.0 80% 1.7 3.7
Matthew Stafford DET -8 -19.0% 17 5.1 100% 1.2 3.9
Jared Goff LAR -8 -16.0% 24 4.3 75% 1.4 4.2
Daniel Jones NYG -9 -18.8% 17 3.9 82% 0.9 4.1
Dwayne Haskins WAS -11 -26.8% 11 5.0 73% 0.5 7.0
Mitchell Trubisky CHI -23 -29.0% 25 3.2 68% 1.1 4.1
Gardner Minshew JAX -25 -21.1% 46 5.2 74% 0.6 6.2
Ryan Fitzpatrick MIA -25 -28.3% 26 4.8 88% 1.1 4.5
Joe Flacco DEN -34 -47.0% 13 3.7 77% 0.9 3.5
Mason Rudolph PIT -37 -54.6% 13 3.3 77% 0.8 3.6
Tom Brady NE -43 -32.3% 34 5.0 65% 2.0 6.0
Patrick Mahomes KC -52 -36.9% 33 3.9 73% 0.5 5.2

Chris Carson was third in receiving DYAR on flat routes, but on only nine targets. So who was Wilson targeting on flat routes? Well, everyone -- Carson was one of seven Seahawks with multiple targets on flat routes, including usual downfield threats Tyler Lockett and Will Dissly. Regardless of his intended receiver, though, Wilson was nearly perfect on the throw, completing 28 of 29 passes for 216 yards. He wasn't just checking down in long yardage, either -- 21 of those completions were successful plays, with three touchdowns and eight other first downs.

The worst quarterback on flat routes -- and this is jaw-dropping -- was Patrick Mahomes. Yes! That Patrick Mahomes! He only completed 24 of 33 throws. What happened on those nine incompletions? One was underthrown. Three were tipped by a defensive player at the line or in coverage. The other five were all dropped. That's part of the problem, but even the 24 passes he did complete only averaged 5.3 yards apiece and picked up seven first downs.

No player threw more flats than Aaron Rodgers, and as you'll recall, both Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams were effective targets on the play. Gardner Minshew was right behind him because the Jacksonville offense was often reduced to "crap, I dunno, just dump it off to Fournette."


Drag

Derek Carr quietly had a very good year in 2019, ranking sixth in passing DYAR and eighth in DVOA. That was fueled by his excellence on the drag route, where he produced more value than any other quarterback.

Drag Route Leaders, 2019
Player Team DYAR DVOA Tgt Yds Catch% PYD YAC
Derek Carr OAK 80 28.0% 27 8.9 93% 4.2 5.6
Jared Goff LAR 69 18.3% 31 8.7 65% 4.3 9.3
Patrick Mahomes KC 69 33.5% 20 9.0 95% 3.2 6.4
Kirk Cousins MIN 66 37.8% 19 11.3 84% 3.4 9.7
Jimmy Garoppolo SF 59 30.2% 20 10.7 84% 3.4 9.6
Drew Brees NO 52 22.5% 19 9.1 84% 4.0 6.8
Lamar Jackson BAL 43 9.0% 33 6.8 76% 4.0 4.8
Matt Ryan ATL 35 4.9% 29 6.0 79% 3.9 3.6
Matthew Stafford DET 35 20.4% 15 10.4 87% 3.6 8.4
Aaron Rodgers GB 33 16.3% 16 8.6 94% 3.8 5.5
Baker Mayfield CLE 32 15.6% 15 4.5 67% 3.8 3.5
Russell Wilson SEA 27 4.9% 21 6.6 67% 4.7 5.3
Deshaun Watson HOU 24 16.2% 11 8.3 73% 4.2 6.9
Jacoby Brissett IND 21 -1.5% 34 7.6 64% 4.1 8.3
Dak Prescott DAL 21 -2.8% 30 7.4 73% 4.1 6.0
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 16 2.6% 13 6.1 77% 2.7 5.2
Daniel Jones NYG 9 -5.8% 25 6.2 84% 3.8 3.8
Tom Brady NE 6 -10.5% 37 7.1 67% 3.2 8.0
Carson Wentz PHI 3 -10.7% 19 5.3 68% 3.2 4.3
Dwayne Haskins WAS -4 -23.7% 4 7.3 75% 2.0 6.3
Josh Allen BUF -4 -15.1% 21 6.5 57% 3.4 7.8
Kyler Murray ARI -4 -15.6% 11 4.2 73% 3.5 2.0
Teddy Bridgewater NO -5 -22.4% 8 6.4 75% 3.6 4.5
Joe Flacco DEN -6 -28.6% 4 4.8 50% 5.5 4.5
Philip Rivers LAC -14 -17.9% 38 6.8 63% 3.1 7.8
Mason Rudolph PIT -15 -23.8% 17 7.1 59% 1.4 11.3
Drew Lock DEN -17 -89.9% 3 2.0 33% 1.3 5.0
Kyle Allen CAR -18 -18.3% 32 6.2 68% 2.5 6.5
Andy Dalton CIN -21 -25.3% 20 5.7 65% 3.8 5.2
Case Keenum WAS -25 -50.0% 8 3.3 50% 3.6 3.0
Ryan Tannehill TEN -32 -41.7% 14 4.0 79% 3.4 2.1
Jameis Winston TB -39 -41.5% 16 4.2 63% 3.9 3.2
Ryan Fitzpatrick MIA -42 -43.6% 17 3.5 47% 2.8 5.4
Gardner Minshew JAX -59 -46.8% 22 4.9 59% 4.1 4.5
Sam Darnold NYJ -86 -59.4% 22 4.0 64% 4.5 2.5

Carr completed 25 of his 27 throws on drags, tied with Lamar Jackson for the most completions on this route. One of those incompletions was dropped. Sixteen of those completions picked up first downs, including eight third-down conversions. Hunter Renfrow, Tyrell Williams, and Darren Waller each had 20-plus DYAR on drags.

Carr's counterpart was Sam Darnold, last in this category by a mile despite missing three starts. Darnold only completed 14 of his 22 drags, and only four of those completions picked up first downs. His numbers are also hurt because Robby Anderson fumbled on one of those completions, but he would have been in last place even without that play.

Philip Rivers threw a league-high 38 drags. He'll fit in well in his new home in Indianapolis, where Jacoby Brissett was third with 34 drags.


WR Screens

We mentioned this in the receivers article, but wide receiver screens were way down last year despite the fact that Kliff Kingsbury's Air Raid offense threw a ton of them. The average team threw 31.3 wide receiver screens in 2018, an average that fell to 24.0 in 2019. But that includes Kingsbury's Cardinals, an extreme outlier with 66 screens (including one thrown by Brett Hundley); the Bears were a distant second with 47. Take Arizona out of the equation and the 2019 average drops to 22.6. And, to be fair to Kingsbury, the tactic worked better in Arizona than it did in most other cities -- Kyler Murray was one of eight qualified passers to finish above replacement level on wide receiver screens. He wasn't the top rookie in this category, however; Denver's Drew Lock was third, and Daniel Jones of the Giants was first.

WR Screen Leaders, 2019
Player Team DYAR DVOA Tgt Yds Catch% PYD YAC
Daniel Jones NYG 30 28.7% 10 14.1 80% -1.9 19.9
Ryan Tannehill TEN 25 24.3% 11 11.6 91% -0.2 12.8
Drew Lock DEN 22 47.9% 5 11.4 100% -1.6 13.0
Teddy Bridgewater NO 19 19.9% 7 3.0 100% -2.1 5.1
Philip Rivers LAC 12 4.1% 11 11.5 91% -1.8 14.3
Russell Wilson SEA 5 -8.8% 18 7.7 100% -3.3 11.1
Kyle Allen CAR 5 -9.6% 18 6.2 89% -1.3 8.4
Kyler Murray ARI 1 -12.4% 65 5.4 91% -1.6 7.6
Lamar Jackson BAL 0 -11.3% 9 5.1 100% -0.9 6.0
Case Keenum WAS -3 -16.3% 11 6.7 91% -2.7 10.1
Kirk Cousins MIN -10 -51.6% 5 5.0 80% -0.8 6.5
Andy Dalton CIN -17 -32.1% 13 7.2 92% -1.4 9.0
Ryan Fitzpatrick MIA -18 -76.2% 5 2.2 100% -2.4 4.6
Patrick Mahomes KC -20 -29.9% 15 5.5 80% -1.9 9.1
Drew Brees NO -20 -31.5% 15 4.3 100% -3.5 7.7
Sam Darnold NYJ -23 -25.3% 26 6.5 96% -0.6 7.4
Dwayne Haskins WAS -24 -76.4% 7 4.0 100% -1.4 5.4
Baker Mayfield CLE -25 -23.8% 31 6.6 90% -1.5 9.1
Jameis Winston TB -25 -23.3% 33 5.1 85% -1.1 7.3
Mason Rudolph PIT -29 -56.4% 10 2.8 80% -1.9 5.5
Matt Ryan ATL -29 -29.1% 27 5.3 74% 0.1 7.4
Dak Prescott DAL -30 -60.5% 9 3.6 78% -1.7 6.4
Joe Flacco DEN -30 -144.6% 5 -0.8 60% -3.8 2.3
Matthew Stafford DET -30 -72.6% 8 5.4 100% -1.0 6.4
Jared Goff LAR -37 -25.8% 37 6.4 100% -2.4 8.8
Josh Allen BUF -37 -40.9% 18 4.8 89% -2.2 7.8
Aaron Rodgers GB -38 -25.6% 41 6.4 90% -1.0 8.4
Mitchell Trubisky CHI -48 -29.0% 42 4.6 95% -2.1 7.0
Derek Carr OAK -53 -46.0% 23 5.8 96% -0.8 6.8
Tom Brady NE -56 -62.3% 16 2.5 75% -1.8 4.9
Deshaun Watson HOU -57 -50.7% 26 5.0 100% -3.3 8.3
Gardner Minshew JAX -59 -53.0% 21 3.9 90% -2.4 6.4
Carson Wentz PHI -65 -47.7% 24 4.5 96% -2.0 6.6
Jimmy Garoppolo SF -80 -58.9% 27 5.3 81% -3.4 9.7
Jacoby Brissett IND -86 -55.6% 33 6.8 97% -3.2 10.2

Only three of Jones' completions picked up first downs, but he had a 61-yard touchdown to Golden Tate and a 51-yard completion to Saquon Barkley. Lock only threw five wide receiver screens, but two picked up first downs and two more were successful plays.

Jacoby Brissett of the Colts had the worst luck on WR screens (and since WR screens suck, that's saying quite a bit). It's not his fault that Parris Campbell and Nyheim Hines fumbled on two of those plays, but only five of his 33 screens picked up first downs. It's also surprising to see Jimmy Garoppolo next to last, considering how much the San Francisco offense depends on yards after the catch. Again, though, that's in part due to fumbles on the part of his receivers (one by Deebo Samuel, one by George Kittle).


Deep Cross

This is one of the most dangerous routes in football, and no quarterback used it more effectively in 2019 than Kirk Cousins.

Deep Cross Leaders, 2019
Player Team DYAR DVOA Tgt Yds Catch% PYD YAC
Kirk Cousins MIN 189 117.8% 19 20.8 84% 17.3 8.8
Derek Carr OAK 151 134.5% 14 20.2 93% 14.9 7.1
Russell Wilson SEA 137 94.0% 17 16.5 82% 16.4 3.6
Tom Brady NE 130 74.2% 19 16.2 83% 15.7 4.1
Philip Rivers LAC 127 56.8% 28 13.9 63% 17.0 5.2
Matthew Stafford DET 121 106.1% 13 22.7 85% 16.8 9.5
Drew Brees NO 103 75.3% 16 17.4 67% 13.3 10.6
Jacoby Brissett IND 99 68.2% 17 17.5 71% 16.4 7.5
Ryan Tannehill TEN 98 82.7% 13 16.9 77% 10.5 11.6
Lamar Jackson BAL 94 67.1% 19 15.3 63% 16.6 10.3
Kyler Murray ARI 80 49.0% 17 15.9 53% 16.9 12.4
Sam Darnold NYJ 80 14.3% 37 10.7 56% 14.4 5.6
Kyle Allen CAR 77 40.3% 19 13.9 63% 17.8 6.0
Patrick Mahomes KC 75 28.9% 26 12.3 52% 17.6 7.2
Jared Goff LAR 67 5.8% 44 10.6 51% 15.2 6.1
Deshaun Watson HOU 62 56.9% 11 14.6 73% 20.7 1.8
Josh Allen BUF 56 39.9% 15 13.4 67% 18.7 5.7
Case Keenum WAS 56 78.1% 8 19.6 75% 15.1 12.0
Teddy Bridgewater NO 56 120.9% 5 22.0 100% 18.0 4.0
Jameis Winston TB 54 24.3% 19 12.9 47% 22.5 7.1
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 51 25.0% 18 12.4 50% 19.9 6.1
Dak Prescott DAL 44 20.8% 16 17.5 50% 16.7 16.8
Daniel Jones NYG 44 51.4% 10 15.9 50% 17.2 13.2
Mason Rudolph PIT 43 50.0% 10 12.8 44% 20.4 8.8
Aaron Rodgers GB 38 14.8% 20 11.4 47% 18.1 3.3
Gardner Minshew JAX 27 21.4% 10 10.5 40% 18.2 3.5
Matt Ryan ATL 26 9.1% 17 13.2 56% 15.8 6.3
Drew Lock DEN 21 20.2% 9 11.2 78% 11.3 2.7
Jimmy Garoppolo SF 16 2.1% 20 9.8 50% 13.7 6.5
Carson Wentz PHI 15 4.0% 14 6.9 43% 15.9 1.0
Joe Flacco DEN 9 18.3% 4 10.0 75% 13.3 0.3
Ryan Fitzpatrick MIA 9 -0.4% 11 12.0 55% 13.8 7.5
Baker Mayfield CLE 6 10.5% 4 8.5 50% 17.0 3.0
Dwayne Haskins WAS 0 -14.3% 5 7.6 40% 13.0 10.5
Andy Dalton CIN -23 -41.5% 10 5.8 40% 13.7 2.5

It's funny that Cousins led all passers in deep cross DYAR because none of his teammates hit the six targets needed to qualify for our receiving table. But he completed 16 of his 19 deep crosses for 396 yards. Every one of those completions picked up a first down, including four touchdowns. Adam Thielen caught all four of his targets for 120 yards and two scores; Stefon Diggs caught all three of his for 112 yards and another score. Even the tight ends got involved -- Kyle Rudolph had a 32-yard touchdown; Irv Smith had a 28-yard gain. How much of this was Kirk Cousins, and how much was Kevin Stefanski? If the latter, it could mean big changes for Stefanski's new quarterback -- Baker Mayfield only threw four deep crosses all season. Compare that to Teddy Bridgewater, hardly known for his downfield aggression, who five deep crosses in less than 200 total passes.

Only one qualified passer had negative DYAR on deep crosses: Andy Dalton, who is unlikely to qualify in 2020 as the backup behind Dak Prescott. Dalton only completed four deep crosses all year, all to Tyler Boyd. How long will it take Joe Burrow to top that number? Week 4? Maybe Week 3?

Jared Goff threw 44 deep crosses, seven more than anyone else. His 10.6-yard average on those throws was relatively poor, but his willingness to go to this highly effective route so often boosted his overall stats significantly -- nearly 10% of his total yardage on the year came on the deep cross.


Broken Play

Well, if you read our receivers piece, you know that broken plays mean it's time to talk about Jameis Winston again.

Broken Play Leaders, 2019
Player Team DYAR DVOA Tgt Yds Catch% PYD YAC
Jameis Winston TB 176 98.7% 23 13.1 78% 14.5 4.4
Dak Prescott DAL 79 47.3% 19 10.6 63% 14.0 3.8
Carson Wentz PHI 58 26.0% 21 8.7 67% 12.3 0.9
Gardner Minshew JAX 51 15.6% 28 9.0 44% 10.4 7.5
Lamar Jackson BAL 49 37.4% 15 10.3 73% 11.3 4.3
Tom Brady NE 47 46.6% 11 8.2 82% 7.6 2.3
Ryan Fitzpatrick MIA 30 13.9% 17 8.3 59% 11.5 1.6
Sam Darnold NYJ 25 5.7% 24 7.9 54% 12.0 5.8
Kyler Murray ARI 23 3.6% 19 7.5 63% 12.9 2.4
Dwayne Haskins WAS 19 45.3% 4 7.0 75% 9.3 0.3
Drew Brees NO 16 19.6% 7 5.9 50% 8.6 1.3
Jimmy Garoppolo SF 9 -2.1% 14 5.1 71% 6.1 2.2
Mason Rudolph PIT 8 15.4% 6 9.5 67% 12.3 3.0
Philip Rivers LAC 5 -3.3% 8 5.4 57% 9.4 4.5
Russell Wilson SEA 5 -9.3% 33 5.3 42% 14.6 3.1
Jared Goff LAR 3 -5.5% 5 5.0 40% 9.6 0.5
Drew Lock DEN 3 -5.3% 7 5.6 86% 5.3 2.2
Daniel Jones NYG 3 -8.1% 10 6.6 50% 10.0 3.2
Patrick Mahomes KC 2 -9.4% 20 7.6 50% 12.1 3.4
Matt Ryan ATL 0 -11.4% 17 7.1 56% 10.1 2.0
Mitchell Trubisky CHI -2 -14.5% 18 7.9 41% 13.2 2.7
Case Keenum WAS -4 -15.5% 13 5.6 54% 9.5 1.1
Derek Carr OAK -4 -25.7% 3 5.0 33% 12.7 6.0
Teddy Bridgewater NO -4 -28.3% 4 3.0 75% 4.3 0.0
Ryan Tannehill TEN -6 -20.4% 8 3.6 50% 13.1 3.0
Matthew Stafford DET -7 -71.1% 2 4.0 50% 6.0 0.0
Deshaun Watson HOU -13 -19.8% 22 6.8 50% 12.3 3.9
Joe Flacco DEN -13 -56.1% 5 3.2 40% 15.6 5.0
Andy Dalton CIN -14 -33.5% 8 5.5 71% 5.6 1.6
Baker Mayfield CLE -14 -18.8% 26 5.6 46% 14.0 2.1
Kyle Allen CAR -17 -25.2% 19 5.8 47% 14.0 4.6
Kirk Cousins MIN -25 -50.4% 9 4.6 50% 10.7 -0.3
Jacoby Brissett IND -30 -29.4% 22 5.0 45% 11.6 1.8
Aaron Rodgers GB -38 -21.8% 42 6.8 48% 13.0 3.4
Josh Allen BUF -43 -39.0% 24 5.2 25% 12.1 7.0

Winston lapped the field here, with more than twice as much DYAR as anyone else. Nobody was better last year at escaping pressure and making a big play downfield. And right about now you're probably asking, sure, but how many interceptions did he throw on those broken plays? And that is a very important question, with a very surprising answer: zero. Seriously. His broken play statline: 18-of-23 for 302 yards with six touchdowns, no interceptions, and a perfect NFL passer rating of 158.3. Winston was significantly better throwing the ball when everything went wrong than he was when everything went right. This is not to say the Bucs should have just surrendered pressure every play -- Winston was sacked 47 times, more than twice as often as he attempted a pass on broken plays -- but it's another weird detail of one of the weirder seasons we'll ever see.

In contrast, Buffalo's Josh Allen was much worse on broken plays than he was overall (and he was no great shakes when plays went according to plan, either). Allen only completed six of his 24 broken play throws for 124 yards and one touchdown. And while Winston managed to avoid throwing any interceptions on his broken plays, Allen threw three of them. That's a passer rating of 22.9.

Your leader in broken plays was Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers. That's nothing new -- he had the most broken plays in 2018 too. Despite all that practice, his performance has left a lot to be desired -- he had zero DYAR in 2018 and -38 last year.


Post

When teammates lead the passing and receiving tables in the same category, it raises an obvious chicken-or-egg question: who is more responsible for that success, the quarterback or his wideout? For better or worse, the Houston Texans are about to find out.

Post Route Leaders, 2019
Player Team DYAR DVOA Tgt Yds Catch% PYD YAC
Deshaun Watson HOU 237 129.0% 22 22.2 73% 27.2 6.0
Dak Prescott DAL 172 81.2% 22 18.1 68% 20.4 8.5
Kirk Cousins MIN 120 144.2% 10 22.0 90% 22.4 3.9
Ryan Fitzpatrick MIA 110 95.4% 14 16.9 71% 20.8 2.4
Joe Flacco DEN 109 108.4% 12 19.9 92% 17.1 5.1
Aaron Rodgers GB 98 58.3% 19 18.4 47% 37.3 7.1
Russell Wilson SEA 97 102.2% 12 18.7 55% 27.2 2.5
Ryan Tannehill TEN 92 128.1% 9 25.9 67% 30.8 9.7
Philip Rivers LAC 81 37.6% 24 13.5 52% 27.1 2.5
Jameis Winston TB 68 25.0% 24 10.4 46% 19.4 2.8
Patrick Mahomes KC 66 54.1% 15 15.5 57% 27.5 3.3
Andy Dalton CIN 60 33.9% 18 12.4 50% 19.7 4.9
Case Keenum WAS 54 72.3% 8 17.8 57% 26.9 8.0
Baker Mayfield CLE 47 31.7% 14 12.8 46% 18.4 4.8
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 46 41.3% 13 12.8 50% 22.5 4.0
Lamar Jackson BAL 41 34.4% 13 11.5 31% 26.0 10.8
Matt Ryan ATL 37 13.0% 20 12.6 40% 27.3 8.0
Dwayne Haskins WAS 36 68.3% 6 13.0 67% 26.2 2.3
Derek Carr OAK 34 27.5% 13 16.0 50% 24.3 9.0
Teddy Bridgewater NO 33 99.5% 4 19.5 50% 25.3 2.5
Jacoby Brissett IND 30 87.4% 4 24.8 0% 29.8 0.0
Matthew Stafford DET 22 20.3% 9 10.1 44% 22.7 3.0
Tom Brady NE 22 19.9% 9 13.8 33% 31.1 7.3
Drew Brees NO 18 11.9% 12 10.9 58% 22.0 2.1
Sam Darnold NYJ 18 2.2% 16 10.3 44% 23.5 5.3
Drew Lock DEN 15 211.0% 1 33.0 100% 32.0 1.0
Kyler Murray ARI 12 6.5% 8 12.6 38% 30.1 9.0
Daniel Jones NYG 9 4.5% 7 8.1 43% 23.7 0.0
Jimmy Garoppolo SF 7 -2.2% 10 9.4 33% 23.1 2.3
Gardner Minshew JAX -4 -18.9% 10 6.9 33% 23.6 2.7
Jared Goff LAR -19 -34.1% 13 6.2 31% 17.9 4.5
Mason Rudolph PIT -22 -41.5% 11 5.9 20% 24.3 2.0
Josh Allen BUF -52 -54.8% 17 4.8 19% 29.0 4.7
Kyle Allen CAR -53 -69.2% 12 2.8 17% 26.4 4.0
Carson Wentz PHI -75 -59.5% 21 5.0 24% 20.8 1.8

DeAndre Hopkins led all receivers in targets and DYAR on post routes, and his quarterback Deshaun Watson leads all players at his position in DYAR on the same pattern (though two quarterbacks had more attempts). What happens if we take away Watson's throws to Hopkins? The bad news is that his targets and DYAR plummet to 10 and 129, respectively. The good news is that his DVOA on the throw goes up -- on post throws to Kenny Stills, Will Fuller, and DeAndre Carter, he went 7-of-10 for 279 yards and two touchdowns. (He did throw one interception on a pass to Stills.) For what it's worth, the newest Texans receiver, Brandin Cooks, had 15 DYAR on three post targets last year with the Rams; he was first in post DYAR in 2018.

The worst quarterback on posts was Philadelphia's Carson Wentz. That would have been a huge disappointment coming into the year, because Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson finished second and third in post route DYAR in 2018. Both were injured in 2019, however, with Jackson only playing 65 offensive snaps and Jeffrey fewer than 500. Jackson did not see a single post target all year; Jeffrey saw one, an incompletion, for -2 DYAR. Wentz was left forcing post targets to tight end Zach Ertz (-15 DYAR on nine targets) and rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (-32 on four, all incomplete).

Philip Rivers and Jameis Winston tied for the lead with 24 passes on deep routes. They were not especially high in DYAR, however, and would rank even lower if we accounted for the two interceptions each passer threw on the play.


Fade

Fade routes aren't usually effective, but Patrick Mahomes made them work.

Fade Route Leaders, 2019
Player Team DYAR DVOA Tgt Yds Catch% PYD YAC
Patrick Mahomes KC 54 70.9% 9 17.3 57% 24.7 6.3
Dak Prescott DAL 48 34.9% 13 11.3 42% 19.6 0.6
Gardner Minshew JAX 47 38.6% 11 14.7 44% 23.7 5.3
Matt Ryan ATL 44 80.7% 6 14.8 60% 19.7 2.7
Kyler Murray ARI 38 9.6% 22 8.9 28% 18.1 1.4
Carson Wentz PHI 26 7.1% 18 11.2 35% 25.0 2.3
Deshaun Watson HOU 25 18.6% 12 10.8 42% 23.8 3.2
Kyle Allen CAR 23 24.0% 9 10.7 33% 22.8 4.3
Mason Rudolph PIT 18 20.9% 6 8.2 50% 16.8 0.7
Philip Rivers LAC 17 7.0% 12 8.9 27% 18.6 3.0
Jimmy Garoppolo SF 15 14.8% 6 13.7 33% 17.2 12.0
Dwayne Haskins WAS 13 30.5% 4 15.0 50% 27.3 2.0
Lamar Jackson BAL 12 16.9% 5 14.4 40% 27.4 1.0
Jameis Winston TB 10 -5.8% 20 7.7 28% 22.5 0.6
Kirk Cousins MIN 8 3.7% 7 5.1 29% 17.4 0.0
Case Keenum WAS 8 -1.2% 8 9.9 33% 19.3 4.5
Ryan Fitzpatrick MIA 5 -11.3% 27 8.6 28% 20.9 3.4
Drew Brees NO 3 -8.0% 11 7.6 30% 18.1 6.3
Sam Darnold NYJ 1 -10.6% 6 7.8 20% 18.2 1.0
Tom Brady NE -7 -20.3% 14 6.9 17% 20.6 1.0
Ryan Tannehill TEN -8 -21.7% 10 6.0 22% 24.6 2.5
Derek Carr OAK -13 -24.3% 13 8.0 23% 24.9 9.3
Jacoby Brissett IND -17 -43.3% 7 4.3 29% 16.6 1.5
Teddy Bridgewater NO -20 -115.9% 2 0.0 0% 14.0 0.0
Drew Lock DEN -23 -56.2% 7 5.3 14% 23.1 4.0
Baker Mayfield CLE -25 -33.3% 15 5.1 23% 16.8 4.3
Josh Allen BUF -28 -45.0% 12 6.4 25% 25.6 2.3
Jared Goff LAR -39 -88.3% 7 7.1 14% 20.3 14.0
Joe Flacco DEN -43 -88.8% 7 1.3 0% 24.9 0.0
Andy Dalton CIN -55 -50.4% 19 6.1 21% 17.2 5.5
Daniel Jones NYG -60 -49.2% 21 5.2 14% 23.6 14.3
Aaron Rodgers GB -65 -55.2% 19 5.0 11% 22.1 16.0
Matthew Stafford DET -72 -72.8% 15 2.7 7% 22.5 0.0
Mitchell Trubisky CHI -75 -60.1% 20 4.8 15% 21.4 1.7
Russell Wilson SEA -85 -70.1% 19 2.0 11% 17.3 0.0

Mahomes only threw nine fade routes all season (we hope you are enjoying tonight's presentation of Small Sample Size Theater…), but he made them count, completing four of them for 119 yards and adding a pair of DPIs for 37 more yards. And yes, it's reassuring to see Mahomes on top of one of these tables.

It's strange, however, to see Russell Wilson at the bottom of one of these tables. As mentioned when we looked at receivers, DK Metcalf was the worst target in the league on fades (one completion in 11 throws), which goes a long way in explaining Wilson's struggles here. Wilson attempted eight fades to other receivers, however, and he only completed one of those too. Well, at least both receptions resulted in touchdowns.

Miami's DeVante Parker had the most targets on fade routes, so naturally Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick led the league in fade throws with 27. Whatever success Fitzpatrick had, however, came on those throws to Parker (6-of-15, 180 yards, three touchdowns, one interception). Fitzpatrick's other 12 fade attempts resulted in just one completion for 14 yards and two DPIs for 37 more yards.


Go/Fly

Kirk Cousins struggled on slants, but between the deep post and the go/fly, he was one hell of a mad bomber.

Go/Fly Route Leaders, 2019
Player Team DYAR DVOA Tgt Yds Catch% PYD YAC
Kirk Cousins MIN 171 110.5% 18 23.4 50% 36.9 9.3
Matt Ryan ATL 96 79.8% 13 20.8 50% 31.8 1.8
Mason Rudolph PIT 85 39.7% 23 14.9 32% 33.0 2.3
Russell Wilson SEA 85 51.7% 17 18.9 41% 34.6 5.9
Matthew Stafford DET 58 55.6% 14 13.7 31% 34.7 8.3
Jameis Winston TB 56 6.1% 39 13.7 27% 33.2 9.6
Aaron Rodgers GB 54 18.0% 22 12.4 30% 28.5 11.2
Patrick Mahomes KC 52 42.9% 12 15.3 42% 36.3 3.2
Kyler Murray ARI 48 24.8% 18 14.3 31% 28.8 9.8
Ryan Tannehill TEN 44 85.8% 6 22.8 40% 37.0 10.5
Lamar Jackson BAL 43 45.2% 10 18.2 38% 35.7 2.0
Derek Carr OAK 23 45.1% 6 14.7 50% 27.5 2.0
Gardner Minshew JAX 16 10.3% 9 16.8 33% 34.6 10.3
Jared Goff LAR 16 7.3% 13 11.7 31% 28.4 5.3
Teddy Bridgewater NO 15 95.0% 2 21.0 50% 31.5 14.0
Drew Lock DEN 14 77.4% 2 13.0 50% 35.5 0.0
Sam Darnold NYJ 12 12.6% 7 10.6 20% 30.4 8.0
Ryan Fitzpatrick MIA 11 -1.3% 15 11.1 29% 32.5 5.3
Josh Allen BUF 10 -2.8% 17 10.3 20% 32.4 12.7
Deshaun Watson HOU 9 -5.0% 14 10.5 29% 35.9 2.3
Jacoby Brissett IND 8 -4.0% 12 11.8 18% 41.0 2.5
Joe Flacco DEN 7 6.0% 5 13.0 25% 28.6 2.0
Jimmy Garoppolo SF 7 36.1% 2 14.0 0% 35.5 0.0
Baker Mayfield CLE 1 -12.4% 13 9.5 18% 34.5 3.5
Kyle Allen CAR -3 -14.7% 19 10.5 18% 34.7 5.0
Dwayne Haskins WAS -9 -109.4% 1 0.0 0% 33.0 0.0
Dak Prescott DAL -11 -20.5% 19 9.1 22% 34.8 2.0
Tom Brady NE -14 -35.8% 8 7.4 0% 35.4 0.0
Drew Brees NO -18 -53.2% 5 8.2 20% 30.0 6.0
Andy Dalton CIN -18 -35.7% 10 10.9 30% 33.6 7.7
Philip Rivers LAC -21 -31.6% 15 8.3 14% 32.5 13.0
Case Keenum WAS -26 -121.8% 3 0.0 0% 36.0 0.0
Daniel Jones NYG -30 -55.6% 9 3.1 11% 29.9 2.0
Mitchell Trubisky CHI -35 -102.0% 5 0.0 0% 33.6 0.0
Carson Wentz PHI -79 -79.7% 15 4.9 7% 34.9 0.0

Cousins' success, however, was almost entirely based on throws to Stefon Diggs. He only threw three other go/flies all year, completing just one, a 58-yard touchdown to Laquon Treadwell. With Diggs in Buffalo and Treadwell in Atlanta, Cousins only had two go/fly targets all year to players still on Minnesota's roster: one incompletion to Alexander Hollins and another to Olabisi Johnson.

This is the third route where the quarterback with the worst success was Philadelphia's Carson Wentz. Nelson Agholor was also the worst target on the route, but Wentz fared no better on throws to anyone else -- his nine other attempts resulted in zero completions, one 49-yard DPI (to Boston Scott, of all people), and one interception.

And oh, look, there's Jameis Winston with notable stats, throwing 16 more go/fly attempts than anyone else. Only Mason Rudolph (!) and Aaron Rodgers threw even half as many as Winston. Winston's staggering go/fly numbers: 10 completions for 458 yards and two touchdowns; two DPIs for 76 more yards; 25 incompletions; and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

All right, this article is about done, let's put Winston aside and move on to somebody else.


Seam

OH, COME ON.

Seam Route Leaders, 2019
Player Team DYAR DVOA Tgt Yds Catch% PYD YAC
Jameis Winston TB 129 55.4% 29 14.1 64% 18.9 4.6
Matt Ryan ATL 107 85.4% 16 16.0 69% 15.0 8.9
Russell Wilson SEA 98 54.9% 25 12.0 65% 15.8 3.9
Ryan Tannehill TEN 98 141.9% 10 25.7 90% 22.0 7.4
Daniel Jones NYG 94 104.5% 12 17.3 58% 20.3 5.3
Carson Wentz PHI 91 58.7% 19 13.5 53% 22.0 3.9
Kyler Murray ARI 78 65.8% 15 14.1 60% 21.3 2.2
Lamar Jackson BAL 73 38.2% 23 11.0 48% 18.9 4.7
Aaron Rodgers GB 67 59.8% 14 12.2 50% 21.3 1.7
Deshaun Watson HOU 65 60.5% 13 13.1 62% 18.5 5.0
Josh Allen BUF 55 67.9% 10 11.0 56% 20.1 2.6
Jimmy Garoppolo SF 46 76.8% 8 14.4 63% 16.8 4.4
Baker Mayfield CLE 42 14.5% 21 14.1 45% 18.0 8.7
Patrick Mahomes KC 40 34.0% 13 14.5 38% 19.6 14.6
Jared Goff LAR 38 130.9% 4 22.3 75% 22.3 6.0
Tom Brady NE 37 10.7% 25 8.8 38% 20.2 1.8
Dak Prescott DAL 36 24.7% 16 9.4 38% 24.1 4.7
Ryan Fitzpatrick MIA 33 24.3% 16 9.1 44% 19.3 2.7
Gardner Minshew JAX 27 118.1% 3 16.0 67% 22.0 4.0
Drew Brees NO 27 17.7% 13 10.0 46% 18.4 1.3
Sam Darnold NYJ 26 101.1% 3 14.7 67% 23.3 1.5
Derek Carr OAK 23 28.1% 8 14.6 50% 23.1 3.3
Philip Rivers LAC 16 6.3% 15 8.2 50% 16.7 2.7
Joe Flacco DEN 12 11.1% 8 8.0 50% 14.4 4.0
Kirk Cousins MIN 4 0.4% 7 9.3 33% 20.1 2.5
Kyle Allen CAR 2 -8.8% 13 9.8 33% 17.8 8.8
Matthew Stafford DET 2 -7.9% 12 8.0 33% 18.1 6.8
Drew Lock DEN 1 3.7% 3 4.7 33% 16.3 0.0
Dwayne Haskins WAS -4 -34.8% 2 3.5 0% 14.5 0.0
Mason Rudolph PIT -5 -32.7% 4 7.8 50% 17.8 3.0
Andy Dalton CIN -5 -15.4% 10 6.2 33% 18.8 0.7
Teddy Bridgewater NO -6 -95.3% 1 0.0 0% 20.0 0.0
Case Keenum WAS -16 -76.1% 4 3.0 25% 19.3 0.0
Jacoby Brissett IND -28 -56.3% 8 6.6 17% 26.3 6.0
Mitchell Trubisky CHI -31 -44.5% 14 6.1 21% 20.4 8.0

Sigh…

Jameis Winston led all passers with 29 seam throws and 129 DYAR on the play. His full numbers on those throws: 18-of-28 for 390 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, plus a DPI for 20 more yards.

The seam was an effective route for almost everyone, but not for Mitchell Trubisky. He only completed three of his 14 seam throws for a total of 86 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Perhaps this is why Chicago added a gazillion tight ends this offseason -- Trubisky wasn't getting it done with the Trey Burtons and the Ben Brauneckers of the world.


Corner

We close with the corner, where Drew Brees was literally perfect.

Corner Route Leaders, 2019
Player Team DYAR DVOA Tgt Yds Catch% PYD YAC
Drew Brees NO 116 180.5% 8 21.1 100% 16.4 5.6
Matthew Stafford DET 105 112.5% 11 22.5 73% 26.9 4.8
Jameis Winston TB 97 86.6% 13 16.1 75% 18.8 3.8
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 84 82.3% 12 16.1 67% 20.0 2.1
Gardner Minshew JAX 70 101.4% 8 12.9 71% 16.4 2.8
Deshaun Watson HOU 64 36.8% 18 10.6 50% 22.4 4.6
Kyler Murray ARI 59 64.5% 11 15.2 55% 23.5 2.3
Joe Flacco DEN 58 82.3% 8 20.8 50% 21.4 17.0
Lamar Jackson BAL 56 63.9% 11 10.9 45% 23.0 0.6
Derek Carr OAK 49 35.1% 14 10.6 50% 17.2 6.3
Jimmy Garoppolo SF 48 32.5% 13 10.4 54% 16.3 3.1
Patrick Mahomes KC 44 25.2% 19 11.1 44% 19.7 5.1
Drew Lock DEN 41 91.1% 5 14.8 67% 16.6 0.0
Daniel Jones NYG 34 27.1% 12 10.5 67% 14.3 2.6
Jacoby Brissett IND 30 26.1% 10 9.5 50% 14.5 5.6
Philip Rivers LAC 29 4.9% 26 8.2 44% 22.5 1.4
Case Keenum WAS 29 57.6% 5 15.6 60% 19.6 2.7
Carson Wentz PHI 21 11.4% 14 10.8 46% 17.8 3.0
Ryan Fitzpatrick MIA 18 22.7% 8 11.0 50% 20.0 4.3
Matt Ryan ATL 15 2.1% 17 8.6 47% 18.2 2.1
Baker Mayfield CLE 11 -3.1% 19 8.7 39% 20.0 2.0
Aaron Rodgers GB 11 5.4% 10 13.2 44% 24.5 3.5
Jared Goff LAR 3 -8.9% 20 8.2 40% 18.5 2.5
Teddy Bridgewater NO 3 -1.8% 4 11.0 50% 17.0 7.5
Dak Prescott DAL 1 -8.5% 8 10.0 38% 22.8 8.0
Andy Dalton CIN -3 -15.7% 9 8.9 33% 21.6 6.0
Mason Rudolph PIT -5 -79.2% 1 0.0 0% 17.0 0.0
Ryan Tannehill TEN -10 -48.2% 4 5.0 25% 29.0 0.0
Kyle Allen CAR -13 -18.9% 22 7.1 41% 18.2 1.2
Josh Allen BUF -15 -22.7% 13 8.1 31% 19.3 7.8
Dwayne Haskins WAS -20 -35.4% 10 3.1 30% 19.5 0.0
Kirk Cousins MIN -21 -31.7% 11 4.7 20% 20.8 9.0
Russell Wilson SEA -24 -28.4% 18 5.4 29% 15.1 0.4
Tom Brady NE -41 -73.1% 9 2.6 11% 22.0 1.0
Sam Darnold NYJ -42 -65.4% 11 2.4 18% 25.7 0.0

Brees only threw eight corner passes in 2019, but every last one of them resulted in a first down. Seven were completed for 145 yards and four (!) touchdowns; the eighth was a DPI for 24 more yards.

You know who wasn't perfect on corner routes? Sam Darnold. He only completed two of his 11 throws, with as many touchdowns (one) as interceptions.

Philip Rivers led the NFL in corner attempts. He wasn't terribly effective on those attempts, but hey, good effort.


Winston vs. Brady

Since we've been talking about Jameis Winston all year day, I wanted to devote just a little more space to his performance in 2019 and his replacement in 2020, Tom Brady. Looking at their performances on each route paints a picture of just what a radical change the Tampa Bay offense is about to undergo. Naturally, when you ignore interceptions, Winston's performance was better almost across the board -- Brady only had the edge in drags and deep crosses. But what's really striking is the differences in which routes each quarterback throws most frequently. If Brady plays true to form, you can expect a ton more drags in Raymond James Stadium this fall, with boosts in slants, digs, and flats as well. However, you're going to see far fewer go/flies, outs, posts, and broken plays … and, in good news for Bucs fans, fewer wide receiver screens.

Tom Brady vs. Jameis Winston by Route, 2019
  Tom Brady Jameis Winston
  DYAR DVOA Tgt DYAR DVOA Tgt
Curl -36 -19.1% 84 72 0.3% 81
Out 15 -10.1% 76 56 -4.3% 98
Slant 3 -10.2% 32 7 -8.2% 25
Dig 7 -10.8% 54 151 30.7% 47
Flat -43 -32.3% 34 20 -1.8% 28
Drag 6 -10.5% 37 -39 -41.5% 16
WR Screen -56 -62.3% 16 -25 -23.3% 33
Deep Cross 130 74.2% 19 54 24.3% 19
Broken Play 47 46.6% 11 176 98.7% 23
Post 22 19.9% 9 68 25.0% 24
Fade -7 -20.3% 14 10 -5.8% 20
Go/Fly -14 -35.8% 8 56 6.1% 39
Seam 37 10.7% 25 129 55.4% 29
Corner -41 -73.1% 9 97 86.6% 13

Comments

13 comments, Last at 31 Aug 2020, 8:30pm

1 I wonder if there's any kind…

I wonder if there's any kind of way to allocate sacks/scrambles to different routes. By definition, probably not, since the ball never gets thrown... but I imagine that deeper routes lead to more sacks, and shorter play designs prevent sacks.

Useless speculatory comment, but hey... first!

2 Winston was significantly…

Winston was significantly better throwing the ball when everything went wrong than he was when everything went right.

There is some Eli Manning here -- where he used to struggle all game until the 2-minute warning, when he suddenly shined in hurry-up. 

Maybe just stop calling plays and let him playground some stuff up. It worked for Rodgers, and it might work for Wilson, too.

The numbers do suggest why Winston is so divisive -- he turns the ball over comically frequently. But when he doesn't -- he puts up huge numbers on a lot of patterns. He's definitely of the mad-bomber school of passing, and probably slots somewhere between early Fitzpatrick and early Favre. Or between Bad Jay Cutler and Good Jay Cutler.

He would be a fascinating backup to Aaron Rodgers, but his sweetspot is probably on a bad team that doesn't quite want to tank. Or something like Chicago, whose defense is probably good enough to survive his turnover-fests, but would benefit from an actual warm body under center.

6 Winston is like when…

Winston is like when gundpowder weapons were first introduced into warfare....devastating to the opposition when they worked properly, but also just as likely to malfunction/blow up and be devastating to the users.

I don’t know about having him be your starter for the whole season, but he’s so high-variance from throw to throw, that he’d be the perfect starter against a team you know is clearly superior to you.

I desperately wish the Charger had signed him.  He would have been a decent placeholder until Herbert is ready....and he would have made the Chargers even more entertaining to watch (from a both positive and negative standpoint) than already have been for the last 15 years.

13 Nobody needs to keep beating…

Nobody needs to keep beating the dead Jay Cutler horse, but I will anyway because it's fun - he wasn't a mad bomber or ever all that productive. His career Y/A is barely average for his era (and was only just above-average even in Denver), he never threw for a lot of yards or touchdowns, and wasn't really ever a good deep passer. He was talented, but mostly just careless with little of the upside he might have brought to the field if he was actually aggressive.

3 is QB DVOA additive?

Like if you computed the weighted DVOA x target for each of these routes, then had one for runs, one for sacks, and one for "passes for which the route could not be determined" (throw aways, batted at the line, horrific picks) would you get the season total?

Asking because (although I did not try to weight them in my head) the average leaderboard here doesn't really look like the season total leaderboard.  

 

4 That's a good question…

That's a good question. Looking at Brady & Winston passing stats alone...

Based on the tables at the end, Brady's weighted average DVOA and total DYAR are -10.8% and 70, while Winston's are 11.2% and 495, neither of which are close to their 2019 season totals (2.4% and 550 for Brady, -9.0% and 92 for Winston). Also, both of them had over 600 passes for the season, while their targets for these tables are both under 500. What's up with the discrepancies?

5 Most of these questions are…

Most of these questions are answered in the third paragraph. Remember that passing DVOA =/= receiving DVOA -- there are no sacks, no penalties for interceptions, the baselines and opponent adjustments are totally different, etc.

As far as the sample sizes, these are only the numbers for the 14 pass routes that had at least 400 targets across the league. SIS charted over 40 types of routes including combo routes (chip-curl, chip-drag, chip-flat, etc.) There were 4,614 throws on these other routes -- about 144 per team.

7 Oh, and to answer this…

Oh, and to answer this question:

"Like if you computed the weighted DVOA x target for each of these routes, then had one for runs, one for sacks, and one for "passes for which the route could not be determined" (throw aways, batted at the line, horrific picks) would you get the season total?"

The answer, if you did have all passing data for all routes, would be "not really but close enough." This is the process I used to calculate multiple-season DVOA in the Quick Reads decade in review pieces. Technically you would need to calculate multiple variables for multiple seasons to do that "correctly," but just doing an average weighted by number of attempts is way faster and gives you virtually the same results.

9 Interceptions not included…

Interceptions not included. I can see why that’s the case, since you are working from receiving DVOA.

Interceptions are hugely important. Would it be possible to get interceptions thrown by route type? Or do you just not have that data? It would be okay if there were a few “unknown/not applicable” for balls tipped at the line and intercepted.

10 Most INTs by route type:  …

Most INTs by route type:

 

Curl: J.Winston, 7

Out: J.Winston/S.Darnold, 4

Slant: B.Mayfield, 4

Dig: B.Mayfield, 4

Flat: L.Falk/J.Goff/M.Barkley/D.Watson/J.Flacco, 1

Drag: P.Rivers, 2

WR screen: R.Tannehill/M.Ryan, 1

Deep cross: S.Darnold/K.Murray, 3

Broken play: J.Allen, 3

Post: B.Mayfield/J.Allen/M.Ryan, 3

Fade: D.Watson/M.Stafford, 2

Go/fly: B.Mayfield/M.Stafford, 3

Seam: T.Brady, 3

Corner: J.Goff, 3

 

8 What do I make of the catch rates?

Looking at the charts, I see some pretty spectacular differences in catch rates. (A 41% spread on outs? Yikes!) So it makes me wonder, how much of this is signal and how much noise? How do I tell whether it was because the QB could not throw or the receivers could not catch? Or is the sample size too small to draw any conclusion at all.

So how do I know what is really reliable information in this? Teddy Bridgewater had 8 passes into dig routes, which makes me wonder about small sample size, for example.

11 Catch rates

IMO, while a study might be worth it, you definitely run into sample size issues. A multi-year study for a receiver or QB might produce better results.

Besides sample size, you might run into the following: QB doesn't have the skill to throw route X regularly well (think more difficult throws), so he only throws it when his receiver is wide open, or it's his best receiver 1v1 and he has to unload the ball to avoid a sack. That's a lot of noise.

If the same QB throws 50+ of those routes in a year, and completes 10%+ above or below the NFL average, then I think you might have some signal.

12 Rodgers' lack of production…

Rodgers' lack of production on dig routes compared to peers in similar offenses (Garoppolo, Goff) stands out to me, plus the obviously-diminishing returns he's finding from hanging on to the ball on broken plays.