DVOA by Route: Aaron Rodgers' Best Plays

Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Aaron Rodgers won this third MVP award last season, and he did it in part by avoiding the throw that other quarterbacks attempt most often. While most passers are often content to make safe throws with little upside, Rodgers thrived by forcing defenses to chase receivers running across the field on shallow patterns, then blowing them up with bombs down the sidelines.

Last week, we looked at the most common routes in the 2020 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're looking at the guys who are throwing those passes.

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 40 curl routes, for example, but 30 players threw at least that many curls last season. We can more accurately measure Patrick Mahomes' ability to throw the curl route than we can Travis Kelce'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, Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles 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, interceptions are not penalized more than any other incomplete pass.

That last caveat barely applies to Rodgers, who only threw five interceptions all season long. That's a big reason he was last season's leader in passing DVOA. But he got there in a very unusual way. As mentioned, the most frequently targeted route in the NFL is the curl. It's a short, simple throw that leads to a lot of easy completions. Rodgers, however, threw only 33 curls in 510 targeted passes. That's a rate of 6.5%, which was the lowest of any qualified passer. He also avoided some of the most common in-breaking routes such as digs, slants, and posts.

Here's a look at the passes Rodgers was throwing. The following table shows his DYAR, DVOA, and target share last season on each of the league's 13 most common routes:

Aaron Rodgers' Performance on NFL's Most Common Routes, 2020
Route DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Tgt% Rk
Go/Fly 179 1 115.7% 5 3.7% 4
Deep Cross 150 4 104.8% 3 3.5% 19
Drag 124 1 38.4% 1 6.1% 7
Flat 118 1 37.6% 1 6.5% 15
Fade 75 5 38.5% 12 3.9% 5
Broken Play 52 9 6.6% 11 7.6% 7
Dig 52 15 22.8% 10 3.7% 33
Curl 44 26 11.2% 5 6.5% 36
Corner 41 12 42.3% 8 2.2% 24
Post 32 17 33.8% 17 1.8% 29
Out 26 19 -6.4% 23 10.0% 22
WR/TE Screen -4 11 -13.2% 10 9.0% 5
Slant -18 29 -19.3% 29 5.5% 32

Rodgers dominated on shallow, horizontal patterns, finishing first in DYAR on both drag and flat routes. He also loved going deep to the outside, ranking first in DYAR on go/fly routes and near the top in fades as well. Along with the occasional deep cross, those were the patterns where Rodgers made the bulk of his good throws. Meanwhile, he only had negative DYAR on two routes: WR/TE screens (where he still fared better than average) and, surprisingly, slants—perhaps there's a reason he rarely threw them.

To qualify for the following tables, quarterbacks must have had at least 200 dropbacks (including sacks and defensive pass interference penalties) in 2020. This left us with 36 qualified passers.  We then added three other players—San Francisco's Jimmy Garoppolo, New Orleans' Taysom Hill, and Philadelphia's Jalen Hurts—who had at least 100 dropbacks and may end up starting this fall. 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 2020. Each table is sorted by descending DYAR.

Curls

Buffalo's Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley ranked second and third among receivers in curl route DVOA, so it's no surprise to see the Bills' quarterback atop the passing table.

Curl Route Leaders, 2020
Player Tm DYAR DVOA Tgt% Yds Catch% aDOT YAC
17-J.Allen BUF 188 11.3% 18.7% 833 85% 7.1 2.7
1-K.Murray ARI 166 10.2% 19.0% 791 79% 6.8 3.3
2-M.Ryan ATL 132 8.2% 15.0% 705 78% 6.8 2.9
4-D.Watson HOU 128 21.4% 10.2% 475 91% 6.3 3.3
4-D.Carr LV 109 16.0% 11.8% 476 74% 6.3 4.3
14-R.Fitzpatrick MIA 106 15.3% 19.7% 452 75% 7.7 4.1
17-P.Rivers IND 105 7.9% 14.1% 562 75% 7.8 2.3
17-R.Tannehill TEN 104 7.5% 16.2% 560 78% 6.7 2.8
16-J.Goff LAR 98 3.2% 16.2% 665 75% 6.5 3.9
10-J.Herbert LAC 93 2.7% 15.7% 683 78% 6.7 2.9
15-P.Mahomes KC 89 1.9% 17.2% 746 75% 6.8 3.3
3-R.Wilson SEA 82 4.2% 13.1% 503 77% 6.6 2.9
6-B.Mayfield CLE 82 9.2% 12.9% 472 76% 7.5 2.6
8-K.Cousins MIN 79 9.1% 11.0% 435 77% 7.7 3.2
12-T.Brady TB 76 3.0% 12.1% 532 70% 7.6 2.6
10-M.Trubisky CHI 73 8.0% 16.2% 344 79% 6.9 3.1
5-T.Bridgewater CAR 68 5.5% 11.5% 392 80% 6.5 2.6
4-D.Prescott DAL 52 6.1% 17.7% 288 79% 6.6 3.2
1-T.Tagovailoa MIA 52 5.4% 13.4% 273 76% 7.2 2.4
9-J.Burrow CIN 50 1.6% 13.4% 370 85% 6.6 2.3
9-D.Brees NO 50 0.8% 14.3% 416 80% 6.3 3.0
8-L.Jackson BAL 48 3.2% 12.3% 324 73% 6.0 3.6
4-N.Mullens SF 46 7.3% 11.7% 279 68% 7.0 4.2
14-A.Dalton DAL 45 -1.0% 17.0% 392 71% 7.9 2.8
9-M.Stafford DET 45 -1.4% 10.0% 339 71% 7.7 1.9
12-A.Rodgers GB 44 11.2% 6.5% 265 85% 6.4 3.3
8-D.Jones NYG 39 -3.7% 15.9% 455 74% 7.6 1.6
15-G.Minshew JAX 36 -0.6% 14.6% 310 87% 5.6 2.7
10-J.Garoppolo SF 29 14.6% 11.4% 113 75% 6.7 2.8
7-D.Haskins WAS 12 -4.5% 11.3% 200 67% 6.8 4.4
3-D.Lock DEN 11 -8.8% 12.6% 357 73% 6.5 2.8
1-C.Newton NE 8 -10.0% 13.5% 330 71% 6.9 2.7
2-J.Hurts PHI 6 -2.2% 7.2% 52 60% 8.5 2.0
7-T.Hill NO 6 -7.5% 14.2% 116 71% 8.1 2.3
9-N.Foles CHI 5 -10.1% 16.1% 301 78% 5.7 2.6
11-C.Wentz PHI -2 -12.5% 12.1% 320 67% 7.0 2.8
11-A.Smith WAS -5 -12.4% 12.1% 177 72% 5.3 3.2
14-S.Darnold NYJ -28 -21.7% 11.8% 200 61% 7.0 1.8
7-B.Roethlisberger PIT -92 -33.2% 9.9% 346 64% 6.2 2.8

Josh Allen threw the curl often, ranking third in target rate, and he threw it well, ranking fifth in DVOA. Allen was not the most efficient passer on the play. That would be Houston's Deshaun Watson, but he didn't throw the route nearly as often. Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger had the worst luck on the curl, ranking last in both DYAR and DVOA. Perhaps that's why he didn't throw it more often—Rodgers was the only full-timer who threw curls less frequently.

Miami's Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a curl on a league-high 19.7% of his throws; we'll see if he throws the curl that often in Washington, where both Alex Smith and Dwayne Haskins were below average in target rate.

Out

Again we see a high correlation between receiver and passer on a given route. Travis Kelce led all receivers in DYAR on the out, and Patrick Mahomes finished first when throwing the same play.

Out Route Leaders, 2020
Player Tm DYAR DVOA Tgt% Yds Catch% aDOT YAC
15-P.Mahomes KC 173 33.3% 9.9% 553 77% 8.4 4.9
2-M.Ryan ATL 143 14.1% 11.6% 575 74% 8.6 2.2
8-K.Cousins MIN 139 26.0% 9.5% 404 79% 8.8 2.0
12-T.Brady TB 107 6.2% 13.5% 562 70% 7.1 2.7
1-K.Murray ARI 103 9.5% 11.2% 383 80% 6.7 1.4
5-T.Bridgewater CAR 92 11.4% 11.1% 446 73% 8.4 3.9
16-J.Goff LAR 89 5.7% 12.8% 524 73% 7.6 3.6
17-P.Rivers IND 89 19.4% 8.0% 384 67% 9.7 3.7
9-D.Brees NO 88 12.5% 12.5% 404 77% 7.8 3.2
15-G.Minshew JAX 85 28.8% 8.5% 254 77% 9.5 2.8
14-A.Dalton DAL 78 15.0% 12.3% 309 83% 7.7 2.0
1-C.Newton NE 58 9.6% 10.1% 285 75% 9.1 2.2
17-J.Allen BUF 51 0.0% 10.1% 377 80% 6.7 2.1
6-B.Mayfield CLE 37 -3.8% 14.4% 486 70% 7.6 2.7
17-R.Tannehill TEN 33 -5.1% 13.3% 418 64% 9.1 1.5
2-J.Hurts PHI 29 3.5% 20.1% 217 64% 7.4 3.8
4-D.Watson HOU 29 -5.8% 12.5% 456 71% 7.1 2.6
3-R.Wilson SEA 28 -1.3% 6.7% 221 75% 6.1 2.1
9-M.Stafford DET 27 -5.0% 10.4% 371 70% 7.5 3.1
12-A.Rodgers GB 26 -6.4% 10.0% 273 78% 5.8 1.8
10-J.Garoppolo SF 24 6.5% 16.4% 128 78% 4.5 2.2
11-A.Smith WAS 19 -1.6% 10.0% 184 83% 6.8 2.2
7-B.Roethlisberger PIT 17 -8.9% 10.4% 460 77% 6.5 3.1
11-C.Wentz PHI 16 -7.8% 14.3% 386 64% 8.0 2.1
1-T.Tagovailoa MIA 16 -1.6% 6.6% 138 74% 7.3 2.0
14-R.Fitzpatrick MIA 15 -0.5% 6.6% 99 71% 6.2 2.8
4-D.Prescott DAL 14 -5.1% 11.4% 170 68% 8.1 2.3
7-T.Hill NO 4 -5.6% 10.8% 103 67% 8.6 2.3
4-D.Carr LV -6 -13.1% 8.8% 306 80% 6.2 3.1
14-S.Darnold NYJ -16 -16.6% 13.3% 262 74% 6.2 2.3
3-D.Lock DEN -19 -16.9% 7.6% 196 64% 6.2 3.9
10-M.Trubisky CHI -28 -25.5% 10.1% 184 60% 6.9 3.4
7-D.Haskins WAS -32 -30.9% 9.7% 112 52% 7.3 3.3
8-L.Jackson BAL -33 -25.9% 9.0% 157 58% 7.1 1.6
8-D.Jones NYG -46 -28.4% 8.4% 178 59% 6.7 2.2
4-N.Mullens SF -48 -33.5% 9.8% 162 59% 6.7 3.1
10-J.Herbert LAC -49 -26.0% 7.7% 211 56% 7.2 2.3
9-N.Foles CHI -60 -31.8% 13.2% 184 63% 7.1 1.2
9-J.Burrow CIN -75 -34.7% 10.4% 160 51% 7.6 1.2

Mahomes didn't throw a ton of outs, ranking below average in target rate, but he finished first in both DYAR and DVOA. Cincinnati's Joe Burrow was the opposite, ranking last in both DYAR and DVOA. He can't blame his struggles on any one receiver—no Bengals wideouts qualified for the receivers table.

A pair of part-timers—Philadelphia's Jalen Hurts and San Francisco's Jimmy Garoppolo—ranked one-two in target rate on outs. Among full-time quarterbacks, nobody threw the out more frequently than Cleveland's Baker Mayfield. Miami's Tua Tagovailoa had the lowest target rate on outs, but his teammate Ryan Fitzpatrick was next to last. This might indicate that target rate sometimes tells us more about scheme and coaching than it does about individual players. It's also not the last time today that Fitzpatrick and Tagovailoa will find themselves clustered together at the extreme end of one of these tables.

For example…

Slant

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw the slant a league-high 15.0% of the time; Tagovailoa was second at 14.1%.

Slant Route Leaders, 2020
Player Tm DYAR DVOA Tgt% Yds Catch% aDOT YAC
17-J.Allen BUF 185 65.8% 5.0% 360 86% 7.5 7.3
16-J.Goff LAR 148 69.9% 4.5% 346 79% 7.7 10.8
17-R.Tannehill TEN 147 29.0% 9.9% 515 72% 7.4 7.9
2-M.Ryan ATL 125 17.7% 8.5% 458 71% 7.3 4.8
10-M.Trubisky CHI 123 47.5% 8.8% 274 85% 7.1 4.9
9-J.Burrow CIN 100 15.8% 11.4% 398 77% 7.2 4.1
4-D.Watson HOU 86 16.5% 7.2% 298 68% 7.5 4.3
9-M.Stafford DET 85 26.9% 5.8% 274 82% 7.3 3.9
6-B.Mayfield CLE 83 28.2% 6.1% 230 81% 7.3 2.9
15-P.Mahomes KC 75 19.3% 5.9% 316 71% 7.0 6.0
4-N.Mullens SF 64 15.2% 10.2% 253 73% 6.2 3.8
7-D.Haskins WAS 63 25.8% 8.8% 213 75% 7.5 6.3
3-R.Wilson SEA 59 9.7% 6.1% 248 67% 7.3 3.5
8-K.Cousins MIN 51 8.1% 6.7% 276 67% 6.8 4.9
4-D.Prescott DAL 47 22.8% 8.2% 162 67% 6.9 6.4
9-D.Brees NO 44 10.7% 6.5% 143 68% 5.9 2.5
14-R.Fitzpatrick MIA 40 0.2% 15.0% 310 63% 6.7 5.1
1-K.Murray ARI 39 1.5% 6.9% 250 63% 6.4 3.2
11-A.Smith WAS 34 17.1% 6.3% 153 71% 6.5 7.3
10-J.Garoppolo SF 26 29.5% 6.4% 105 67% 8.9 8.7
14-A.Dalton DAL 22 -4.5% 10.5% 259 50% 6.5 8.5
12-T.Brady TB 17 -5.0% 5.5% 207 67% 6.5 2.7
15-G.Minshew JAX 17 -0.3% 5.7% 112 71% 6.8 2.6
4-D.Carr LV 15 -1.9% 5.6% 181 61% 6.3 4.5
10-J.Herbert LAC 14 -6.1% 5.6% 239 61% 6.3 5.4
1-T.Tagovailoa MIA 12 -7.8% 14.1% 259 69% 6.7 2.9
5-T.Bridgewater CAR 11 -9.8% 9.4% 374 71% 5.8 6.3
14-S.Darnold NYJ -1 -12.7% 3.5% 90 50% 8.3 6.2
7-T.Hill NO -6 -22.5% 6.7% 43 88% 4.8 0.7
1-C.Newton NE -12 -18.7% 7.6% 160 56% 7.4 3.5
2-J.Hurts PHI -16 -87.7% 2.2% 6 33% 6.0 -1.0
12-A.Rodgers GB -18 -19.3% 5.5% 178 64% 6.6 3.1
17-P.Rivers IND -18 -22.0% 4.8% 156 62% 5.5 3.4
8-L.Jackson BAL -25 -24.0% 8.2% 216 67% 7.4 3.8
9-N.Foles CHI -28 -25.3% 8.6% 124 54% 6.9 1.7
11-C.Wentz PHI -37 -25.4% 7.7% 168 52% 7.4 2.7
7-B.Roethlisberger PIT -39 -20.8% 9.4% 327 63% 5.2 3.9
3-D.Lock DEN -41 -32.2% 6.0% 147 46% 8.0 5.8
8-D.Jones NYG -42 -23.3% 11.8% 281 52% 7.0 2.9

How will Fitzpatrick's approach change in Washington? That's hard to say. Alex Smith was below average in slant target rate, but Dwayne Haskins was near the top. Philadelphia's Jalen Hurts had the lowest target rate on slants; Sam Darnold of the Jets had the lowest rate among full-timers. Darnold is now in Carolina, where Teddy Bridgewater made the top 10 in target rate last season.

Buffalo's Josh Allen led the league in DYAR on slants, with L.A.'s Jared Goff in second place; that order was flip-flopped when looking at DVOA. Daniel Jones narrowly edged out Denver's Drew Lock for the worst DYAR ranking on slats. Lock was last among full-timers in DVOA, though Hurts was worse in a smaller sample size.

Flat

We have come to the first route that Rodgers dominated … though, to be fair, that says as much about Green Bay's running backs as it does their passer.

Flat Route Leaders, 2020
Player Tm DYAR DVOA Tgt% Yds Catch% aDOT YAC
12-A.Rodgers GB 118 37.6% 6.5% 185 94% 1.3 4.6
8-K.Cousins MIN 86 33.3% 5.3% 200 92% 2.5 5.7
15-P.Mahomes KC 62 8.7% 7.5% 280 81% 1.1 6.7
5-T.Bridgewater CAR 59 8.7% 8.6% 221 88% 1.1 5.1
4-N.Mullens SF 43 25.9% 5.5% 104 78% 1.4 6.1
17-P.Rivers IND 38 5.4% 6.3% 197 91% 1.1 5.3
6-B.Mayfield CLE 37 13.7% 4.1% 117 74% 1.9 7.0
9-D.Brees NO 37 24.5% 3.9% 73 80% 1.9 3.8
14-S.Darnold NYJ 33 6.4% 8.1% 163 93% 1.6 4.6
8-L.Jackson BAL 28 10.5% 5.2% 125 95% 0.2 6.9
9-J.Burrow CIN 26 2.3% 6.6% 142 85% 1.2 5.1
14-R.Fitzpatrick MIA 26 6.3% 7.3% 88 95% 1.1 3.6
17-R.Tannehill TEN 20 13.2% 2.5% 51 92% 1.0 3.5
1-K.Murray ARI 18 -2.5% 5.2% 123 75% 0.8 4.8
1-C.Newton NE 14 -0.5% 4.8% 93 82% 1.0 5.6
15-G.Minshew JAX 10 -4.8% 6.3% 115 95% 0.1 5.9
16-J.Goff LAR 8 -7.4% 5.3% 121 86% 2.0 3.1
17-J.Allen BUF 7 -5.4% 4.1% 129 87% 1.3 5.1
4-D.Prescott DAL 7 8.1% 3.2% 64 57% 0.7 13.3
14-A.Dalton DAL 5 -7.2% 4.9% 75 75% 1.3 4.8
3-R.Wilson SEA 4 -9.8% 5.0% 102 74% 1.3 4.2
10-J.Garoppolo SF 3 -0.4% 3.6% 16 80% 1.4 2.5
1-T.Tagovailoa MIA 2 -7.5% 10.0% 172 93% 1.7 4.7
9-N.Foles CHI -3 -14.4% 8.6% 101 81% 0.9 4.3
10-M.Trubisky CHI -3 -13.5% 7.1% 131 86% 0.8 6.3
10-J.Herbert LAC -10 -18.3% 6.1% 156 83% 1.3 3.9
11-C.Wentz PHI -13 -21.2% 5.6% 97 75% 1.7 3.6
7-T.Hill NO -15 -32.2% 9.2% 46 82% 1.7 3.6
4-D.Watson HOU -15 -20.1% 3.8% 115 85% 1.1 5.8
7-D.Haskins WAS -21 -29.9% 7.1% 65 71% 0.8 4.5
11-A.Smith WAS -23 -44.1% 5.4% 34 69% 0.3 4.1
8-D.Jones NYG -23 -19.0% 8.9% 193 74% 1.4 5.0
9-M.Stafford DET -25 -23.9% 6.6% 158 71% 1.1 5.3
2-J.Hurts PHI -26 -50.9% 6.5% 20 44% 1.7 2.8
4-D.Carr LV -33 -26.0% 7.0% 173 83% 0.8 5.0
3-D.Lock DEN -46 -34.8% 6.4% 126 75% 1.2 5.0
12-T.Brady TB -49 -28.5% 7.3% 210 78% 1.3 5.0
7-B.Roethlisberger PIT -51 -28.8% 5.9% 178 78% 0.9 5.0
2-M.Ryan ATL -51 -25.2% 8.8% 269 78% 2.4 3.8

Rodgers excelled here in part because he was throwing to Jamaal Williams, the top receiver in flats. It's similar for many of the quarterbacks who ranked highly in DYAR; Nick Mullens had Jerick McKinnon, while Teddy Bridgewater had Mike Davis. Meanwhile, the three quarterbacks who ranked last in DYAR—Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, and Tom Brady—all lacked running backs who could make an impact as receivers. Ryan will certainly be a lot happier so see Davis coming over from division rival Carolina. Rodgers had the best DYAR and DVOA on these throws, while Washington's Alex Smith had the worst among full-timers and Philadelphia's Jalen Hurts was worst overall.

Miami's Tua Tagovaila had the league's highest target rate on flats, and Ryan Fitzpatrick was also in the top 10. However, Miami's old quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, had the lowest target rate on flats in the NFL. That's because he was too busy throwing digs.

Dig

Tannehill led all quarterbacks in DYAR on digs. You'll recall that Julio Jones led all receivers in DYAR on digs, and A.J. Brown was also in the top three. The safeties of the AFC South are in big trouble, is what we're getting at.

Dig Route Leaders, 2020
Player Tm DYAR DVOA Tgt% Yds Catch% aDOT YAC
17-R.Tannehill TEN 126 38.4% 7.2% 354 67% 11.1 5.5
9-M.Stafford DET 125 22.4% 9.6% 475 66% 11.3 2.5
3-R.Wilson SEA 121 53.3% 4.8% 301 73% 11.1 5.3
8-K.Cousins MIN 112 36.5% 6.9% 354 79% 8.1 4.6
4-D.Watson HOU 101 19.8% 7.9% 374 64% 10.8 2.1
9-D.Brees NO 69 19.4% 7.6% 342 66% 10.8 6.9
6-B.Mayfield CLE 68 17.7% 7.2% 261 64% 9.0 3.6
15-G.Minshew JAX 67 41.3% 5.1% 178 88% 7.9 3.8
9-J.Burrow CIN 62 15.4% 7.8% 262 71% 9.0 3.5
17-J.Allen BUF 61 14.9% 5.2% 238 72% 9.8 2.2
10-J.Herbert LAC 60 23.2% 3.7% 219 68% 12.6 3.4
8-D.Jones NYG 58 21.7% 5.5% 255 64% 12.3 4.6
1-K.Murray ARI 57 36.2% 3.2% 164 76% 10.9 4.2
14-R.Fitzpatrick MIA 52 38.6% 5.5% 153 80% 8.8 3.3
12-A.Rodgers GB 52 22.8% 3.7% 191 68% 11.6 3.8
16-J.Goff LAR 50 23.1% 3.8% 214 70% 9.9 5.6
4-D.Prescott DAL 49 25.1% 8.2% 170 76% 8.2 3.8
1-C.Newton NE 48 9.8% 8.7% 336 67% 12.6 2.8
7-T.Hill NO 45 52.4% 7.5% 108 78% 13.4 1.4
5-T.Bridgewater CAR 39 2.9% 7.3% 275 57% 11.9 2.8
15-P.Mahomes KC 36 13.3% 3.7% 199 67% 10.1 2.9
8-L.Jackson BAL 35 9.0% 7.4% 276 67% 10.8 4.3
3-D.Lock DEN 30 1.8% 6.9% 261 52% 11.0 5.6
2-M.Ryan ATL 13 -8.5% 6.5% 312 50% 11.8 2.6
12-T.Brady TB 12 -7.7% 7.0% 301 61% 8.1 3.1
17-P.Rivers IND 12 -7.3% 7.8% 361 55% 10.5 5.2
4-D.Carr LV 11 -5.1% 6.2% 278 58% 11.8 3.6
7-D.Haskins WAS 3 -7.8% 5.5% 86 62% 9.4 5.3
10-J.Garoppolo SF 3 -4.9% 7.9% 93 64% 9.9 4.3
11-A.Smith WAS -2 -15.1% 4.6% 110 73% 10.5 1.3
14-A.Dalton DAL -5 -13.5% 6.8% 138 71% 5.9 1.9
14-S.Darnold NYJ -6 -15.3% 5.5% 162 47% 11.8 8.1
2-J.Hurts PHI -8 -28.9% 4.3% 50 50% 9.0 2.7
10-M.Trubisky CHI -8 -23.2% 3.7% 69 55% 11.0 1.2
4-N.Mullens SF -13 -16.4% 13.2% 290 47% 9.7 4.5
9-N.Foles CHI -22 -33.9% 4.9% 85 47% 12.9 0.6
1-T.Tagovailoa MIA -27 -37.1% 4.8% 81 57% 9.6 2.5
7-B.Roethlisberger PIT -39 -33.8% 4.2% 125 52% 5.7 2.8
11-C.Wentz PHI -49 -38.7% 5.4% 113 43% 11.0 1.4

It was Seattle's Russell Wilson, not Tannehill, who had the top DVOA on digs. Philadelphia's Carson Wentz was last in both DYAR and DVOA, but then, he was last in a lot of categories last season.

San Francisco's Nick Mullens had by far the league's highest target rate on digs at 13.2%; nobody else was even in double digits. Jimmy Garoppolo's target rate on digs was also high, which suggests this is a Kyle Shanahan thing. Kyler Murray had the NFL's lowest target rate on digs, because the dig is a generally productive route, and that sort of thing is frowned on in Arizona. The Cardinals would much rather throw to a receiver behind the line of scrimmage so he can be tackled for a loss. That's how Murray ended up last in DYAR in our next route.

WR/TE Screen

Kyler Murray did a lot of things right last year—he was in the top 10 in DVOA on curls, outs, deep crosses, posts, digs, and drags. But he and the Cardinals were terrible at WR/TE screens despite plenty of practice—only Jared Goff and Ben Roethlisberger threw more. As a result, Murray finished the worst numbers on the worst route in the NFL.

WR/TE Screen Route Leaders, 2020
Player Tm DYAR DVOA Tgt% Yds Catch% aDOT YAC
15-P.Mahomes KC 61 14.1% 5.6% 233 94% -1.7 9.7
4-D.Watson HOU 54 14.9% 6.2% 321 97% -2.5 12.4
10-M.Trubisky CHI 28 15.8% 5.1% 99 93% -2.5 9.6
12-T.Brady TB 19 -6.2% 6.9% 281 95% -1.6 8.8
7-D.Haskins WAS 14 -3.2% 9.2% 181 95% -1.3 10.0
17-J.Allen BUF 11 -7.5% 6.8% 271 84% -2.2 10.8
15-G.Minshew JAX 9 -2.8% 4.7% 101 87% -1.3 9.0
2-J.Hurts PHI 8 -3.0% 8.6% 102 83% -2.0 12.1
10-J.Herbert LAC 2 -10.3% 6.5% 248 92% -2.7 9.6
4-N.Mullens SF 0 -12.6% 7.7% 194 92% -3.1 11.4
9-D.Brees NO -4 -16.1% 3.6% 95 93% -3.2 10.6
12-A.Rodgers GB -4 -13.2% 9.0% 287 91% -1.2 8.0
10-J.Garoppolo SF -12 -34.3% 4.3% 42 83% -4.5 13.4
14-R.Fitzpatrick MIA -14 -79.0% 1.1% 7 100% -0.7 3.0
6-B.Mayfield CLE -15 -26.8% 3.1% 103 93% -3.0 11.2
8-L.Jackson BAL -17 -36.0% 3.3% 70 67% -0.5 8.6
11-A.Smith WAS -19 -22.7% 10.4% 148 96% -2.3 8.7
8-K.Cousins MIN -20 -35.0% 2.4% 78 83% -1.7 9.4
9-M.Stafford DET -23 -20.7% 6.2% 173 94% -2.6 8.3
1-T.Tagovailoa MIA -25 -69.6% 2.1% 19 83% -1.3 5.0
7-T.Hill NO -26 -55.5% 7.5% 36 100% -2.7 6.7
14-A.Dalton DAL -27 -25.7% 8.3% 155 100% -2.3 8.0
3-R.Wilson SEA -29 -25.9% 5.2% 177 100% -1.5 7.9
4-D.Carr LV -31 -22.3% 7.0% 225 97% -1.8 8.4
8-D.Jones NYG -34 -45.5% 3.9% 79 100% -2.1 6.8
9-J.Burrow CIN -36 -37.9% 5.1% 95 100% -1.3 6.0
16-J.Goff LAR -38 -21.7% 10.0% 332 85% -2.0 9.8
14-S.Darnold NYJ -39 -29.7% 9.2% 224 97% -1.8 9.1
17-R.Tannehill TEN -43 -53.1% 3.2% 100 80% -0.9 8.8
2-M.Ryan ATL -43 -37.3% 3.9% 116 92% -1.3 6.6
17-P.Rivers IND -44 -32.2% 6.1% 230 88% -2.1 10.1
4-D.Prescott DAL -52 -70.2% 5.5% 47 92% -1.8 6.4
1-C.Newton NE -54 -57.2% 5.1% 63 94% -2.7 6.6
3-D.Lock DEN -68 -98.5% 3.0% 63 85% -3.7 9.4
11-C.Wentz PHI -73 -47.5% 6.5% 91 86% -2.8 6.4
7-B.Roethlisberger PIT -76 -30.9% 8.3% 244 90% -1.4 6.7
5-T.Bridgewater CAR -77 -55.5% 5.0% 107 91% -2.5 7.2
9-N.Foles CHI -102 -101.7% 5.3% 31 94% -2.3 4.3
1-K.Murray ARI -117 -47.6% 8.9% 202 98% -2.0 6.3

Patrick Mahomes finished first, which is no surprise after Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce finished one-two as receivers.

You would think that success on screens would tell us less about a quarterback and more about his successes, and that two quarterbacks on the same team should have similar results, but that's not what happened with the Bears. The funniest thing you will read in this entire article is that Chicago's Mitchell Trubisky finished first in the league on WR/TE screen DVOA, but Chicago's Nick Foles finished last in that same statistic. Bears receivers averaged twice as many yards after the catch on these plays for Trubisky as they did for Foles. That alone may have been the difference between Trubisky finishing 24th in DVOA and Foles finishing 29th.

Other pairs of teammates were not so radically different. Alex Smith had the highest WR/TE screen target rate in the league, and Dwayne Haskins was also in the top five. As for the lowest rate in the league, we turn once more to Miami, where Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tua Tagovailoa again finished one-two. The Dolphins only threw nine WR/TE screen passes all season, fewest in the league; the league average was more than triple that at 32.6. In other news, Brian Flores is quickly becoming one of our favorite coaches.

Broken Play

There were way more of these in 2020 than there had been in 2019. And no player benefitted from the boom in throws on the run more than Houston's Deshaun Watson.

Broken Play Route Leaders, 2020
Player Tm DYAR DVOA Tgt% Yds Catch% aDOT YAC
4-D.Watson HOU 146 38.0% 8.5% 442 64% 12.4 4.6
3-R.Wilson SEA 125 15.7% 11.3% 579 60% 13.5 3.9
12-T.Brady TB 82 64.3% 2.4% 162 67% 12.9 2.5
17-J.Allen BUF 75 4.4% 11.2% 443 49% 11.9 1.9
4-N.Mullens SF 62 40.3% 5.2% 189 71% 9.2 3.1
8-L.Jackson BAL 60 9.0% 11.7% 411 63% 11.1 5.6
2-M.Ryan ATL 57 11.5% 5.1% 290 61% 10.9 5.5
10-J.Herbert LAC 56 14.8% 5.1% 219 60% 15.2 3.7
12-A.Rodgers GB 52 6.6% 7.6% 263 54% 13.0 2.1
4-D.Carr LV 37 10.1% 4.6% 242 52% 13.9 6.4
1-C.Newton NE 30 11.1% 5.1% 175 56% 11.8 3.3
11-C.Wentz PHI 28 4.4% 7.2% 245 52% 12.9 2.6
10-M.Trubisky CHI 24 11.6% 4.1% 92 58% 8.8 3.9
9-M.Stafford DET 11 -0.4% 3.1% 169 38% 15.9 4.0
15-P.Mahomes KC 7 -9.3% 9.8% 398 45% 12.6 3.4
9-D.Brees NO 3 -3.0% 2.1% 58 50% 7.9 6.3
8-K.Cousins MIN 3 -10.8% 3.9% 126 42% 11.8 2.6
5-T.Bridgewater CAR 2 -10.4% 2.1% 77 70% 9.5 4.0
7-T.Hill NO 2 6.2% 0.8% 9 100% -8.0 17.0
16-J.Goff LAR -1 -11.4% 1.9% 59 50% 10.8 1.8
1-K.Murray ARI -1 -12.7% 6.3% 240 47% 12.5 2.3
8-D.Jones NYG -2 -15.2% 4.3% 109 68% 5.6 3.2
17-P.Rivers IND -8 -23.8% 1.9% 58 60% 9.1 2.3
7-D.Haskins WAS -8 -27.3% 3.8% 71 33% 12.6 13.0
10-J.Garoppolo SF -10 -36.4% 4.3% 35 20% 8.8 8.0
4-D.Prescott DAL -11 -38.0% 3.2% 36 29% 21.3 4.0
9-N.Foles CHI -14 -34.4% 2.6% 66 75% 11.8 1.2
14-S.Darnold NYJ -17 -21.8% 7.2% 153 36% 12.2 4.7
15-G.Minshew JAX -19 -27.7% 6.3% 133 55% 9.1 6.6
14-R.Fitzpatrick MIA -19 -64.8% 1.8% 15 60% 4.6 4.3
1-T.Tagovailoa MIA -20 -35.2% 4.5% 70 38% 11.2 4.8
17-R.Tannehill TEN -25 -38.0% 2.7% 40 38% 8.9 2.4
6-B.Mayfield CLE -27 -21.3% 8.3% 199 55% 10.3 2.4
11-A.Smith WAS -32 -59.9% 4.2% 30 50% 2.0 3.2
9-J.Burrow CIN -33 -32.9% 6.1% 145 46% 11.2 3.3
2-J.Hurts PHI -43 -51.7% 9.4% 76 23% 14.4 4.7
14-A.Dalton DAL -52 -88.1% 3.7% 48 50% 10.2 1.2
7-B.Roethlisberger PIT -62 -46.9% 4.3% 126 50% 8.2 3.1
3-D.Lock DEN -73 -54.3% 5.7% 73 36% 10.5 3.0

At this point, the entire Houston franchise is basically an infinite series of broken plays both on and off the field, so maybe it's fitting that Watson was at his best when things were at their worst. It was a different story in Denver, where Drew Lock specialized in making the worst of terrible circumstances.

In 2019, Jameis Winston led all quarterbacks in broken play DYAR, and his receivers took home gold, silver, and bronze in the same department. We wrote at the time that Tampa Bay was unlikely to have similar success on broken plays with Tom Brady taking over for Winston. Well, the joke's on us—Brady certainly didn't have as many broken plays as Winston had the year before, but he still shined, leading the league in DVOA. Andy Dalton had the worst DVOA on broken plays, which is less surprising but still kind of funny (unless you are a Cowboys or Bears fan).

As you might expect, Baltimore's Lamar Jackson had the highest broken play target rate among full-timers last year, while Ryan Fitzpatrick had the lowest, but it's a part-timer who had the most stunning result. New Orleans' Taysom Hill started four games at quarterback and saw sporadic action there throughout the year, yet he only threw one broken play target all season. Just one! (It was a doozy of a play too—under a heavy rush, Hill virtually sidearmed a pass to Tre'Quan Smith, who should have been brought down for a big loss but broke a bunch of tackles and zipped ahead to make something out of nothing.) And it's not as if he was never under pressure—he had 17 scrambles and was sacked 14 times, beating more of both than Drew Brees had in a dozen starts for the same team. It seems like whenever Hill was chased out of the pocket, he gave up on throwing the ball entirely and decided to run for whatever he could get—and since he gained 159 yards on scrambles and only lost 87 yards on sacks, maybe that wasn't the worst idea.

Drag

This is another route where Rodgers finished atop the tables, and by a very wide margin. Russell Wilson was second in DYAR, but he was closer to 10th-place Daniel Jones than he was to Rodgers. Tom Brady was second in DVOA, but he was closer to sixth-place Ryan Tannehill than he was to Rodgers.

Drag Route Leaders, 2020
Player Tm DYAR DVOA Tgt% Yds Catch% aDOT YAC
12-A.Rodgers GB 124 38.4% 6.1% 323 87% 3.7 8.3
3-R.Wilson SEA 78 16.4% 7.0% 265 87% 3.7 4.5
17-P.Rivers IND 70 8.6% 8.3% 405 75% 3.7 8.6
12-T.Brady TB 55 29.2% 2.9% 139 83% 4.8 4.3
4-D.Watson HOU 52 23.8% 3.2% 134 82% 4.6 5.1
1-K.Murray ARI 51 27.6% 3.0% 199 88% 4.2 10.2
17-R.Tannehill TEN 48 20.4% 4.2% 115 80% 4.1 3.3
17-J.Allen BUF 45 13.8% 4.1% 183 78% 4.2 6.2
15-P.Mahomes KC 44 18.9% 2.8% 117 81% 3.5 5.5
8-D.Jones NYG 34 10.3% 5.5% 190 79% 4.2 5.9
7-D.Haskins WAS 23 2.1% 9.2% 194 77% 2.9 8.8
5-T.Bridgewater CAR 22 -1.8% 6.1% 237 79% 2.9 7.7
4-D.Carr LV 17 1.0% 4.2% 157 71% 3.9 6.7
8-K.Cousins MIN 16 -0.1% 4.3% 122 67% 4.6 4.9
4-D.Prescott DAL 14 8.2% 5.0% 91 73% 3.1 7.9
2-J.Hurts PHI 12 20.7% 3.6% 57 60% 4.4 15.0
10-M.Trubisky CHI 4 -1.7% 2.4% 58 86% 2.6 7.0
7-T.Hill NO 0 -7.4% 4.2% 47 60% 4.2 11.7
11-A.Smith WAS -1 -12.8% 7.9% 110 68% 3.1 5.2
1-C.Newton NE -1 -13.2% 5.9% 143 71% 3.4 6.4
10-J.Garoppolo SF -2 -18.8% 1.4% 14 50% 1.0 12.0
8-L.Jackson BAL -2 -11.4% 4.9% 112 67% 4.9 4.3
11-C.Wentz PHI -3 -14.4% 1.6% 39 100% 3.6 2.0
9-D.Brees NO -12 -20.7% 5.7% 117 77% 3.7 3.6
14-A.Dalton DAL -13 -21.5% 4.6% 86 87% 2.9 3.4
4-N.Mullens SF -15 -26.1% 3.7% 75 67% 3.3 6.1
9-J.Burrow CIN -19 -36.0% 2.3% 44 67% 4.6 3.0
14-S.Darnold NYJ -23 -37.7% 3.5% 61 42% 2.2 8.0
14-R.Fitzpatrick MIA -25 -35.4% 4.4% 51 67% 3.7 2.8
6-B.Mayfield CLE -29 -38.0% 3.3% 94 67% 4.3 5.9
2-M.Ryan ATL -31 -24.9% 4.6% 168 77% 3.1 4.7
15-G.Minshew JAX -33 -27.6% 7.6% 121 65% 3.3 5.2
9-N.Foles CHI -34 -53.7% 3.6% 53 82% 2.7 2.8
1-T.Tagovailoa MIA -36 -53.8% 3.8% 39 55% 2.5 3.5
16-J.Goff LAR -38 -47.8% 2.8% 78 67% 2.7 4.2
9-M.Stafford DET -42 -39.9% 3.7% 91 63% 2.8 4.5
7-B.Roethlisberger PIT -45 -21.7% 9.3% 331 69% 2.1 6.2
3-D.Lock DEN -51 -46.5% 4.6% 112 65% 3.2 5.3
10-J.Herbert LAC -68 -42.5% 5.1% 124 63% 3.4 3.5

While veteran quarterbacks had most of the best numbers in this table, some surprising youngsters struggled. Justin Herbert of the Chargers set a rookie record with 31 touchdown passes, but he was dead last in DYAR on drag targets. Tua Tagovailoa of the Dolphins was an average passer overall, but he was last in DVOA on drags.

Ben Roethlisberger had the league's highest drag target rate … which is unfortunate, because he was below-average in DVOA on the route, and third-worst in DYAR. Carson Wentz had the lowest drag rate among full-timers, though Jimmy Garoppolo's was even lower in fewer passes.

Deep Cross

The top player in DYAR here also had a large gap on the field, but the leader in efficiency … well, that's complicated.

Deep Cross Route Leaders, 2020
Player Tm DYAR DVOA Tgt% Yds Catch% aDOT YAC
4-D.Watson HOU 210 76.1% 5.9% 530 71% 16.8 5.9
10-J.Herbert LAC 157 90.9% 3.4% 342 70% 18.6 3.6
8-K.Cousins MIN 156 57.5% 5.9% 467 69% 16.2 7.4
12-A.Rodgers GB 150 104.8% 3.5% 321 76% 17.5 7.5
8-L.Jackson BAL 149 116.8% 4.4% 275 87% 18.6 3.3
12-T.Brady TB 135 52.7% 4.7% 440 66% 17.9 5.0
17-J.Allen BUF 111 29.3% 5.9% 368 61% 16.0 2.3
15-P.Mahomes KC 91 27.1% 5.4% 376 53% 16.9 6.6
6-B.Mayfield CLE 86 63.6% 3.3% 209 80% 14.5 1.8
3-R.Wilson SEA 84 38.7% 3.9% 241 65% 14.2 3.4
1-K.Murray ARI 84 69.7% 3.0% 279 53% 19.8 10.8
14-S.Darnold NYJ 65 19.3% 7.5% 279 52% 15.2 4.9
3-D.Lock DEN 61 13.5% 7.8% 351 58% 14.7 3.8
7-B.Roethlisberger PIT 58 42.6% 2.4% 140 60% 17.3 0.9
4-D.Carr LV 57 20.7% 4.6% 274 57% 17.0 5.4
17-R.Tannehill TEN 53 18.2% 4.6% 241 59% 12.7 5.2
2-M.Ryan ATL 51 34.7% 2.3% 194 64% 15.9 4.3
4-D.Prescott DAL 38 65.1% 2.7% 89 83% 18.5 3.0
15-G.Minshew JAX 35 20.3% 4.1% 153 54% 16.8 3.6
4-N.Mullens SF 34 37.4% 2.8% 98 67% 13.6 2.7
9-J.Burrow CIN 34 21.1% 3.5% 180 79% 14.9 1.0
9-M.Stafford DET 33 5.7% 4.6% 217 43% 13.7 8.2
9-D.Brees NO 33 20.5% 3.6% 159 50% 15.1 5.4
14-A.Dalton DAL 32 187.2% 0.6% 64 100% 22.0 10.0
11-A.Smith WAS 28 66.7% 2.1% 81 40% 18.4 23.5
1-C.Newton NE 26 7.0% 5.1% 217 61% 14.1 3.5
16-J.Goff LAR 25 4.6% 3.8% 171 50% 14.3 5.0
5-T.Bridgewater CAR 22 5.1% 3.1% 167 47% 20.0 3.9
17-P.Rivers IND 16 -0.8% 3.3% 175 47% 15.7 4.3
7-T.Hill NO 14 8.7% 7.5% 75 44% 15.2 2.3
8-D.Jones NYG 12 15.0% 1.6% 59 57% 17.1 0.5
10-M.Trubisky CHI 5 -6.7% 3.7% 125 55% 19.7 5.3
14-R.Fitzpatrick MIA 4 -2.4% 1.8% 53 60% 12.0 2.0
9-N.Foles CHI 2 -2.1% 0.7% 22 50% 17.5 0.0
11-C.Wentz PHI 1 -9.9% 2.8% 97 58% 12.7 3.1
10-J.Garoppolo SF -2 -21.2% 2.1% 25 33% 17.0 6.0
1-T.Tagovailoa MIA -7 -34.6% 1.0% 17 33% 15.0 0.0
2-J.Hurts PHI -7 -48.3% 2.2% 12 33% 8.7 2.0
7-D.Haskins WAS -27 -58.5% 3.4% 38 25% 17.1 2.5

Deshaun Watson was the top passer in DYAR on crossing routes. Justin Herbert was a distant second place, but hey, he did better here than he did on drags. Dwayne Haskins, meanwhile was last in DYAR, and one of two full-timers to finish below replacement level on the route. He was also last in DVOA.

The most efficient passer on deep crosses was something of a surprise: Dallas' Andy Dalton. If you're struggling to recall any big plays Dalton made on deep crosses, let's give you a refresher course. Here is a comprehensive list of every deep cross Dalton threw in 2020:

A 19-yard completion to Michael Gallup against Minnesota in Week 10.

A 45-yard completion to CeeDee Lamb against San Francisco in Week 15.

That's it. Dalton threw more than 300 passes in 11 games and only threw two deep crosses all season long. That was tied with Nick Foles for the lowest total among qualifiers. For comparison's sake, Drew Lock led the league with 34 deep crosses. Lock and Dalton had the highest and lowest deep cross target rates in the NFL.

Anyway, if you throw out Dalton's tiny-sample-size performance, Baltimore's Lamar Jackson had the highest DVOA on deep crosses.

Go/Fly

Welcome back the Aaron Rodgers Show … and the point in the essay where sample-size issues are largely unavoidable.

Go/Fly Route Leaders, 2020
Player Tm DYAR DVOA Tgt% Yds Catch% aDOT YAC
12-A.Rodgers GB 179 115.7% 3.7% 471 58% 31.5 13.2
4-D.Watson HOU 157 134.3% 2.6% 363 62% 27.9 12.5
4-D.Carr LV 147 142.5% 2.4% 348 64% 36.8 7.9
10-J.Herbert LAC 118 91.4% 2.6% 373 43% 35.8 20.0
7-B.Roethlisberger PIT 91 27.0% 4.8% 403 32% 30.2 8.5
12-T.Brady TB 82 27.9% 4.6% 399 26% 35.5 2.3
11-C.Wentz PHI 77 88.2% 2.6% 239 50% 34.0 10.0
14-R.Fitzpatrick MIA 70 139.0% 2.6% 154 67% 30.1 2.3
4-D.Prescott DAL 64 203.6% 1.8% 133 75% 34.5 6.3
2-J.Hurts PHI 61 75.1% 6.5% 163 50% 26.8 2.0
3-D.Lock DEN 60 33.9% 4.1% 271 35% 29.4 9.8
17-J.Allen BUF 45 23.1% 3.1% 212 27% 36.8 4.5
4-N.Mullens SF 39 112.5% 1.2% 93 50% 33.8 7.0
2-M.Ryan ATL 34 25.4% 2.0% 191 33% 33.4 5.3
14-A.Dalton DAL 34 35.7% 2.8% 146 29% 30.0 9.5
15-P.Mahomes KC 29 16.9% 2.4% 175 36% 30.4 5.6
1-K.Murray ARI 27 7.6% 3.3% 216 21% 35.8 2.0
1-T.Tagovailoa MIA 25 21.0% 3.1% 101 38% 24.9 1.7
5-T.Bridgewater CAR 23 8.9% 2.9% 177 31% 33.6 4.3
3-R.Wilson SEA 20 2.3% 3.1% 198 29% 35.9 3.6
8-L.Jackson BAL 20 17.4% 2.5% 117 25% 31.9 11.5
9-N.Foles CHI 18 17.0% 2.6% 107 29% 35.9 0.0
9-M.Stafford DET 16 1.9% 2.9% 153 27% 38.3 1.3
9-D.Brees NO 12 19.6% 1.6% 97 33% 29.8 12.0
6-B.Mayfield CLE 6 -4.6% 2.4% 89 30% 29.0 0.3
1-C.Newton NE 0 -2.2% 0.8% 50 33% 43.0 0.0
7-T.Hill NO 0   0.0% 0      
17-R.Tannehill TEN -2 -13.9% 1.3% 45 0% 25.0  
15-G.Minshew JAX -8 -21.7% 3.5% 109 20% 36.3 1.5
16-J.Goff LAR -10 -27.2% 1.9% 71 20% 31.6 0.0
11-A.Smith WAS -11 -48.3% 1.7% 21 0% 33.3  
17-P.Rivers IND -16 -91.9% 0.6% 0 0% 32.3  
10-J.Garoppolo SF -17 -125.9% 1.4% 0 0% 43.5  
14-S.Darnold NYJ -22 -43.9% 2.6% 52 0% 32.1  
7-D.Haskins WAS -25 -92.9% 1.7% 0 0% 23.3  
10-M.Trubisky CHI -25 -60.2% 2.4% 23 14% 31.6 0.0
9-J.Burrow CIN -28 -57.2% 2.0% 54 13% 28.5 30.0
8-K.Cousins MIN -41 -51.1% 3.0% 93 14% 31.7 4.0
8-D.Jones NYG -48 -117.2% 1.4% 0 0% 41.8  

We can probably put at least a little faith in the DYAR numbers here, at least at the extremes. Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, Derek Carr, and Justin Herbert, as a group, were reliably better than Daniel Jones, Kirk Cousins, Joe Burrow, and Mitchell Trubisky. But the DVOA leaders and trailers are based mostly on random noise. Taysom Hill didn't throw a single go/fly route all season; none of Sam Darnold, Jimmy Garoppolo, Dwayne Haskins, Daniel Jones, Philip Rivers, Alex Smith, or Ryan Tannehill completed any. Dak Prescott had the best DVOA on go/flies, but he only threw four of them. Garoppolo had the worst DVOA, but he only threw two of them; Jones was next-worst, but he only threw six.

Mind you, a few quarterbacks threw the go/fly with some regularity. Jalen Hurts had the highest rate in this table, though he only started four games. Ben Roethlisberger led all passers with 30 go/fly passes. He missed one start, so that works out to exactly two per game.

Corner

Philip Rivers' last NFL season didn't end the way he wanted to, but if it's any consolation, he was the league's best passer on corner routes.

Corner Route Leaders, 2020
Player Tm DYAR DVOA Tgt% Yds Catch% aDOT YAC
17-P.Rivers IND 129 45.2% 5.7% 414 57% 19.0 3.4
8-K.Cousins MIN 117 117.2% 2.4% 214 82% 16.4 5.3
2-M.Ryan ATL 105 48.0% 3.8% 291 61% 20.0 1.5
15-P.Mahomes KC 88 37.8% 4.5% 286 50% 23.2 4.0
10-J.Herbert LAC 79 40.8% 3.4% 231 56% 18.3 3.0
9-M.Stafford DET 74 54.6% 2.5% 223 67% 16.0 4.9
14-R.Fitzpatrick MIA 65 39.1% 6.6% 255 59% 15.8 6.4
17-J.Allen BUF 64 212.1% 0.7% 126 100% 26.5 5.0
4-D.Watson HOU 47 16.0% 3.8% 228 44% 19.8 4.5
6-B.Mayfield CLE 46 29.1% 2.8% 143 58% 17.0 0.7
7-B.Roethlisberger PIT 45 34.6% 2.2% 149 50% 20.1 0.8
12-A.Rodgers GB 41 42.3% 2.2% 126 50% 17.3 3.4
11-C.Wentz PHI 40 75.9% 1.4% 107 50% 26.7 1.5
17-R.Tannehill TEN 34 10.6% 3.8% 187 56% 16.4 4.5
11-A.Smith WAS 27 71.6% 2.1% 61 60% 20.0 4.0
9-N.Foles CHI 20 16.6% 2.6% 88 50% 15.6 2.5
4-D.Carr LV 18 4.0% 2.6% 99 42% 18.8 2.8
8-L.Jackson BAL 16 8.1% 3.3% 119 42% 22.4 1.8
4-N.Mullens SF 16 19.4% 2.5% 66 43% 19.0 0.0
1-K.Murray ARI 14 14.7% 1.5% 48 38% 18.1 0.0
12-T.Brady TB 13 3.0% 2.0% 94 42% 22.3 1.4
9-D.Brees NO 12 17.5% 2.1% 95 43% 16.4 9.7
1-C.Newton NE 10 16.6% 1.4% 59 40% 19.6 6.5
14-A.Dalton DAL 8 -0.1% 2.5% 66 38% 20.8 4.7
4-D.Prescott DAL 7 35.2% 0.9% 5 50% 5.0 0.0
2-J.Hurts PHI 7 27.9% 1.4% 5 50% 11.0 0.0
14-S.Darnold NYJ 4 -6.4% 2.3% 77 38% 19.9 0.3
10-J.Garoppolo SF 0   0.0% 0      
7-D.Haskins WAS -4 -15.9% 2.5% 36 33% 21.5 4.5
8-D.Jones NYG -6 -22.6% 1.1% 67 60% 16.0 2.3
7-T.Hill NO -6 -95.0% 0.8% 0 0% 36.0  
16-J.Goff LAR -10 -15.8% 3.4% 171 33% 23.1 5.5
9-J.Burrow CIN -16 -45.9% 1.5% 20 33% 11.8 0.0
1-T.Tagovailoa MIA -20 -45.4% 2.4% 42 29% 14.4 1.5
5-T.Bridgewater CAR -22 -39.6% 2.1% 49 30% 20.7 1.0
10-M.Trubisky CHI -32 -63.4% 2.4% 31 17% 14.4 3.0
3-R.Wilson SEA -38 -74.1% 1.5% 24 13% 20.1 2.0
3-D.Lock DEN -41 -46.7% 3.2% 67 17% 18.7 0.5
15-G.Minshew JAX -44 -65.4% 3.5% 28 10% 20.2 0.0

Gardner Minshew finished last on the corner route, which we suggested might be the case after DJ Chark and Keelan Cole each made the bottom three among individual receivers.

We can ignore most of the DVOA numbers by this point. Josh Allen had the best DVOA, but he only threw four corners all season. Taysom Hill had the worst, but he only threw one. Jimmy Garoppolo didn't throw any at all. Ryan Fitzpatrick had the highest corner target rate, while Rivers threw the most corners in the league with 31, five more than anyone else.

Post

Here is an area where we can be confident that Matthew Stafford will be an upgrade for the Rams. Jared Goff's efficiency numbers on posts were decent, but he rarely ever threw them. Stafford was not as efficient, but he was better than most. More importantly, he threw a ton of them, leading all passers with 35. Nobody else had more than 21. Combine decent efficiency with tons of volume and the you have the best post passer in the NFL.

Post Route Leaders, 2020
Player Tm DYAR DVOA Tgt% Yds Catch% aDOT YAC
9-M.Stafford DET 149 45.3% 6.7% 456 61% 22.0 3.0
4-D.Prescott DAL 94 181.0% 2.7% 188 100% 24.2 7.2
8-L.Jackson BAL 80 75.4% 3.3% 169 58% 27.3 2.4
3-D.Lock DEN 80 64.2% 3.0% 240 46% 28.0 16.7
4-D.Carr LV 74 49.6% 2.8% 244 50% 27.7 8.8
16-J.Goff LAR 72 87.7% 1.9% 154 80% 15.7 4.6
5-T.Bridgewater CAR 72 135.1% 1.5% 197 57% 33.0 9.5
9-N.Foles CHI 68 76.0% 3.6% 174 55% 28.5 3.7
1-K.Murray ARI 57 117.0% 1.3% 123 57% 24.0 3.5
12-T.Brady TB 54 32.6% 2.4% 219 40% 28.3 9.5
4-N.Mullens SF 53 50.9% 3.4% 155 64% 17.8 4.4
8-K.Cousins MIN 52 53.2% 2.2% 176 64% 19.0 8.6
14-A.Dalton DAL 50 68.2% 2.8% 162 63% 21.9 5.0
7-B.Roethlisberger PIT 39 22.3% 2.4% 168 43% 22.2 4.2
9-D.Brees NO 38 56.6% 1.8% 87 71% 15.4 2.2
17-P.Rivers IND 32 8.4% 3.9% 229 38% 26.0 3.8
12-A.Rodgers GB 32 33.8% 1.8% 159 44% 34.0 9.8
1-T.Tagovailoa MIA 29 40.5% 3.1% 102 56% 23.3 0.8
7-T.Hill NO 26 130.5% 1.7% 62 100% 31.0 0.0
3-R.Wilson SEA 25 34.8% 1.5% 106 38% 27.3 1.7
10-M.Trubisky CHI 23 37.6% 2.0% 71 67% 16.7 1.8
17-R.Tannehill TEN 22 26.2% 1.5% 126 57% 29.1 2.5
14-R.Fitzpatrick MIA 22 12.7% 4.4% 124 50% 14.4 4.3
7-D.Haskins WAS 11 14.1% 2.1% 28 40% 16.0 0.0
2-J.Hurts PHI 10 37.6% 2.9% 32 25% 26.5 0.0
8-D.Jones NYG 7 -3.2% 2.1% 85 33% 20.3 2.7
11-A.Smith WAS 6 -1.0% 2.5% 74 33% 32.0 6.0
17-J.Allen BUF 6 -5.6% 2.0% 95 30% 29.5 3.7
10-J.Garoppolo SF 2 -7.8% 5.0% 49 43% 17.0 4.0
1-C.Newton NE 1 -12.0% 2.8% 92 30% 26.1 3.0
14-S.Darnold NYJ -7 -19.9% 1.7% 39 33% 21.8 0.5
9-J.Burrow CIN -9 -18.5% 4.5% 106 39% 18.8 1.9
15-G.Minshew JAX -18 -67.3% 1.3% 14 25% 16.3 0.0
10-J.Herbert LAC -19 -30.7% 2.2% 69 31% 23.5 2.0
2-M.Ryan ATL -24 -36.5% 2.1% 82 25% 21.3 5.3
4-D.Watson HOU -25 -30.8% 3.0% 106 31% 22.4 3.0
6-B.Mayfield CLE -37 -48.0% 3.1% 66 23% 16.5 1.0
15-P.Mahomes KC -42 -79.8% 1.6% 15 11% 22.7 0.0
11-C.Wentz PHI -46 -61.7% 3.3% 37 14% 34.0 0.0

Carson Wentz had the worst DYAR on posts, but look who's one slot above him. If there's one thing Patrick Mahomes struggles with, it's apparently the post route, where he finished next to last in DYAR and dead last in DVOA. That's on nine throws, which is tiny, but Mahomes threw more of those balls to the other team (two) than to his own receivers (one).

Fade

Tom Brady was drafted in 2000. Joe Burrow was drafted 20 years later. They're on opposite ends of the age spectrum, and on opposite ends of the fade leaderboard too, with Brady in first and Burrow in last.

Fade Route Leaders, 2020
Player Tm DYAR DVOA Tgt% Yds Catch% aDOT YAC
12-T.Brady TB 150 119.4% 2.6% 286 69% 21.0 5.6
8-D.Jones NYG 94 47.0% 4.8% 342 47% 21.8 7.6
8-K.Cousins MIN 82 48.5% 3.2% 205 53% 19.7 3.5
3-R.Wilson SEA 75 44.3% 3.3% 178 44% 22.3 0.4
12-A.Rodgers GB 75 38.5% 3.9% 233 41% 23.1 5.3
4-N.Mullens SF 47 80.1% 2.2% 127 71% 17.0 6.2
4-D.Carr LV 46 45.2% 2.2% 150 55% 21.5 2.2
5-T.Bridgewater CAR 44 46.8% 1.9% 138 50% 21.3 0.0
9-N.Foles CHI 31 44.1% 2.3% 102 40% 23.3 7.0
9-D.Brees NO 28 117.6% 0.8% 41 67% 21.0 3.0
1-K.Murray ARI 26 19.4% 1.9% 102 44% 20.4 3.0
17-J.Allen BUF 25 55.5% 0.9% 63 67% 17.6 7.0
10-J.Garoppolo SF 22 226.1% 0.7% 35 100% 28.0 7.0
14-S.Darnold NYJ 22 20.4% 2.6% 99 38% 22.1 3.3
7-D.Haskins WAS 21 59.6% 1.7% 69 50% 26.5 1.0
11-C.Wentz PHI 20 9.1% 3.3% 117 38% 18.0 4.2
15-P.Mahomes KC 17 33.8% 0.7% 33 33% 24.0 1.0
7-T.Hill NO 13 147.6% 0.8% 31 100% 31.0 0.0
14-R.Fitzpatrick MIA 13 6.7% 3.3% 92 29% 19.4 2.5
7-B.Roethlisberger PIT 12 -3.3% 3.0% 174 27% 21.7 3.8
4-D.Watson HOU 11 -5.9% 3.4% 183 33% 21.5 5.5
6-B.Mayfield CLE 0 -11.9% 3.3% 118 31% 17.3 3.0
17-R.Tannehill TEN -7 -24.9% 1.5% 57 17% 20.1 10.0
1-C.Newton NE -8 -113.5% 0.3% 0 0% -5.0  
11-A.Smith WAS -11 -43.6% 1.7% 29 25% 18.3 3.0
1-T.Tagovailoa MIA -14 -25.6% 4.1% 48 22% 15.1 0.0
16-J.Goff LAR -15 -47.4% 0.8% 1 25% 18.0 0.0
2-J.Hurts PHI -17 -120.2% 1.4% 0 0% 19.5  
17-P.Rivers IND -18 -48.1% 1.1% 29 20% 21.3 3.0
8-L.Jackson BAL -21 -111.8% 0.8% 0 0% 18.0  
9-M.Stafford DET -22 -45.8% 1.7% 45 22% 19.0 1.5
3-D.Lock DEN -23 -37.1% 3.0% 61 23% 21.1 0.7
10-M.Trubisky CHI -24 -40.3% 3.7% 73 27% 19.0 2.0
4-D.Prescott DAL -30 -95.9% 1.8% 0 0% 12.0  
14-A.Dalton DAL -34 -58.7% 2.5% 11 25% 10.0 0.0
10-J.Herbert LAC -50 -45.4% 3.2% 88 17% 17.5 0.0
2-M.Ryan ATL -51 -49.0% 2.9% 95 19% 18.8 1.3
15-G.Minshew JAX -54 -56.0% 5.1% 70 27% 13.3 1.3
9-J.Burrow CIN -55 -56.9% 4.0% 104 13% 21.8 19.5

The DVOA numbers here are mostly meaningless. Jimmy Garoppolo and Taysom Hill ranked one-two in DVOA, but they threw just one fade each. Jalen Hurts was last, but he only threw two. Gardner Minshew had the league's highest fade target rate, because the Jaguars' offense last year often boiled down to "chuck it to the sideline and hope our guy wins a jump ball," and even he only threw 16 of them. For the record, Daniel Jones led all quarterbacks with 21 fade passes. Carson Wentz threw 14 of them, with modest results. Those aren't the passes that hurt him the most last year.

These are:

The Throws that Hurt Carson Wentz

Wentz was perhaps the worst quarterback in football in 2020, finishing last in passing DYAR and third-worst in DVOA—and the two passers who were worse, the Washington duo of Dwayne Haskins and Alex Smith, won't be starting this year. That doesn't mean he was completely hopeless, however.

Carson Wentz's Performance on NFL's Most Common Routes, 2020
Route DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Tgt% Rk
Go/Fly 77 7 88.2% 8 2.6% 17
Corner 40 13 75.9% 3 1.4% 33
Broken Play 28 12 4.4% 12 7.2% 8
Fade 20 15 9.1% 16 3.3% 10
Out 16 22 -7.8% 24 14.3% 2
Deep Cross 1 34 -9.9% 34 2.8% 26
Curl -2 33 -12.5% 34 12.1% 24
Drag -3 20 -14.4% 20 1.6% 36
Flat -13 26 -21.2% 28 5.6% 21
Slant -37 33 -25.4% 35 7.7% 16
Post -46 36 -61.7% 34 3.3% 8
Dig -49 36 -38.7% 36 5.4% 23
WR/TE Screen -73 32 -47.5% 27 6.5% 13

Wentz had positive value on go/flies, corners, fades, and outs. In short, he was still somewhat effective when throwing to the perimeter. However, he was dead last on both posts and digs, and also ranked 30th or worse on deep crosses, curls, and slants. It's those interior routes where he really struggled. If Frank Reich can improve Wentz's performance on those throws—or just eliminate them from the playbook and let Wentz to what Wentz does best—the Colts could contend in the AFC South.

Comments

3 comments, Last at 31 Aug 2021, 11:15pm

3 Funny that Rodgers threw the…

Funny that Rodgers threw the more passes to routes that did poorly on than on routes that were the most successful. 

The charts also reinforce my thinking that Rodgers thrives on broken plays and his pass protection has never needed to be star quality.