Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Season in Review: Passing Yards

We continue to assess the 2007 Pittsburgh Steelers within a historical context (both in comparison to previous Steelers teams, and compared with NFL averages), and turn our attention to the passing attack. As we saw in our assessment of the running game that facet of the offense has declined slightly in net total yards. Given that we expected a slight upward trend in passing yardage. Here's what the numbers look like:

Net Passing Yards2,5433,1133,8323,3042,7202,9263,7333,071

The idea that winning teams run more (i.e. they run because the are winning) and losing teams throw is challenged somewhat by the numbers we see here. The 2002 Steelers -- which threw for the more yards than any other during the last eight seasons -- had a record of 10-5-1, and went on to reach the divisional playoff round before losing a close game (can anyone forget the roughing the kicker call against Dewayne Washington?). However, the drop of nearly 18% in passing yards from 2006 to 2007 that coincides with an improved recordis in line with expectations.

We now turn our attention to how the Steelers measure up to the NFL averages, and here's how that looks:

The Steelers have been, more-or-less, slightly below average in passing yards compared to the competition -- as expected.

We also want to take a look, side-by-side, at the trends in the rushing and passing games:

What is surprising about this graphic is that the two lines do not routinely move in opposite directions. Our expectation was that as one facet of the offensive attack increased, the other would decrease. Instead, we see that both facets have trended (with some exceptions -- see 2004-2006) in the same direction (see 2000-2003, and 2007) leading us to conclude that overall offensive output, rather than remaining fairly consistent, expands and contracts.

To find out whether this is found throughout the league we offer one last chart showing the Steelers rushing and passing yardage along with the NFL averages for rushing and passing:

Averages flatten out the lines, we get that. But there just something . . . different about the Steelers offensive output; and honestly, we're not sure what to think.