Twice during the 2012 NFL regular season, we took a look at just how pass-happy the current state of affairs are in the NFL. Thanks to NFL.com’s milestone tracker we found out just how aired-out of a league this is, and while a million quarterbacks didn’t throw for 4,000 yards, 11 of them did, and that’s the most ever in a single season. Plus, there aren’t even a million quarterbacks in the NFL. What were we thinking?
But no, NFL quarterbacks meant serious business this season. The 11 who surpassed 4,000 yards all contributed to the NFL record, breaking the previous one of 10 such quarterbacks in 2011 and 2009. In order, they were: Drew Brees (5,177), Matthew Stafford (4,967), Tony Romo (4,903), Tom Brady (4,827), Matt Ryan (4,719), Peyton Manning (4,659), Andrew Luck (4,374), Aaron Rodgers (4,295), Josh Freeman (4,065), Carson Palmer (4,018), Matt Schaub (4,008). GAUDY!
Anyway, here are some other tiny little morsels from our observations.
Drew Brees is responsible for half of all the 5,000-yard passing seasons, ever.
The feat has been accomplished six times — once by Dan Marino, once by Brady, once by Stafford, and thrice by Brees. Don’t try to rationalize it, it’s just the way it is. If you’re looking for any sort of loophole, it’s that he’s never had a stellar defense at his back (at least one that didn’t get paid to lay down the hurt), often finding himself on one end of a total shootout, needing to air it out and score with haste to stay in games. He’s won those shootouts more often than not, at least until his historically putrid defense bested him this season.
Regardless, you still need to possess the skill to compete in a shootout at all. He isn’t the methodical mastermind Manning or Brady are commonly regarded as, nor as versatile as some would say Aaron Rodgers is, nor has he ever thrown to a true all-pro receiver (don’t argue with me that Marques Colston is in the same league as a Marvin Harrison or Randy Moss in their primes). But I guess superhuman accuracy and a smart coach will get you somewhere.
Three passers are now in the top-10 passing seasons of all-time.
In case you needed someone to hold your hand, those passers would be Brees, Stafford and Romo. Brees and Stafford join themselves (among others), while Romo is a first-time offender. Something tells me you’d be hard pressed to remember the prolific season Romo had a few years down the line, and maybe Stafford for that matter. The previous 10th-best season was Schaub’s ’09 campaign, which Brady did eclipse this year, but thanks to oversaturation at the top, could not crack the top-10.
Andrew Luck is King of the Rookies
The scary thing is, Luck isn’t even the odds-on favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. This isn’t to say he doesn’t have as good a shot as any, but Russell Wilson and RGIII have equal shares of the pie themselves. Hell, in another world, Doug Martin and Trent Richardson make damn good cases too. Although Luck might not receive any such accolade, he broke Cam Newton’s rookie passing record, which stood for all of 15 NFL weeks. Considering he entered the most damaged offense of any of the aforementioned rookie QBs, this is one he earned outright.
This league is what it is, but this draft class is an anomaly. Luck and Griffin had the shit hyped out of them, but they lived up to it and then some, and they aren’t even done. Call me crazy, but I don’t see Matt Barkley replicating what rookie signal-callers did in 2012. I guess nobody saw Wilson coming, but I can’t in good conscience think this is going to happen again next year.
The moral of the story:
If Adrian Peterson can’t win the MVP this year, no one but quarterbacks will ever win the award again. It was fun while it lasted, everyone else.