PFF's 2016 season superlatives
With the 2016 NFL regular season now in the books, it’s time to take a look at some of the unique data PFF has collected and how this season’s crop of players stack up in regard to those numbers.
We’re not going to be focusing on the raw passing, rushing, or receiving totals that you can get anywhere, but rather take a deeper dive into some of the more advanced and interesting numbers from our database.
Below are players who broke, tied, or came extremely close to PFF statistical records in 2016, as well as the former (or current, in some cases) record-holder for each data point (within the PFF era, which dates back to the 2006 season).
Best CB at limiting yards after catch (YAC)
2016 season: CB Terence Newman (Vikings), 1.07 YAC
Previous single-season record: CB Nnamdi Asomugha (Raiders), 1.25 YAC (2008)
Newman surrendered a ridiculous 31 total yards after the catch all season long. That number is almost the exact same as a receiver catching the ball and then falling forward on every reception. At 38 years old, Newman was among the top 10 CBs for passer rating (62.0), completion percentage (51.8), and yards surrendered (245).
Least likely to turn it over
2016 season: QB Tom Brady (Patriots), 0.8 percent turnover-worthy throw rate
Previous single-season record: QB Aaron Rodgers (Packers), 1.03 percent (2011)
Patriots QB Tom Brady was playing inspired football all season long, and it truly was a different level than any other quarterback performance we’ve seen. Brady only made four turnover-worthy throws all season long. One of his backups, Jacoby Brissett, recorded five, and multiple players had single games with at least four. That’s unbelievable decision-making by the Patriots’ veteran quarterback.
Top-graded NFL QBs this season:
1. Tom Brady, 99.3
2. Matt Ryan, 93.1
3. Aaron Rodgers, 92.6
4. Andrew Luck, 92.4
5. Russell Wilson, 88.4 pic.twitter.com/gtRiPIS1qW
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 3, 2017
Most likely to drag a defender
2016 season: RB Ty Montgomery (Packers), 5.1 yards after contact per attempt
Previous single-season record: RB Michael Turner (Chargers), 4.8 yards after contact per attempt (2006)
Obviously this is a record that can only be realistically broken on a limited number of touches, but averaging over 5 yards after contact is extremely impressive for a single game, let alone for 72 carries, as Montgomery did. He broke 18 tackles on those 72 carries, and his 116.4 elusive rating was also tops among all running backs. Not bad for a guy who started the season as a wideout.
Best pass-protecting guard
2016 season: G Marshal Yanda (Ravens), 99.2 pass-blocking efficiency
Previous single-season record: G Brian Waters, (Chiefs), 99.2 pass-blocking efficiency (2006)
At 32 years old, Marshal Yanda continues to be the gold standard at guard in the NFL. He allowed only six hurries all season long on 612 pass-blocking snaps. That’s utterly ridiculous production for a guy who switched from right to left guard midway through the season. It’s difficult to tab offensive linemen as future Hall-of-Famers, but Yanda fits the bill.
Most efficient wide receiver
2016 season: WR Julio Jones (Falcons), 3.1 yards per route run
Previous single-season record: WR Steve Smith (Panthers), 3.8 yards per route run (2008)
Julio Jones didn’t technically break this record, but it’s still notable (and difficult to believe) that his 3.1 yards per route run mark is the second-best from a receiver that PFF has ever recorded. It might look as if Jones had a down year in terms of his raw stats, but he ran 160 fewer routes in 2016 than he did in 2015. The Falcons’ No. 1 WR also had a ridiculous 11.3 yards per target on the season, the best of any player with 100 targets.
Worst tackling linebackers
2016 season: LBs Telvin Smith (Jaguars) and Alec Ogletree (Rams), 27 missed tackles each
Previous single-season record: LB Kwon Alexander (Buccaneers), 27 (2015)
With linebackers getting smaller and the game spreading wider, missed tackles are going to continue to climb in years to come. Telvin Smith and Alec Ogletree aren’t bad players by any means, but failing to wrap up opponents as often as they do is concerning. Chicago’s Jerrell Freeman was the surest tackling linebacker this year, totaling 113 tackles with only four missed.