5 crazy good stats from the 2015 NFL season

Ryan Jenson provides five eye-popping statistics from Pro Football Focus' 2015 season data.

| 9 months ago
(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

5 crazy good stats from the 2015 NFL season

Watching every player on every play of every game gives PFF analysts the opportunity to collect an incredible amount of data. Every season, there are a handful of numbers that truly pop, anomalies that can’t go unannounced.

So, as we head into the Conference Championship games this weekend, here are some incredible stats from the 2015 season to consider.

Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater was the most accurate passer this season.

Ever since the Louisville pro day debacle before the 2014 draft, critics have been out in full force on Teddy. He’s too slender. He’s weak-armed. His release point is too low. His traditional stats haven’t helped him much, either. 30 games in to his career (including a playoff game), Teddy has 28 touchdowns, 21 interceptions and a passer rating of 87.0.

What the traditional stats don’t show, however, is just how accurate Bridgewater is. The Viking led the NFL in 2015 with an accuracy percentage of 79.3. While this number is inflated by the large amount of short throws required by the Minnesota offense, it is no small feat to be the most accurate in the league. In fact, Teddy scored his best passing grades on throws between 10–19 yards, and broke even on throws over 20 yards.

You have to wonder if Bridgewater’s modest touchdown and yardage totals are more a product of the Vikings’ offensive style, rather than an indictment of the QB’s abilities.

Luke Kuechly held opposing QBs to a passer rating of 57.8 when his receiver was targeted.

Everyone saw Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly’s amazing pass breakup in the fourth quarter of the Panthers’ Divisional Round playoff game against the Seahawks. Seattle was desperately trying to pull off a historic comeback when Russell Wilson unleashed a pass 20 yards down the field just before the 2-minute warning. Showing incredible speed, Kuechly sprinted to the sideline and knocked the pass away from Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin.

Think about that—a middle linebacker broke up a pass on the sideline 20 yards downfield. Kuechly is the only linebacker in the NFL that makes that play, and he’s been doing it all season. On passes thrown into Kuechly’s coverage, quarterbacks have a quarterback rating of 57.8. That is good for first in the league among linebackers—and enough to earn him PFF’s Dick “Night Train” Lane Award, which honor’s the NFL’s best coverage defender.

Jason Witten was targeted on 100 passes. He had zero drops.

Not much went right for the Cowboys this season. They had four different quarterbacks take regular season snaps en route to a 4-12 finish that started with Super Bowl aspirations.

The one constant was tight end Jason Witten, who caught every catchable pass thrown his way. 77 of the 100 targets were deemed catchable. 14 of these were beyond 10 yards, and three were beyond 20 yards. Maybe even more impressive was the 33-year-old’s ability to stay on the field. In a lost season, Witten played in 1,041 of the Cowboys’ offensive snaps.

Witten earned PFF’s Best Hands Award earlier this week for his incredible 2015 performance.

The Buccaneers’ backfield featured two top-five running backs.

Heading into the 2015 training camp, people close to the Buccaneers wondered if Doug Martin would even make the team. The Bucs declined Martin’s fifth-year option, and sent mixed signals on their future plans for the position. Martin removed all doubts, starting with a strong camp and finishing the season second in the league in total rushing yards, behind only Adrian Peterson. In addition, he forced 67 missed tackles to finish first in PFF’s elusive rating. Overall, Martin’s overall grade of 87.8 (1–100 scale) topped all NFL running backs (who played more than six games).

Even more of a surprise—teammate Charles Sims tied for fifth in our RB rankings (84.2 overall grade, level with Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams). Sims’ rookie year in 2014 was marred by injuries and subpar play; 2015 was a different story. Sims had positive grades across the board as a runner, pass catcher, and blocker. Both Martin and Sims played in all 16 games, and averaged more than 4.9 yards per carry.

Seahawks OLB K.J. Wright played 994 snaps; he missed just four tackles.

Most NFL teams hope for one elite-level defensive player at each level (defensive line, linebacker, and secondary). Seattle nearly has two such players in each level. Smack in the middle of all these playmakers is Seattle’s most underrated and consistent defender—K.J. Wright.

Wright is rock steady. While playing on 994 snaps, he missed only four tackles all season. He also led the team with 54 stops. Wright is very good against the run, and is elite in pass coverage. While names like Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas grab headlines, Wright may be just as valuable to Seattle’s defensive success.

  • Senor Ricardo

    “Even more of a surprise—teammate Charles Sims tied for fifth in our RB ranking…”

    …which verifies the urgent need to reevaluate your methodology.

    • Samuel Myers

      Or at least qualify overall rankings based on number of meaningful snaps, or weigh the overall grade towards the most important facet of a players obligations. Charles Sims had a very good year, with over 1,000 yards from scrimmage, but it’s entirely unfair to Stewart and Williams, primary backs that take consistent 1st and 2nd down carries, to call Charles Sims “level” with them as a running back because he was a strong dual threat player who carried the ball only 100 times as a change of pace behind one of the best players at the position in the league. The problem is that if you look at these rankings you would think Sims brings as much value to his team as Stewart and Williams bring to theirs, and that would be very, very false. They haven’t figured out how to deal with this problem — Zach Ertz has a higher grade than Greg Olson (the primary RECEIVER on a team with almost 0 alternative quality) and apparently Jordan Reed is only 3 points better than Craig Stevens (a fantastic blocker and a good player, but Reed was a game changer. Stevens is a role player. There is no filter that separates them, and that’s why people are upset with the system.

      • crosseyedlemon

        Unfortunately the people who are upset would never be able to agree on what constitutes a “meaningful snap” or what the important facets of a players obligations are.

        • Samuel Myers

          That’s fair. I like this website. I think it offers unique perspective that you really can’t get elsewhere, and in general I think it’s really good at telling you who is playing well and OK at telling you who is playing poorly. It has its flaws but it’s a pioneering approach and I agree that there isn’t any consensus on how to make it better. Suffice it to say, I agree that Charles Sims had a breakout year and did it under the radar, I think his strong rating reflects that and there is probably nowhere else you are going to get this info. I do also think that it’s fair to point out the issues, such as a role-player with relatively limited production out-grading players who made a massive impact on their team’s fortunes. I don’t think you will find a personnel evaluator in the NFL that will take Zach Ertz over Greg Olson, or one who would put Craig Stevens in the same conversation as Jordan Reed. Does Stevens blocking really make as much of an impact on a game as Reed’s receiving? Absolutely not, but when you see their overall grades side-by-side without context, you might think they are pretty close in terms of value — on the other hand, if you want to know which non-household names are really performing well but not getting any credit, this is a good source for that. The best I think.

      • Jack Casey

        But how come with all the complaints and all the people upset with them are they always here checking out all of their data? I just don’t get it if people think PFF is so useless why are they always coming here??

        • anon76returns

          Falling short of potential ≠ useless

        • Ryan G

          Fans get upset with PFF when their player/team isn’t getting good coverage here. When their player/team is then they love this site.

  • Steven Macks

    Regarding Bridgewater’s accuracy, I’d like to see that in context. Who lead the leaguge in accuracy percentage last year, and what was their rate? How about since the beginning of PFF ratings?

    • crashby89

      Teddy did last year as well. It really is all about the scheme when it comes to Teddys low stats. When he is asked to do more he always does. He was great against Denver defense this year until the line let a free rusher get in and strip the ball from him.

  • brocklanders

    I would say the Vikings modest offensive style is an indictment on Bridgewater’s abilities…. Even when he has nothing to lose he plays a tight, safe game.

    • JonLee

      We also have to consider the lack of talented receivers and pass blockers the Vikings have. Last year Teddy played with one of the worst LTs of 2014 and a wide receiver who was only good at outrunning DBs on a 9 route. This year, he played with one of the worst RTs of 2015 and an expensive wide receiver who was only good at outrunning DBs on a 9 route.

    • enai D

      Not really, more a matter of Adrian Peterson being on the roster. Though as JonLee points out, the lack of decent wideouts and one of the worst pass-blocking units in the NFL this year obviously didn’t help either.

  • logic and reason

    Teddy Time! Skol!

    • Kason Edell

      Vikings have no future.

      • Craig W

        Yes, the Vikes sure do seem to be on the down swing. Terrible team……I think you are talking about the rest of the NFC North Kason.

        • Bob

          How the hell is winning the nfc north a down swing?

          • Ryan G


      • “Penned” In

        Do you think that the Green Bay Rodgers hold the NFL record for the fastest two losses in overtime?

        • Tim P

          Green Bay Rodgers 0-7-1 in overtime games in his career and 0-3 in playoff OT games. As a comparison, even the worst of the big-time QBs (Ben Roethlisberger is 6-10 in the regular season, Peyton Manning is 4-8 — Tom Brady is 10-4) aren’t close to Rodgers’ terrible mark.

      • Bob

        And u are both stupid and dumb

      • Ryan G

        The declining Packers bowed to the mighty 2015 NFC North Champions , the Minnesota Vikings, this season.

      • logic and reason

        my diagnosis:

        a serious case of butt hurt. take 2 bratwurst and don’t call me in the morning.

        meat packers…. smh

  • osoviejo

    I’d like to see a weighted accuracy stat based on YIA.