Welcome to the Advanced Stat of the Week column. Each week, I'll be explaining an advanced (or semi-advanced) stat and illustrating how understanding it can affect your knowledge of each team in the division.
This week's stat is Net Yards per Attempt (NY/A).
Net yards per attempt is a derivative of the grandfather of all passing stats: Yards Per Attempt (YPA). YPA may be the single most telling stat in football. If you want to know why teams win and lose, first look at their YPA. Passing yards are wholly irrelevant to winning football games, but YPA goes a long way to determining the outcome.
Like its stately cousin, NY/A helps us understand what happens each time the quarterback drops back for a pass. NY/A is calculated by subtracting sack yardage from passing yardage, then dividing by passes attempted plus sacks. In other words:
(yards passing-sack yards)/(pass attempts+sacks)=Net Yards per Attempt
Today, let's apply this stat to the 2011 Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars fielded one of the best defenses in football and a credible running game in 2011, but they won just five games.
The answer can be found in NY/A. The Jags were dead last in the NFL in this bellwether stat. They averaged just 4.2 yards per drop-back.
How bad was it?
We all know the Indianapolis Colts struggled passing the ball without Peyton Manning. Still, their motley crew of Collins, Painter and Orlovsky still managed 5.3 NY/A, a full yard better than Blaine Gabbert. A full yard per pass is a huge difference.
By the way, it was four yards and attempt worse than league-leading Green Bay.
The two components that make up NY/A were both bad for the Jaguars.
Gabbert's normal YPA of 5.36 was so bad that since 1970, only two men with 400 attempts in a season were worse: Jack Trudeau and Joey Harrington.
When you add in a league-high 293 sack yards lost, the result is a passing cataclysm the likes of which the league has rarely seen.
The 2011 Jaguars were a very good team with a very bad quarterback. When you combine amazing defense with awful passing, the result is a 5-11 season. Whereas teams routinely overcome awful running games to make the playoffs and even win Super Bowls, a putrid passing game is the NFL equivalent of death.