NFL: Week 6 Notes

NFL teams airing it out as passing yards at all-time high.

2010_nfl_notes.jpg


Through the first five weeks of the 2010 season, passing yardage is at an all-time high. Net passing yards for the first five weeks is 33,452, the most ever at this point in a season.

"More teams are emphasizing the throwing game now," says NBC analyst and former head coach TONY DUNGY. "More and more people think that throwing the ball is the way you've got to win now."

"It's a passing league," says NFL Network and CBS analyst SOLOMON WILCOTS. "It's now a pass-first league. Coaches and offensive coordinators want to showcase their best playmaker. This is the deepest pool of quarterbacks in the history of the league. Quarterbacks are given the green light to win games doing what they do best - throwing the ball."

This season, there have already been seven individual 400-yard passing games, including two by San Diego's PHILIP RIVERS. Rivers' two 400-yard performances are tied for the third-most in an entire season, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (four in 1984 and three in 1986).

The seven individual 400-yard passing games are the most in NFL history through the first five weeks of a season . Not only is 2010 on pace for the most such performances in a single season, but with one more 400-yard passing game, it will already tie for the third-most in a season.

MOST 400-YARD PASSING GAMES THROUGH WEEK 5

MOST 400-YARD PASSING GAMES IN A SEASON

SEASON

400-YARD GAMES

SEASON

400-YARD GAMES

2010

7

1986

13

1985

4

2004

13

1989

4

Six tied

8

2002

4

"There's no question there are more good quarterbacks in the league right now," says Chicago Bears offensive coordinator MIKE MARTZ. "When there are more elite players at that position, it opens up the offense."

For the first time in league history, there are three quarterbacks - San Diego's Rivers (1,759), Denver's KYLE ORTON (1,733) and Indianapolis' PEYTON MANNING (1,609) - with at least 1,600 passing yards through their teams' first five games. A fourth - Dallas' TONY ROMO (1,346 through four games) - can increase the record total this Sunday when the Cowboys visit the Minnesota Vikings.

"It's a quarterback league now," says CBS analyst and Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback DAN FOUTS. "It's how the game has evolved. You've got coaches willing to the throw the ball more than ever, and you've got receivers who are the best athletes on the field. Why wouldn't a coach want to use weapons like that?"

YEAR TWO: THE SECOND TIME AROUND

What a difference a year makes! Year two in the NFL can provide a clearer understanding for players of what it takes to succeed.

"Do I feel like I'm better than I was last year? Hands down, without a doubt," says Jets second-year quarterback MARK SANCHEZ, who has his club off to a 4-1 start. "I feel so much more comfortable, sharper. It's only going to build."

Jets' coaches have certainly been impressed with Sanchez's improved decision making in year two. Sanchez has eight touchdowns versus zero interceptions in 2010 and joins former Jets quarterback VINNY TESTAVERDE (2001) as the only quarterbacks since 1970 to have started each of their team's first five games without throwing an interception a season after recording 20-plus interceptions .

Indianapolis Colts second-year wide receiver AUSTIN COLLIE is tied for second in the NFL with 37 receptions and is on pace to surpass his 60-catch performance as a rookie last year. The Colts' fourth-round pick (No. 127) in 2009, Collie says that his increased production in year two is due to playing with confidence and being more relaxed.

"It has to do with being more comfortable," says Collie. "Now I'm a little more to the point of reacting, playing more instinctive as opposed to thinking all of the time. Your first year, you're trying to not make a mistake instead of just playing."

The second-year players that rank in the top five in various statistical categories through Week 5 :

PLAYER

TEAM

CATEGORY

STATISTIC

NFL RANKING

Hakeem Nicks

NY Giants

Touchdowns

6

T2

Austin Collie

Indianapolis

5

T4

Arian Foster

Houston

5

T4

LeSean McCoy

Philadelphia

5

T4

Arian Foster

Houston

Rushing Yards

564

1

LeSean McCoy

Philadelphia

Rushing Touchdowns

5

2

Arian Foster

Houston

4

T3

Austin Collie

Indianapolis

Receptions

37

T2

Hakeem Nicks

NY Giants

33

T4

Danny Amendola

St. Louis

33

T4

Hakeem Nicks

NY Giants

Receiving Touchdowns

6

2

Austin Collie

Indianapolis

5

T3

Alphonso Smith

Detroit

Interceptions

3

T2

Clay Matthews

Green Bay

Sacks

8.5

1

Brandon Tate

New England

Kickoff Return Avg.

33.4

2

Brandon Tate

New England

Kickoff Return TDs

2

T1

LaRod Stephens-Howling

Arizona

1

T2

Stefan Logan

Detroit

1

T2

Houston Texans running back ARIAN FOSTER, who leads the NFL with 564 rushing yards and 716 scrimmage yards, has made a quantum leap in his second season. Foster entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2009 and spent the majority of last year on the Texans' practice squad.

"The more you stay on the field, the more comfortable you get," says Foster. "You gain more respect from your peers and your coaches, and that's always comforting."

Tennessee Titans third-year All-Star running back CHRIS JOHNSON increased his rushing total by 778 yards following his rookie season (1,228 in 2008; 2,006 in 2009). Johnson says the formula to success in year two is attributed to going through an entire offseason.

"As a rookie, you've gone from a bowl game straight to training for the combine to getting ready for the draft, and then you're right in the middle of the workout program and OTAs," says Johnson. "Before you know it, you're playing games. In your second year, you really get your first full offseason to relax and take time off first and then do all of the work it takes to play a full season. Your second training camp is better because you know what to expect and can just go out and play."

The largest increases in several key statistical categories from year one to year two among active players (minimum 10 starts as a rookie) :

PASSING YARDS

Rookie Year

Passing Yards

2nd Year

Passing Yards

Increase

Joe Flacco, Baltimore

2008

2,971

2009

3,613

642

RUSHING YARDS

Rookie Year

Rushing Yards

2nd Year

Rushing Yards

Increase

Le'Ron McClain, Baltimore

2007

18

2008

902

884

RECEIVING YARDS

Rookie Year

Receiving Yards

2nd Year

Receiving Yards

Increase

Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona

2004

780

2005

1,409

629

INTERCEPTIONS

Rookie Year

Interceptions

2nd Year

Interceptions

Increase

Thomas Howard, Oakland

2006

0

2007

6

6

SACKS

Rookie Year

Sacks

2nd Year

Sacks

Increase

Mario Williams, Houston

2006

4.5

2007

14

9.5

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