- Aaron Schatz
Does it seem like more quarterbacks this season have outstanding completion percentages than ever before? It may be because, in fact, more quarterbacks this season do have outstanding completion rates than ever before. This season, for the first time in NFL history, the top 10 quarterbacks all have completion rates above 65 percent, and for the third straight season the league-wide completion rate is at 61 percent or higher.
One big reason completion rates are so high is the continued rise of the short passing game. All those little hooks, quick slants and bubble screens do a lot to improve completion percentage. So far this season, NFL quarterbacks are completing roughly 71.5 percent of all short passes (five yards past the line of scrimmage or shorter), 59 percent of all medium-range passes (6-15 yards), 48 percent of all deep passes (16-25 yards) and 27 percent of what we call "deep bombs" (26 or more yards downfield).
That's a pretty big difference between the average completion rate on short passes compared to deep passes. So perhaps the standard "completion percentage" stat isn't the best way to measure quarterback accuracy. What if we looked at completion percentage separated into short, mid-range and deep passes? This is particularly appropriate given this week's matchup on "Monday Night Football," because both quarterbacks show up on the list of passes with the best completion percentage on passes over 15 yards:
Drew Brees is one of the best deep passers in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders' advanced metrics. And he'll have to go downfield often if the Saints expect to topple the Patriots on Monday night.