It is very easy to measure the success of a team or an individual using their numbers. NFL offenses have certainly evolved strategically over time. During some periods, the run is the preferred method of moving the ball. The passing game is king today. More and more teams are taking to the air than ever.
Just look at the top 10 seasons of all time when it comes to passing yards. Quarterbacks who were active last season appear on the top 10 list nine times. Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees appears on the list a staggering five different times. Matthew Stafford, the QB for the Lions, is on there twice. All-time greats Peyton Manning and Tom Brady each appear on the list once.
Even though Brees is in the top 10 five times, he still doesn’t have the most yards in a season in history. That record belongs to a future Hall of Famer, Peyton Manning. It’s interesting to note that, even though Peyton Manning spent a vast majority of his career in Indianapolis, Manning achieved this feat during the twilight of his career in Denver.
The record 5,477 yards. Peyton’s record-setting season edges out Drew Brees’ second-place season by just one yard. It was Peyton’s penultimate season in the league. While in Denver, Manning played behind probably the strongest offensive line of his long career. Indianapolis was well-known to have great skill players and weaker blocking during his tenure in the Circle City.
Why has passing increased?
Passing is more prevalent than ever. Offenses aiming to air it out has been the trend for a few years now. There are few reasons why.
– Prepared quarterbacks – QBs are now coming into the league more prepared than ever. The youth, high school, and college coaching are light years ahead of where they were just 20 years ago.
– Tight Ends – This is a position that has evolved a lot. Tight Ends used to be primarily blockers that occasionally caught passes. Now, they are some of the most athletic players on the offense. In fact, Rob Gronkowski is considered the Patriots’ primary receiver. He is a must-see on Sundays and could go down as the greatest tight end of all time at the end of his career.
– Offenses are spreading out more – Offenses are increasingly spreading out their offenses. Teams use the shotgun formation more than ever. Ironically, this all started because defenses were getting so much more athletic when it came to their pass rush. Teams are also using little darting passes in places of runs in short yardage situations. After all, four yards in the air are still worth the same as four on the ground. As offensive coordinators get even more creative, there will be more developments of this nature.
It stands to reason that Peyton Manning would have the record for most yards in a season. He’s widely considered to be the greatest regular season quarterback in NFL history. His aptitude for reading defenses and predicting their scheme is unequaled. There have periods during his unmatched NFL career where he has run his offense like it was a well-oiled machine.
There is a new generation of quarterbacks entering the league. These young players have taken advantage of the greatest football training in history. For many of them, football has been the central focus of their life since they were small children. Peyton’s record is sure to fall at some point. After all, records were made to be broken.