Published: Sept. 21, 2018 at 11:20 a.m.
Updated: Sept. 21, 2018 at 11:26 a.m.

Next Gen Stats: Compelling figures that could shape Week 3

Want to see the numbers behind the numbers? Nick Shook dives into a fresh batch of Next Gen Stats and identifies figures that are helping to shape the NFL narrative in Week 3.

6 Photos Total

  • While Vikings fans were thrilled by <a href="http://www.nfl.com/videos/minnesota-vikings/0ap3000000962804/Can-t-Miss-Play-Thielen-catches-incredible-TD-in-crunch-time">Adam Thielen's incredible catch between two defenders</a> in Minnesota's eventual tie with Green Bay, the numbers prove it was worth more than just excitement. Thielen's 22-yard touchdown reception was the least likely completion of the 2018 season, per Next Gen Stats' new metric, completion probability. Kirk Cousins' heave to the wideout had a 12.4 percent chance of being completed. The only other play in that ballpark of probability was <a href="http://www.nfl.com/videos/baltimore-ravens/0ap3000000961909/Can-t-Miss-Play-John-Brown-catches-TD-in-airtight-coverage">Joe Flacco's touchdown pass to John Brown</a> in Week 2, caught with 0.7 yards of separation and Flacco under pressure. 6

    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    More than a Thielen

    While Vikings fans were thrilled by Adam Thielen's incredible catch between two defenders in Minnesota's eventual tie with Green Bay, the numbers prove it was worth more than just excitement. Thielen's 22-yard touchdown reception was the least likely completion of the 2018 season, per Next Gen Stats' new metric, completion probability. Kirk Cousins' heave to the wideout had a 12.4 percent chance of being completed. The only other play in that ballpark of probability was Joe Flacco's touchdown pass to John Brown in Week 2, caught with 0.7 yards of separation and Flacco under pressure.

  • In desperate need of a conversion (and really, a touchdown), rookie burner Antonio Callaway set the week's highest speed, hitting 21.48 mph on his 47-yard touchdown catch on fourth down late in Cleveland's eventual loss to New Orleans. Callaway reached the speed while traveling a total distance of 58.6 yards and posted the third-fastest mark of the season, bested only by the "Cheetah," Kansas City's Tyreek Hill, who nearly broke 22 mph in Week 1. 5

    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Speed for need

    In desperate need of a conversion (and really, a touchdown), rookie burner Antonio Callaway set the week's highest speed, hitting 21.48 mph on his 47-yard touchdown catch on fourth down late in Cleveland's eventual loss to New Orleans. Callaway reached the speed while traveling a total distance of 58.6 yards and posted the third-fastest mark of the season, bested only by the "Cheetah," Kansas City's Tyreek Hill, who nearly broke 22 mph in Week 1.

  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have stormed onto the scene in 2018, with much thanks due to the Ryan Fitzpatrick-DeSean Jackson connection. In just two games, Jackson has caught as many deep passes (20-plus air yards) from Fitzpatrick as he did from Jameis Winston during the <i>entire</i> 2017 season. Fitzpatrick-to-Jackson is a perfect 5-for-5 on deep passes, racking up 46.4 yards per attempt, three touchdowns and a perfect passer rating of 158.3. 4

    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Deep-Jax

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have stormed onto the scene in 2018, with much thanks due to the Ryan Fitzpatrick-DeSean Jackson connection. In just two games, Jackson has caught as many deep passes (20-plus air yards) from Fitzpatrick as he did from Jameis Winston during the entire 2017 season. Fitzpatrick-to-Jackson is a perfect 5-for-5 on deep passes, racking up 46.4 yards per attempt, three touchdowns and a perfect passer rating of 158.3.

  • Teams know they need to pressure quarterbacks -- and they're doing it. Problem is, for three defenses last week, it still didn't help much. Three quarterbacks -- Blake Bortles, Patrick Mahomes and Kirk Cousins -- were pressured on 34 percent or more of their pass attempts in Week 2, and each logged four-plus TD tosses (Mahomes finished with six). The key to their success: getting the ball out quickly. Each of the three quarterbacks posted an average time to throw of under 2.8 seconds in their Week 2 games. Bortles and Mahomes won their games, while Cousins' Vikings tied. 3

    Associated Press

    Pressure makes diamonds

    Teams know they need to pressure quarterbacks -- and they're doing it. Problem is, for three defenses last week, it still didn't help much. Three quarterbacks -- Blake Bortles, Patrick Mahomes and Kirk Cousins -- were pressured on 34 percent or more of their pass attempts in Week 2, and each logged four-plus TD tosses (Mahomes finished with six). The key to their success: getting the ball out quickly. Each of the three quarterbacks posted an average time to throw of under 2.8 seconds in their Week 2 games. Bortles and Mahomes won their games, while Cousins' Vikings tied.

  • Ryan Fitzpatrick's eye-popping afternoon against Philadelphia (27 of 33 passing, 402 yards, four touchdowns, one interception, 144.4 passer rating) included one stat we've yet to reveal. Fitzpatrick's 81.8 completion percentage, while sterling, is even more impressive when considering it was 15.8 percent higher than his expected completion percentage. Only Patrick Mahomes had a better difference (20.7 percent above expected completion percentage). 2

    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    FitzMagic continues

    Ryan Fitzpatrick's eye-popping afternoon against Philadelphia (27 of 33 passing, 402 yards, four touchdowns, one interception, 144.4 passer rating) included one stat we've yet to reveal. Fitzpatrick's 81.8 completion percentage, while sterling, is even more impressive when considering it was 15.8 percent higher than his expected completion percentage. Only Patrick Mahomes had a better difference (20.7 percent above expected completion percentage).

  • Chicago's defense recorded six sacks in a Monday night win over Seattle in Week 2, yet the Bears only pressured Russell Wilson on 19 percent of his attempts. The only other team with similar numbers was Cleveland, which finished with half as many sacks. The most important difference between the two isn't sacks, though -- it's how well they covered. While Cleveland created tight windows for Drew Brees to throw into on just 5.7 percent of his attempts, Chicago did so to Wilson on 25 percent of his attempts. The average separation of receiver and defender on pass attempts was 2.7 yards. The Bears' defense is playing effective football at every level through two weeks. 1

    Associated Press

    Monsters of the Midway return?

    Chicago's defense recorded six sacks in a Monday night win over Seattle in Week 2, yet the Bears only pressured Russell Wilson on 19 percent of his attempts. The only other team with similar numbers was Cleveland, which finished with half as many sacks. The most important difference between the two isn't sacks, though -- it's how well they covered. While Cleveland created tight windows for Drew Brees to throw into on just 5.7 percent of his attempts, Chicago did so to Wilson on 25 percent of his attempts. The average separation of receiver and defender on pass attempts was 2.7 yards. The Bears' defense is playing effective football at every level through two weeks.