Preseason Projections Part II: Passing

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There was enough correlation between pre-season rushing stats and regular season rushing stats in 2007 that I wanted to look a little further. I will try to find some time to follow up with run defense and pass defense in subsequent posts.

Passing is quite a bit different than rushing in the pre-season. Teams protect their starting QBs more than any other position. Lots of third string QBs and rookies see their only action of the season at this time. We all know how big of a gap there is between a legit starting QB and a backup, let alone a third stringer.

We have seen Seneca Wallace perform nearly perfectly against Minnesota and Charlie Frye play a stinker and a solid game. We have seen Matt for one series. Trying to project our passing game based on that seems silly, and I would guess it would be for other teams, but let’s take a look and see:

Top 5 2007 Preseason Passing Yards/Game
Indianapolis (272.0)
Detroit (271.8)
Philadelphia (243.2)
Jacksonville (241.5)
St. Louis (236.5)
(Seattle 188.5 – 21st)

Top 5 2007 Regular Season Passing Yards/Game
New England (295.7)
Green Bay (270.9)
New Orleans (269.6)
Dallas (256.6)
Arizona (254.1)
(Seattle 247.8 – 8th)

Uhh…yeah…zero overlap. Seattle’s pre-season numbers seemed to have no bearing on their regular season numbers. I pretty much throw out Seattle’s 2008 preseason stats here (225.7 YPG – 9th). However, that seems like a reasonable reduction in the passing game considering the WR questions and the hopefully resurgent running game. Let’s see about the YPA numbers.

Top 5 2007 Preseason Passing Yards/Attempt
Detroit (8.3)
Jacksonville (8.1)
Pittsburgh (8.0)
Dallas (7.2)
Seattle (7.2)

Top 5 2007 Regular Seasons Passing Yards/Attempts
New England (8.3)
Dallas (8.1)
Green Bay (7.7)
Pittsburgh (7.7)
Indianapolis (7.6)
(Jacksonville was 6th)
(Detroit was 10th)
(Seattle was 13th at 7.1)

Much more correlation here. Four of the top 5 were in the Top 10 in the regular season, and all were in the Top 15. Seattle’s YPA was almost equal from pre-season to regular season as well, so this has some predictive element. That said, knowing all I do about the Hawks, I could not base any regular season passing projection on our pre-season numbers (they are 5th with 7.1 YPA this pre-season) this year due to the tiny amount of time Matt has been in there. Even with all the WR questions, though, I think we’d all be surprised if a Holmgren/Hasselbeck team was not a Top 10 passing offense.

Take all this for what you will, I find myself pretty much where I started: pre-season passing numbers are only mildy predictive of regular season numbers.