The NFL has seen the most prolific start on offense to any season in its history. According to NFL Football Operations, new league-wide records were set virtually across the board in the passing game through the first three weeks. Quarterbacks have completed 2248 passes at a rate of 65.5 percent for 168 touchdowns, producing a collective passer rating of 93.2.
Patrick Mahomes and Ryan Fitzpatrick became the first players in NFL history to throw for at least four touchdowns in their first two games. Mahomes set the record for the pass touchdown passes in the first three games of a season. Fitzpatrick set the record for the most yards in the first three games of a season, and became the first player to ever throw for over 400 yards in three consecutive games—ever.
There has never been a better time to be a quarterback in the NFL, that’s for sure, but I wouldn’t be so quick to attribute it entirely to new rules and enforcement emphases designed to protect the quarterback. It’s indisputable that it is a factor, but we are also in a bit of a golden era of quarterback talent. Look at what Jared Goff is doing with the Rams.
Four quarterbacks have already thrown at least 10 touchdown passes this season—though admittedly two of them have already played four games—which means that there are four quarterbacks on pace to throw for 40 or more touchdowns in a single season. That has only been done 12 times before by eight different quarterbacks, and only once has more than one done it in the same season. Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees all managed the feat in 2011.
17 quarterbacks are currently averaging at least 250 passing yards per game, which is the amount of yards over a 16-game season one would have to average in order to hit 4000 for a season. Of those 17, all of them are full-time starters who have not been injured, though in the case of Carson Wentz, the lowest on the list at 255 yards per game, he has already missed a game.
Four quarterbacks reached 4000 yards in 2017. Seven managed it in 2016. Eight in 2015, and a record nine came in 2014 and 2013. The league can somewhat realistically see that number double this year, or at least come pretty close to it. There are seven quarterbacks averaging over 300 yards per game alone.
Part of the reason quarterbacks are being so successful is because they are being more efficient, and being more efficient has also led to them throwing the ball more often on top of that. Six full-time starters are completing more than 70 percent of their passes. Six are averaging over 40 pass attempts per game.
What will we see tonight in Heinz Field? the Pittsburgh Steelers–Baltimore Ravens have not been bereft of the occasional shootout lately. Ben Roethlisberger threw for over 500 yards in the last game, Joe Flacco 269. And both of them are among those averaging over 40 attempts per game right now.