Watching every player on every play of every game gives PFF analysts the opportunity to collect an incredible amount of data. Every season, there are a handful of numbers that truly pop, anomalies that can't go unannounced.
So, as we head into the Conference Championship games this weekend, here are some incredible stats from the 2015 season to consider.
Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater was the most accurate passer this season.
Ever since the Louisville pro day debacle before the 2014 draft, critics have been out in full force on Teddy. He’s too slender. He’s weak-armed. His release point is too low. His traditional stats haven’t helped him much, either. 30 games in to his career (including a playoff game), Teddy has 28 touchdowns, 21 interceptions and a passer rating of 87.0.
What the traditional stats don’t show, however, is just how accurate Bridgewater is. The Viking led the NFL in 2015 with an accuracy percentage of 79.3. While this number is inflated by the large amount of short throws required by the Minnesota offense, it is no small feat to be the most accurate in the league. In fact, Teddy scored his best passing grades on throws between 10–19 yards, and broke even on throws over 20 yards.
You have to wonder if Bridgewater’s modest touchdown and yardage totals are more a product of the Vikings' offensive style, rather than an indictment of the QB's abilities.
Luke Kuechly held opposing QBs to a passer rating of 57.8 when his receiver was targeted.
Everyone saw Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly’s amazing pass breakup in the fourth quarter of the Panthers' Divisional Round playoff game against the Seahawks. Seattle was desperately trying to pull off a historic comeback when Russell Wilson unleashed a pass 20 yards down the field just before the 2-minute warning. Showing incredible speed, Kuechly sprinted to the sideline and knocked the pass away from Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin.
Think about that—a middle linebacker broke up a pass on the sideline 20 yards downfield. Kuechly is the only linebacker in the NFL that makes that play, and he’s been doing it all season. On passes thrown into Kuechly’s coverage, quarterbacks have a quarterback rating of 57.8. That is good for first in the league among linebackers—and enough to earn him PFF's Dick “Night Train” Lane Award, which honor's the NFL's best coverage defender.
Jason Witten was targeted on 100 passes. He had zero drops.
Not much went right for the Cowboys this season. They had four different quarterbacks take regular season snaps en route to a 4-12 finish that started with Super Bowl aspirations.
The one constant was tight end Jason Witten, who caught every catchable pass thrown his way. 77 of the 100 targets were deemed catchable. 14 of these were beyond 10 yards, and three were beyond 20 yards. Maybe even more impressive was the 33-year-old’s ability to stay on the field. In a lost season, Witten played in 1,041 of the Cowboys' offensive snaps.
Witten earned PFF's Best Hands Award earlier this week for his incredible 2015 performance.
The Buccaneers' backfield featured two top-five running backs.
Heading into the 2015 training camp, people close to the Buccaneers wondered if Doug Martin would even make the team. The Bucs declined Martin’s fifth-year option, and sent mixed signals on their future plans for the position. Martin removed all doubts, starting with a strong camp and finishing the season second in the league in total rushing yards, behind only Adrian Peterson. In addition, he forced 67 missed tackles to finish first in PFF’s elusive rating. Overall, Martin’s overall grade of 87.8 (1–100 scale) topped all NFL running backs (who played more than six games).
Even more of a surprise—teammate Charles Sims tied for fifth in our RB rankings (84.2 overall grade, level with Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams). Sims' rookie year in 2014 was marred by injuries and subpar play; 2015 was a different story. Sims had positive grades across the board as a runner, pass catcher, and blocker. Both Martin and Sims played in all 16 games, and averaged more than 4.9 yards per carry.
Seahawks OLB K.J. Wright played 994 snaps; he missed just four tackles.
Most NFL teams hope for one elite-level defensive player at each level (defensive line, linebacker, and secondary). Seattle nearly has two such players in each level. Smack in the middle of all these playmakers is Seattle’s most underrated and consistent defender—K.J. Wright.
Wright is rock steady. While playing on 994 snaps, he missed only four tackles all season. He also led the team with 54 stops. Wright is very good against the run, and is elite in pass coverage. While names like Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas grab headlines, Wright may be just as valuable to Seattle's defensive success.