7 stats that explain Week 1 in the NFL

There are levels to examining statistics in football. The most scant observation in the box score, which honestly, tells you almost nothing. If you didn’t watch a second of football on Sunday you’d believe Desmond Ridder was the most reliable quarterback in the NFL, when in reality he was garbage for the entire game when he wasn’t throwing outlet passes to running backs.

Where you can really learn about a team. Truly understand a game comes in the advanced statistics. Elements to the game that aren’t surfaced to the general public outside of tidbits of curiosity inside a broadcast. Thankfully the NFL now tracks almost everything about the game at NFL Next Gen Stats, giving unprecedented understanding for those who want to dig deeper.

Today we dive inside those stats and explain Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season.


That’s the average intended air yards (IAY) by Justin Fields on Sunday. Whether a factor of the offense he was being given to run, or decisions by Fields with the ball in his hands, the Bears’ quarterback was second-worst in the NFL after Desmond Ridder.

Only asking a QB to throw 3.3 yards downfield is the definition of a broken passing offense. Any functional passing attack averages over 6.0 IAY, with great ones having success well over 8.0. For sake of comparison Jordan Love finished with a 10.0 IAY against the Bears.

This is horrific considering one of the big selling points for the Bears this year was the D.J. Moore would be the air threat this team was missing. Moore finished with just 2 catches for 25 yards.


The number of pass attempts Anthony Richardson made outside of the left hash mark on Sunday.

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In total the rookie had a fairly decent day, but this is a pretty stunning spray chart. Watch this moving forward, because players won’t have much time to lock onto one side of the field like this without getting punished down the line. Defenses will key in on the lack of pass spread and punish a QB who can’t operate on both sides of the field.


This is the percentage of runs Christian McCaffrey made against a defense featuring eight or more men in the box. Naturally this makes picking up yards considerably more difficult, but the 49ers running back decimated the Steelers for a league-high 152 yards on the week.

This is incredible if you’re a 49ers fan, because it shows that Pittsburgh were respecting McCaffrey so much that they stacked the box to stop him, which in turn opened up the passing game for Brock Purdy — exactly as you’d want this offense to operate.

Now if teams decide to move out of the box to stop the pass it should allow McCaffrey to break more huge gains downfield.


That’s the number of Bryce Young’s receivers in Carolina who finished with higher-than-average separation.

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A rookie’s first start at QB is always going to be a little rough, but the Panthers aren’t doing the No. 1 overall pick any favors with the weapons they have around him. Only Laviska Shenault was able to get any real separation, and his numbers are a bit of fool’s gold as the 4th receiver was used more as a backfield gadget player against the Falcons than a true pass catcher.

Asking your young QB to throw into almost non-existent windows because the receivers can’t get away from their man is a recipe for a long, long season.


The average pressure distance the Cowboys got on the Giants is unreal. This metric evaluates how far away from the QB (on average) each pass rusher is when the quarterback either throws the ball, or is sacked.

In the NFL the average is 4.57 yards. The ENTIRE COWBOYS PASS RUSH averaged 3.76.

  • Sam Williams: 3.4
  • Micah Parsons: 3.45
  • Dante Fowler: 3.6
  • Chauncey Golston: 4.59

This is an unreal amount of pressure and highlights both the Cowboys’ pass rushing talent, as well as how awful the Giants offensive line was.


That’s how many completions Joe Burrow made of 10+ yards against the Browns.

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This wasn’t just one of the worst passing performances of the week, but the worst of Burrow’s career. His quarterback vision was all over the place on Sunday, and hopefully for Bengals fans this was just a blip on the radar.


That’s how many miles-per-hour Tyreek Hill was running on his 47-yard TD reception. Hill had the two fastest recorded plays in the NFL on Sunday, with Jaylen Waddle having the 4th quickest speed play.

The Dolphins are flat out built to put the ball in the hands of their playmakers and say “good luck” to anyone hoping to keep up with them in a track meet. It’s electric to watch, and teams are going to have to invest a lot of energy trying to come up with ways to mitigate that amount of speed.

Miami is in a great place moving forward.

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