Yards after the catch, otherwise known as YAC. It’s an important stat in any offense and it’s a staple of the Chip Kelly offense. It’s one of the main reasons why the Eagles lead the NFL in the amount of 20+ yard pass plays with 56. The next closest team is the Denver Broncos who have 46 passing plays of 20 yards or more (The Eagles also lead the NFL with 16 passing plays of 40 yards or more). Getting good YAC is a sign of 3 things: a) A quality play design which results in a player having the opportunity to catch the ball in space, b) An accurately thrown pass that hits the intended target in stride and allows the player to run after the catch, and c) The intended target being able to haul in the catch while maintaining his speed and being able to make a play once the ball is in his hands. The Eagles got a ton of all three on Sunday vs. the Redskins and it was a big factor in their explosive offensive output.
Nick Foles completed 17 of 26 passes on Sunday for 298 yards. Of those 298 yards, 178 of them came as a result of yards gained after the catch. That’s nearly 60% of his total output. Furthermore, 178 yards on 17 completions comes out to 10.5 YAC per completion. That’s a lot of YAC.
Some of these plays came as a result of properly timed and executed screen passes which caught the defense off guard, such as the 24 yard screen to Bryce Brown and the 43 yard screen to Brent Celek. Other plays came as a result of accurate throws by Foles which allowed his receivers to pick up chunks of yards after the catch, such as the 26 yard pass to Desean Jackson (24 yards gained after the catch), the 16 yard catch by Zach Ertz (12 yards gained after the catch). and the 49 yard pass play to LeSean McCoy shown below (32 yards gained after the catch).
Nick Foles has been performing very well against the blitz this year, consistently finding the open man and making teams pay for sending additional rushers. Sunday was no exception. The Redskins blitzed Foles 10 times. Of those 10 blitz attempts, Foles completed 5 of 8 passes for 104 yards (13 yards per attempt), ran once for 7 yards, and was sacked once. He would have completed 6 passes but Zach Ertz dropped a pass that would have gone for a first down. 4 of his 5 completions went for first downs, and on the play where he ran for 7 yards, he picked up a first down. So out of the Redskins’ 10 blitz attempts, the Eagles picked up a first down on half of them.
As a defense, when you blitz it’s a battle of risk vs reward, and you hope that the reward of forcing the offense into a negative play (ie sack, incomplete pass, interception) outweighs the risk (giving up a big play, first down, touch down). On Sunday, the Eagles won that battle.
Bonus points to me for resisting the urge to name this segment “YACkety YAC, don’t talk back”.