Drew Brees, 2011: 5,476 yards
Dan Marino's single-season record for passing yards stood for 27 years before being broken in 2011 ‒ twice. Tom Brady topped it and Drew Brees smashed it, throwing for 5,476 yards to Marino's 5,084. Matthew Stafford and Eli Manning were in the ballpark, too.
Not one of those guys shouldn't be as good or better than they were last season. For Stafford, 2011 was pretty much just his second year in the league, as he missed most of 2010 due to injury. He's still getting better, and his chemistry with Calvin Johnson can only get more explosive. Speaking of which …
4. Receiving Yards
Jerry Rice, 1995: 1,848 yards
Johnson was only 167 yards shy of Rice's single-season receiving yards record last year, and I feel like Johnson has a better season in him. He can make up that 167 yards in a quarter, if he chooses to. Obviously, health is key (as it is with all these records) for both Johnson and Stafford if this record is going to fall.
Titus Young can be a factor, too. He can develop into a better complementary receiver than Nate Burleson, and if he does, he can help free Johnson up a little bit. As good as they were in 2011, there's room for Johnson and the Lions offense to grow.
3. Rookie Completion Percentage
Ben Roethlisberger, 2004: 66.44%
I'd feel better about this one if Andrew Luck had a better supporting cast. Reggie Wayne will be great to have around, of course, and Coby Fleener, his college tight end, will be a nice security blanket to have around. Donald Brown leads the rushing attack, though, and the second receiver spot is Austin Collie's, and I don't know if the Colts can count on a lot from Collie this season.
Still, Luck comes into the league with a maturity that's rare among rookie quarterbacks. It's like he was built in a lab to break this record. It's not just him, either. Four rookies have already been ordained opening day starters ‒ Luck, Robert Griffin III, Brandon Weeden and Ryan Tannehill. Russell Wilson could make it five. The more people who try, the more likely it is that one will succeed.
Michael Strahan, 2001: 22.5
Jared Allen, with 22 sacks last season, came up just a half a sack short of Strahan's record. I don't see him slowing down much. DeMarcus Ware has his sights on the record, too, as he notched 19.5 sacks last season.
This record can fall for the same reason that so many passing records can fall ‒ there are more throws in the NFL today than there have ever been. The more dropbacks there are, the more opportunities we have for sacks. This one's falling sooner than later, even without Brett Favre around to hand it to somebody.
1. Pass Attempts
Drew Bledsoe, 1994: 691
I was surprised to see, given the passing orgy that the NFL's become, that the single-season record for passing attempts has stood since 1994. That's 17 years. Numbers two, three, four and five on the list have all happened within the last two seasons, but no one's been able to take down Bledsoe's 691 attempts from 1994.
And it wasn't like the '94 Patriots threw the ball that much because they were so good at it. Bledsoe, with more attempts than anyone in NFL history, didn't approach 5,000 yards, had more interceptions than touchdowns (27 to 25), and averaged just 6.6 yards per passing attempt ‒ on par with what Andy Dalton gave the Bengals last year.
No, the Patriots threw the ball that much in '94 because they couldn't run it. Leading rusher Marion Butts got an average of 2.9 yards on his 243 carries. Leroy Thompson and Kevin Turner averaged 3.1 yards. Thompson and Turner did combine for 117 catches, though.
Brees, Brady and Stafford, with a full 16-game season, should each have over 640 pass attempts. If the Saints, Patriots or Lions turn out to have a poor season, trailing in more games will help push them towards 691. It's a matter of time before this one falls.
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