|One of the best at gaining yards after the catch, of Patriot Wes Welker's 138 receiving yards Sunday, 71 came after the initial grab. (FILE/JIM DAVIS/GLOBE STAFF)|
Stat worth yakking about
Yards after catch have helped cause
FOXBOROUGH - Put the three letters together and they don't spell a word, but in football-speak, no explanation is needed. The YAC - a.k.a. yards after catch - can be a quarterback's best friend.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made the point after Sunday's win over the Dolphins, saying he couldn't take credit for all of his 354 passing yards because a good chunk came after the catch. Brady was plenty accurate in completing 21 of 25 throws, but how accurate were his thoughts about the YAC produced by the team's pass-catchers?
Quite accurate, in fact.
YAC is not an official NFL statistic, but a simple review of the game tape can suffice, and Sunday's game produced 160 yards after the initial catch, an astronomical total.
Of receiver Wes Welker's 138 receiving yards, 71 came after the initial grab. Welker's shiftiness after the catch, of course, is nothing new to the Patriots.
"He was a thorn in our side when he was [in Miami]," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said.
Now the tables are turned, which is why Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas was calling the 5-foot-9-inch, 185-pound Welker - one of the NFL's smaller players - "a beast."
As Welker and the team's other pass-catchers often note, there are two key elements to high YAC totals - the ability to run and elude tacklers after the catch, and the quarterback delivering an accurate ball that gives the receiver a chance to get upfield. The Patriots were clicking in this regard Sunday, although the Redskins figure to be a tougher challenge this week, as Washington's secondary is arguably its strongest unit.
Sunday's YAC totals were bolstered by Donte' Stallworth gaining 40 yards after the reception - 25 on his 30-yard first-quarter touchdown, and another 15 on a fourth-quarter screen that helped the Patriots milk the clock.
Running back Heath Evans (26), receiver Randy Moss (13), running back Kevin Faulk (6), and tight end Kyle Brady (4) also chipped in to the impressive YAC effort.
The Patriots traditionally have been shrewd with their offseason moves, spending carefully and placing a high value on draft picks, while the Redskins regularly have been quick to dish out the cash in free agency and after acquiring players via trade - sometimes sending owner Daniel Snyder's private plane for players - while trading draft picks to plug immediate holes.
But there was a role reversal this year, as the Patriots had one of their busiest offseasons in Bill Belichick's eight-year tenure and the Redskins were quieter than normal.
From a personnel standpoint, Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said he respects the Patriots' cohesion.
"Being able to get players and get the right players and then keep them together and play whatever scheme you play, they've been outstanding in acquiring talent," he said. "The whole organization from top to bottom, you don't get to where they are and do all the things they've done without having outstanding ownership and coaching and having great personnel people."
How have the Redskins attempted to model themselves after the Patriots?
"Their last Super Bowl year [in 2004], we went back and looked at every single one of their offensive plays; we studied them because they were so good and dominated teams that year," Gibbs said.