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Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Next Level: Yards after catch and more

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

The Next Level statistical packet produced each week by ESPN Stats & Information is a veritable treasure trove.

The packet and I spent some quality time together this morning.

Our big theme out of it shall be yards after the catch. AFC South teams are excellent in the category on both sides of the ball.

Among players with nine catches of more, the division boasts some guys who’ve done very well after the catch:
In overall YAC, the Jaguars are getting 50.1 percent of their yards in the passing game after the catch, the fifth-most in the league. The Colts are seventh (48.5), the Texans are eighth (48.3) and the Titans are ninth (48.0).

I’m a bit surprised here. YAC is usually a product of well-thrown balls that lead targets into open spaces and explosive players who are able to take advantage. But the Jaguars and Colts have inexperienced quarterbacks and the Jaguars and Titans lack explosive playmakers.

"Good YAC really tells me is that there is most likely very good quarterback play in terms of accuracy and hitting guys in stride....but I'm not sure how much that describes the quarterbacks in your division," said Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. "Hasselbeck and Schaub qualify. Playing calling also has a ton to do with it. Bubble screens/slants/etc. are going to yield more YAC than out routes."

Three of the teams are also good at limiting yards after the catch, which also surprises me as I don’t think the Jaguars (tied for fourth with a 6.4 yard YAC average), the Texans (tied for sixth at 6.6) and the Titans (tied for 10th) rank as great tackling teams though they can be good at rallying to the ball.

The Colts and Patriots are the league’s worst teams at defending yards after the catch, allowing an average of 8.5.

Other Next Level nuggets of note: