The NFL is on pace to have its best passing season in league history. No, not a specific team, but the league as a whole — there will have been more passes caught for more effective yardage over the 2014 NFL season than ever before, in the entire span of the National Football League’s 44 year existence (while the NFL was founded in 1940, it didn’t really become the NFL until the merger in 1970). That’s pretty cool. It’s also not that surprising, in that the league has become increasingly pass happy, with the game evolving away from short yardage pounded out by running backs hurling themselves into linemen for entire drives at a time.
The good people over at Football Perspective recently put together a really great post illustrating exactly how much the yardage per season has increased, and it’s a tremendous read, but we were a little more interested in which teams had been leading the charge since a rule change in 1978 really opened up the field for offenses by disallowing defenders from roughing the passer more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage, which paved the way for many more receptions, many more points on the board, and many more wizened family figures griping about the good old days and the way football was played when “men were real men” and the like.
So, in celebration of the fact that the passing game is awesome, and that more passing leads to more entertaining football, we’ve compiled a list of the seven teams that have taken the most advantage of the 1978 rule change by compiling the most throwing yards since the new rule was enacted. The data, as per usual, comes from Pro Football Reference.