Sports Reference Blog

Success Rate Comes to Pro Football Reference!

Posted by Jonah Gardner on September 1, 2023

We've added a brand new stat to PFR. It's Success Rate, one of the coolest and most interesting new advanced stats to enter the football discussion in the last few years.

Success Rate starts with the idea that not all plays in football have the same objective. On first and 10, a two-yard run would be considered a bad result; on third and one, that same two-yard run would be celebrated for moving the chains. This means we can't just use stats like yards to measure how effective an offense is. Instead, Success Rate shows us how effective players and teams are at staying on schedule and creating productive plays.

As a result, a successful play depends on the context. We define it as a play that gains at least 40% of yards required on 1st down, 60% of yards required on 2nd down, and 100% on 3rd or 4th down.

As mentioned, it can be measured for both players and teams, for passing, rushing, and receiving. For example, here are the leaders in 2022 in rushing yards per attempt:


Rushing Table
Rk Player Tm Y/A
1 Justin Fields CHI 7.1
2 Lamar Jackson BAL 6.8
3 Josh Allen* BUF 6.1
4 Daniel Jones NYG 5.9
5 Khalil Herbert CHI 5.7
6 Aaron Jones GNB 5.3
7 Tony Pollard* DAL 5.2
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/31/2023.

And here are the leaders in rushing success rate:


Rushing Table
Rk Player Tm Succ%
1 Lamar Jackson BAL 64.3
2 Josh Allen* BUF 61.3
3 Cordarrelle Patterson ATL 60.4
4 Jalen Hurts* PHI 59.4
5 Daniel Jones NYG 59.2
6 Josh Jacobs*+ LVR 57.4
7 Isiah Pacheco KAN 57.1
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/31/2023.

There's some overlap, of course, but also some key differences. Josh Jacobs averaged 4.9 yards per attempt, outside the top 10, but situationally he was one of the best RBs in the league last year. Meanwhile, Justin Fields averaged the most yards per attempt, but his scrambles and designed runs were less effective at keeping the team on schedule than QBs like Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, or Jalen Hurts.

Success rate is also in Stathead! Our historical data goes back to 1994, when we first have play-by-play data to calculate this, so you can look up career leaders, single season leaders, rookie leaders, single-game leaders, and more.

This was one of our most requested adds; we love user feedback! If there's something you'd like to see on the site, please let us know!

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