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Brady may be overstating it a tad. But the NFL equates entertainment with scoring and the passing game, and those numbers are noticeably down.

Through Week 6, points per game (43.3), passing yards per game (481.9), and passing yards per attempt (7.02) are at their lowest since 2010. Scoring is down 4.5 points per game from this time last year, and 7.5 from 2020. There have been 77 fewer touchdowns from scrimmage this season compared with last.

And quarterbacks are struggling. The leaguewide passer rating is 88.7, down from 95.2 at this point in 2021 and 94.1 in 2020. The only four quarterbacks with a passer rating better than 100 are Tua Tagovailoa (leading at 109.9), Josh Allen, Geno Smith, and Patrick Mahomes.

Last year through Week 6, there were 12 passers better than 100, and in 2020 there were 11. Russell Wilson had the highest rating in both seasons (125.3 and 129.8).

It’s tempting to equate the struggles to the reduction in preseason games and the number of full-contact practices in training camp, but similar rules were also in place the last two seasons. The 2020 season had no preseason games because of the pandemic and it was the best offensive season in NFL history.

Falcons president Rich McKay, chairman of the competition committee, said the NFL doesn’t have an explanation for the sudden dip.

“We’ve looked at it in a lot of different ways. I’m not sure that we’ve found a good answer,” McKay said. “Are we worried about it right now? No, I’m not. But I think you get to the end of the year, you get to 41 [points per game], you do want to go back and say, ‘What happened here?’ We’re always willing to make adjustments, because we do want points to be in that sweet zone, which for us is 43-47 [points per game].”

Vincent said red-zone efficiency is partly to blame — teams are converting just 56.3 percent into touchdowns, compared with 61.8 percent at this point last year and 62.6 percent in 2020. The number of red-zone trips has also decreased — 593 this year, down from 621 and 635 — while punt and field goal attempts are up.

“There may be points left out, so we’ll continue to monitor that,” Vincent said. “Plays, passes, and penalty count is right where we should be, and we’re hoping as we progress through the season, we’ll see that margin of points being scored where we like.”

The usually excellent Matthew Stafford is one signal-caller that’s out of sorts this season.Sean M. Haffey/Getty

A handful of noteworthy quarterbacks have seen their numbers plummet this year:

▪ The Rams’ Matthew Stafford’s passer rating dropped from 116.6 to 84.6 this year. He had 16 touchdowns against four interceptions last year, and this year that ratio is 6-to-8.

▪ The Cardinals’ Kyler Murray saw his passer rating drop from 116.2 to 81.8 (before Thursday’s game), and his touchdown passes decreased from 14 last year to six this year.

▪ Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins and Washington’s Carson Wentz have dropped 18 rating points, and Carolina’s Baker Mayfield dropped 26.

▪ Brady’s passer rating has taken a hit — from 108 last year to 95.1 this year — but his other numbers have nosedived. He is on pace for 4,681 yards and 23 touchdown passes, compared with 5,316 and 43 last year. His 6.7 yards per attempt would be the third lowest of his career. He has thrown a touchdown on 3.2 percent of his passes — a career worst, and down from 6 percent last year.

▪ And no quarterback’s struggles have been more unexpected or pronounced than those of Wilson, whose stats are the worst of his career. Wilson’s quarterback rating dropped from over 125 the past two seasons to 83.4 this year. His completion percentage dropped from 72 percent the last two years to 58.6 this year. In 2020, Wilson started the year with 19 touchdowns and three picks. This year, he has five touchdowns and three picks. The Broncos are last in scoring (15.2 points per game) and in the red zone (three touchdowns in 15 trips).

There may not be a single explanation for the leaguewide struggles. Stafford had offseason elbow surgery and was a spectator for most of training camp. Brady has had a revolving door of offensive linemen and receivers. The Cardinals’ offense is a mess and Murray perhaps needs to study more film. Cousins, Wentz, and Mayfield are learning new offenses.

Joe Burrow (passer rating down by 12 points) missed most of camp following an appendectomy. Aaron Rodgers is learning new receivers. Wilson is struggling with new teammates and a new system under first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett.

“Not everything meshes all at the same time right away,” Wilson said this past week. “That doesn’t mean it’s not going to. When it does, it’s going to be a great thing.”

Historically, scoring and passing numbers generally go down as the weather gets colder. But the NFL would prefer its quarterbacks, and offenses in general, start heating up.

GOLD RUSH

Lots of upsides to McCaffrey move

The 49ers swung a huge deal for Panthers star Christian McCaffrey.Ashley Landis/Associated Press

A few notes on Thursday night’s blockbuster trade that sent running back Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers:

▪ It’s a great trade for the Niners, with a big “if” — if McCaffrey, 26, can stay healthy. So far, so good this year — he had six starts and played in 85.2 percent of snaps for the Panthers. McCaffrey had three of the Panthers’ seven touchdowns, and 40 percent of their total yards (670).

Put him in Kyle Shanahan’s offense and McCaffrey could be a monster similar to 2019, when he had just the third 1,000/1,000 season in NFL history. An offense featuring McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle sounds like a Pro Bowl roster. Jimmy Garoppolo has to be salivating.

But the injury risk is real. A high ankle sprain and shoulder injuries cost McCaffrey 13 games in 2020. Hamstring and ankle injuries cost him 10 games in 2021. The Niners are gambling that McCaffrey, in his sixth NFL season, can stay on the field.

▪ The 49ers are also punting on the 2023 NFL Draft. They previously traded their first-round pick for Trey Lance. Now they have traded a No. 2, 3, and a 4 for McCaffrey. The Niners have just two compensatory 3s, a 5, and two 7s next year. Hey, it worked for the Rams.

▪ McCaffrey will cost San Francisco just $690,000 for the rest of the season. He has three years and $36 million left after this year, but with virtually no guarantee and no dead salary cap money, so the Niners can always move on if they need to.

▪ The trade represents a reunion for the Shanahan and McCaffrey families. Mike Shanahan was Ed McCaffrey’s coach for nine seasons in Denver (1995-2003), and now their sons have a coach-player relationship. Kyle Shanahan is 16 years older than Christian McCaffrey, so perhaps he was his baby sitter.

▪ The 1-5 Panthers are in the midst of “don’t call it tanking” mode, after firing coach Matt Rhule and trading McCaffrey and receiver Robbie Anderson. They will take an $8 million dead salary cap hit this year and $18.35 million next year, but the Panthers are hoarding draft picks and starting over, with an emphasis on finally finding a quarterback next offseason. They got a nice return from the Niners, and have the early lead for the No. 1 pick. The Panthers’ phones should be busy the next two weeks with teams asking about receiver D.J. Moore and pass rusher Brian Burns.

ETC.

Teams battle at highest level

Things were often testy at this week’s NFL owners meetings.Adam Hunger/Associated Press

The NFL owners meetings in New York City on Tuesday got a bit heated. Most notable was Colts owner Jim Irsay putting Dan Snyder on notice and pressuring the other 30 owners to remove Snyder from their fraternity.

There also was Jerry Jones using colorful language toward Robert Kraft, per ESPN, as the two squabbled over the structure of a potential contract extension for Roger Goodell. Jones said Friday on 105.3 The Fan, “It’s probably accurate that I did express myself in probably a way that’s not in good taste.”

There was a squabble about the $790 million settlement fee owed to the city of St. Louis for the Rams’ relocation to Los Angeles. Stan Kroenke ultimately caved on Tuesday, agreeing to pay about $600 million, while the other owners contributed about $7 million each — a small price to pay for the Rams’ relocation, which added billions to the NFL’s bottom line.

But according to Sports Business Journal, Kroenke only owes about $320 million up front, can pay the rest over the next five years, and can make some of that money back by keeping ticket revenues that otherwise would go to the league’s central fund.

As Jaguars owner Shad Khan told SBJ, “It’s an ideal solution — nobody likes it.”

And there’s a fascinating battle playing out between Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and 49ers owner Jed York in Santa Clara, Calif. York has funded a series of attack ads aimed at Ross for supporting Santa Clara mayor Lisa Gillmor, whom York is trying to defeat in this year’s election. Ross has Gillmor’s support for a massive commercial development across the way from Levi’s Stadium.

“You don’t like to see it,” one owner said of the squabble to the San Francisco Chronicle.

A rough patch

No one agreed with recent roughing the passer calls on Grady Jarrett or Chris Jones, but the NFL isn’t going to ease up on calling the penalty this season.

Falcons president Rich McKay said roughing the passer penalties are down “40 to 45 percent” from last year, hence no need to change the way it is being called.

“We’re never going to bat 1.000 on all officiating,” McKay said. “The one thing we should look at is total numbers are down, and pretty significantly down this year. I think it’s a credit to the players. They have modified their play.”

Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL wants to protect its quarterbacks.

“We’re not backing off of protecting players that are in a defenseless position or in an exposed position that could lead to injury, and we’ll take those techniques out of the game,” he said.

Picked off

J.C. Jackson always seemed to follow in Malcolm Butler’s footsteps. He was an undrafted free agent, like Butler. He joined the Patriots in 2018, the year Butler left. He came from relative nowhere to become one of the Patriots’ most consistent and opportunistic players.

And just like Butler, Jackson is struggling after cashing in with a new team. Butler had a tough time living up to the hype in his first season with the Titans in 2018, and Jackson is struggling after signing a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Chargers. He missed the first two games of the season after ankle surgery, and has since allowed a 155.3 passer rating in coverage, per Pro Football Focus. He got benched last week after giving up two long passes in the first half against Denver.

“I feel defeated,” Jackson said, via NFL Media. “I’m not really playing to my full potential. It’s kind of upsetting.”

Chargers coach Brandon Staley said Jackson will be back in his starting role Sunday against the Seahawks.

“We’re going to make sure that we stay patient with him,” Staley said.

Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz (11) looks on during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

Boy, isn’t this just the worst luck? The Commanders said last week that Carson Wentz will be out for a while with a finger injury, turning the team over to Taylor Heinicke for the foreseeable future. The Commanders say the timetable is 4-6 weeks, but realistically it’s “however long it will take to ensure that he doesn’t play in 70 percent of the snaps.” The Commanders are floundering at 2-4, Wentz is playing horribly, and the draft pick they owe the Colts this year turns from a third-rounder to a second-rounder if Wentz plays at least 70 percent of snaps . . . The 49ers had to grin and bear it this past week, forced to watch film of their Super Bowl LIV loss to the Chiefs as they prepare for Sunday’s rematch in Santa Clara. “I hadn’t watched it for a while until these last two days,” Kyle Shanahan said. “But yeah, I don’t like watching it.” . . . Sunday is the NFL’s “National Tight End Day,” and Chiefs-49ers features two of the best. Travis Kelce is the all-time leading tight end in receiving yards per game (71.1), followed by George Kittle (65.8), Rob Gronkowski (64.9), Kellen Winslow (61.8), and Mark Andrews (57.7) . . . Tom Brady and the Buccaneers aren’t getting much out of their veteran additions. Receiver Julio Jones has just four catches for 76 yards in two games. Tight end Kyle Rudolph has one catch in two games. Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks has played just two games. And safety Logan Ryan played four games and just went on injured reserve. At least guard Shaq Mason is playing well . . . Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles was asked if he goes to Bruce Arians for ideas to help jump-start the offense. “Well, this is my team, not Bruce’s team,” Bowles said. “You don’t jump-start by asking a former coach what to do.” . . . Raiders receiver Davante Adams may end up being lucky that Kansas City police charged him with misdemeanor assault for shoving a cameraman as he walked to the locker room. The NFL won’t consider a suspension until the legal process plays out, meaning it’s possible any suspension might not occur until next season . . . . Saints QB Andy Dalton threw two pick-sixes in one quarter in Thursday night’s loss to the Cardinals. A review of play-by-play data at Pro Football Reference shows the last QBs to do that were Matt Ryan (2021 vs. Buccaneers), Ryan Fitzpatrick (2019 vs. Patriots), and Josh Rosen (2018 vs. Broncos) . . . . The most unfortunate injury of the season happened Monday night when Broncos linebacker Aaron Patrick tore his left ACL while slipping on a rubber TV mat on the sideline of SoFi Stadium. Patrick’s agent, Lamont Smith, told NFL Media that he was “very disturbed” by the incident. It was reminiscent of the knee injury suffered in 2015 by Reggie Bush, who slipped on the concrete surrounding the field in St. Louis. Bush won $12.5 million from the Rams in a lawsuit.


Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com.



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