Sporting Charts tracked 68 quarterbacks in terms of “air yards,” meaning the number of yards their passes actually traveled through the air past the line of scrimmage (versus how many yards their passes traveled in the receivers’ hands after the ball was caught). On average, about 55% of all passing yards gained were categorized as air yards.
The Bears QBs showed a pretty wide range. Coming in at 11th, Matt Barkley saw 65.1% of his passing yards come through the air instead of after the catch. This might be because so few of his receivers caught the ball that actually running with the brown thing would have been too much.
Possibly-retiring Cutler was 27th, with 57.8%.
Brian Hoyer was 49th, with 49.8% of his passing yards coming through the air. For those tempted to criticize Hoyer, however, it’s worth noting that only 50.7% of Tom Brady’s passing yards were through the air, and the Manning brother still playing professional football saw a similar 49.6% of his passing yards come before the catch.
It’s a little more interesting to talk about air yards per attempt. After all, a guy like Brady (who throws a receiver open) will get a lot of yards of both kinds, and this might skew the numbers.
Matt Barkley was tied with Kirk Cousins for 6th in the league in air yards per attempt (4.85), while Jay Cutler tied Russell Wilson for 13th at 4.47 air yards per attempt. Hoyer? Tied at 41st, with Landry Jones, just barely ahead of Blaine Gabbert.