By now you’ve heard me say (or write) over and over about the importance of the yard per pass statistic on offense. For those that haven’t, teams with a higer yard per pass number than their opponent win 81.1% of the time so far in 2013.

This can be thought of as an offensive statistic or a defensive statsitic: The better your team is at defending the pass (holding the opponent to a lower yard per pass number) the better chance you have at winning.

But of course, thats the old chicken or the egg argument: Is the losers yard per pass stat bad because they lost (i.e. throwing desperation passes in obvious pass situations) or did they lose because they couldn’t pass efficiently (just not very good at throwing and catching)?

My guess is a little of both, though I can’t prove it mathmatically and I’m not claiming causation.

What I can prove using the Pearson Correlation Coefficient is that yards per pass given up correlates highly to points given up on defense. Higher than rushing yards, yards per rush or passing yards.

The stats below are for weeks 1-4 for 2013 for games between FBS teams only and shows the correlation between points given up to the various categories listed. The closer the number to 1 the higher the correlation.

Yards per rush and rush yards correlate highly to points given up, but yards per pass is the most important of the 5 statistics analyzed.

One would expect the negative correlation on turnovers – generally the more turnovers a defense gains the less points they give up, but I’m surprised at how low it is. This analysis indicates that for the measures analyzed turnovers is the least important factor in points given up.