Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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The 2015 Saints were the worst defense we have ever measured, and Brandon Browner set a single-season record for penalties, so it's no surprise to see him at the bottom of the coverage tables.

08 May 2015

2014 Incomplete Pass Breakdown: Receivers

by Scott Kacsmar

In the first part of our look at incomplete passes in the 2014 season we focused only on passers. By shifting the focus to the players on the other end of those passes, we get into some murky territory on whether or not the receiver should even be credited with a target given the type of pass. One category that never gets a target is the spike, but we have already removed those, leaving 17,807 passes without penalties in the regular season. Only 181 of those were listed with no intended target, and 146 of those were intentional throwaways. That means 99.0 percent of all passes had a target; realistically, that number should probably be a tad lower.

For instance, on the 31 plays marked as intentional grounding last season, only four had a target. In theory, if the play is truly grounding, then there should be no target, because if there was a clear target on a play, that means the quarterback got the ball close enough to a receiver to avoid a penalty. Passes that are thrown away or batted down at the line are often listed with a target, which is really unfair to the receiver given he had no realistic opportunity to catch the ball on those plays.

I can vividly remember my first interest in wanting to break down incompletions for receivers, but not having the means to do the charting required to make the numbers matter. It was the 2006 season, and I may or may not have had Miami wide receiver Chris Chambers on my fantasy team. His season lives in infamy after he accumulated -297 DYAR, the worst mark in Football Outsiders' database back to 1989. Chambers only caught 39 percent of his 153 targets, which came from the trio of post-ACL Daunte Culpepper (41.0 percent completion rate), a vanquished Joey Harrington (39.6 percent) and nobody Cleo Lemon (3-of-13 on targets to Chambers). As you can see, none of the quarterbacks were able to hit Chambers, a 27-year-old Pro Bowl No. 1 receiver in 2005, with any consistency. He finished with just 677 receiving yards in 16 starts.

Meanwhile, there was this little white guy named Wes Welker who caught 67 percent of his passes in Miami that year. A forgotten Marty Booker caught 61 percent and ranked 20th in DVOA. This led to furious Internet message board arguments, because how dare anyone suggest these players were better than Chambers despite the massive difference in efficiency in "the same offense" with the same lousy quarterbacks. Except it really wasn't the same offense when you consider what Chambers was asked to do versus the other receivers.

I have to thank the 2006 Dolphins for teaching me about the value of receiver roles and the impact of quarterback play on a receiver's stats. Welker caught a high percentage of passes because he just ran a lot of short, easy routes from the slot that even Harrington could hit at a solid rate. Chambers was frequently running deep routes against the opponent's best cornerback. Back when you could actually look up great stats on a player's Sports Illustrated page, they had a breakdown of targets as overthrown, underthrown, thrown wide, etc. That year I summed up all the targets for which Chambers could not be blamed and found that nearly 50 percent of his targets were completely uncatchable. No wonder he only caught 39 percent overall.

There is no easy number fix to solve the relationship between a quarterback and his receiver. One feeds off the other, but a lot of the evidence points to the quarterback driving more of the relationship. They call it a passing league and not a catching league for a reason. So let's keep the quarterback numbers in mind from yesterday when we look at these receivers.

Again, we thank our charters and ESPN Stats & Information for helping put together this year's game charting project. For the purposes of this study we will be combining as many incompletion categories as possible. The data presented here may differ slightly from what we publish in the future in places like Football Outsiders Almanac 2015.

To save space, there are a few categories that won't be included in tables here.

Hail Mary: Unless it's Aaron Bailey in the 1995 AFC Championship Game, it is pretty hard to rag on a receiver for not coming down with a Hail Mary. It's usually hard to even pick out the intended receiver when there is usually a mass of humanity in the end zone. We charted 14 such incompletions, and no one was listed as the target on multiple plays.

Release slipped: These are rare and awkward plays. Sometimes the quarterback just loses his grip on the ball and it comes out funny. These plays fall somewhere visually between accidental spike and intentional grounding. There were only three of them last season with Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson the guilty parties. For some reason, Roethlisberger's play did not include a target, while Roddy White and Doug Baldwin were each given one for their quarterback's error. Watch this Atlanta play against Green Bay and tell me if you think White deserves a target. This is the problem we run into each season with some plays.

(If you're having trouble finding White, which is really the point, he's lined up wide right and runs a route to the middle.)

Tipped by teammate: Another rare play, this is when a pass hits a teammate who was not the intended receiver. This could be a quarterback hitting his lineman with a pass on accident. This only happened seven times last year, to seven different players. You definitely cannot fault the target here.

Using tables with the same 36 quarterbacks was easy, but we have a lot more receivers to cover and three positions to separate. I used 50 targets as a minimum qualifier, ranking 86 wide receivers, 27 tight ends and 22 running backs. We'll start with the big-picture stat.

Uncatchable Targets

A pass is considered uncatchable for a receiver if it falls into one of the following categories: batted at the line, quarterback hit in motion, overthrown, quarterback release slipped, thrown away, tipped by teammate or underthrown.

2014 WR: Uncatchable Rate (Min. 50 Targets)
Rk Receiver Targets Uncatchable Pct. Rk Receiver Targets Uncatchable Pct.
1 Justin Hunter 67 27 40.3% 44 Reggie Wayne 116 28 24.1%
2 Taylor Gabriel 72 28 38.9% 45 Keenan Allen 122 29 23.8%
3 Jeremy Kerley 75 29 38.7% 46 Nate Washington 72 17 23.6%
4 Cecil Shorts 110 41 37.3% 47 Steve Smith 134 31 23.1%
5 Sammy Watkins 128 44 34.4% 48 Jerricho Cotchery 78 18 23.1%
6 Cordarrelle Patterson 67 23 34.3% 49 Harry Douglas 74 17 23.0%
7 Marqise Lee 68 23 33.8% 50 Anquan Boldin 131 30 22.9%
8 Jermaine Kearse 69 23 33.3% 51 Pierre Garcon 105 24 22.9%
9 Brandon Gibson 51 17 33.3% 52 Davante Adams 66 15 22.7%
10 Andre Roberts 73 24 32.9% 53 Brandon Marshall 106 24 22.6%
11 DeSean Jackson 95 31 32.6% 54 Golden Tate 144 32 22.2%
12 Kendall Wright 93 30 32.3% 55 DeAndre Hopkins 127 28 22.0%
13 Andrew Hawkins 112 36 32.1% 56 Eddie Royal 91 20 22.0%
14 Vincent Jackson 142 44 31.0% 57 Terrance Williams 65 14 21.5%
15 Jason Avant 62 19 30.6% 58 James Jones 112 24 21.4%
16 Mike Wallace 115 35 30.4% 59 Doug Baldwin 98 21 21.4%
17 Michael Floyd 99 30 30.3% 60 Chris Hogan 61 13 21.3%
18 A.J. Green 116 35 30.2% 61 Dwayne Bowe 95 20 21.1%
19 Rueben Randle 127 38 29.9% 62 Eric Decker 115 24 20.9%
20 Mike Evans 123 36 29.3% 63 T.Y. Hilton 131 27 20.6%
21 John Brown 103 30 29.1% 64 Randall Cobb 127 26 20.5%
22 Markus Wheaton 86 25 29.1% 65 Mohammed Sanu 98 20 20.4%
Rk Receiver Targets Uncatchable Pct. Rk Receiver Targets Uncatchable Pct.
23 Charles Johnson 59 17 28.8% 66 Devin Hester 59 12 20.3%
24 Malcom Floyd 92 26 28.3% 67 Stevie Johnson 50 10 20.0%
25 Robert Woods 104 29 27.9% 68 Emmanuel Sanders 141 28 19.9%
26 Allen Hurns 97 27 27.8% 69 Louis Murphy 56 11 19.6%
27 Kelvin Benjamin 145 40 27.6% 70 Preston Parker 56 11 19.6%
28 Kenny Britt 84 23 27.4% 71 Julian Edelman 134 26 19.4%
29 Jeremy Maclin 143 39 27.3% 72 Jarius Wright 62 12 19.4%
30 Torrey Smith 92 25 27.2% 73 Brian Hartline 63 12 19.0%
31 Andre Johnson 147 39 26.5% 74 Julio Jones 163 31 19.0%
32 Andre Holmes 98 26 26.5% 75 Dez Bryant 137 25 18.2%
33 Hakeem Nicks 68 18 26.5% 76 Miles Austin 72 13 18.1%
34 Riley Cooper 95 25 26.3% 77 Jordy Nelson 151 27 17.9%
35 Alshon Jeffery 145 38 26.2% 78 Antonio Brown 181 32 17.7%
36 Demaryius Thomas 184 48 26.1% 79 Jordan Matthews 103 18 17.5%
37 Greg Jennings 92 24 26.1% 80 Roddy White 125 21 16.8%
38 Larry Fitzgerald 104 27 26.0% 81 Odell Beckham 130 21 16.2%
39 Allen Robinson 81 21 25.9% 82 Jarvis Landry 112 17 15.2%
40 Calvin Johnson 128 33 25.8% 83 Marques Colston 99 13 13.1%
41 Percy Harvin 78 20 25.6% 84 Kenny Stills 84 11 13.1%
42 Michael Crabtree 107 27 25.2% 85 Brandin Cooks 69 9 13.0%
43 Brandon LaFell 119 30 25.2% 86 Wes Welker 64 6 9.4%

If Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright are truly not excited by Marcus Mariota, perhaps they should reconsider -- they posted two of the highest 12 uncatchable rates in 2014. For wide receivers, the correlation between uncatchable rate and DVOA was -0.48, which makes plenty of sense. Hard to be an effective receiver when the quarterback just can't get you the ball. These are imperfect stats, because sometimes a pass might be overthrown because the receiver wasn't fast enough to get to a spot. That's why I like to look at teammates here to pick up on where the quarterback is the main issue, or where roles are well defined.

Brian Hoyer had the highest Bad Pass rate (overthrows plus underthrows), and we can see that reflected here in uncatchable rate, with Taylor Gabriel ranking second and Andrew Hawkins ranking third among players with at least 100 targets. Josh Gordon's not in the table, but 38.3 percent of his 47 targets were uncatchable last year. Even with a great receiver, the ball still has to be somewhat accurate. Buffalo thought Sammy Watkins could make EJ Manuel great, but Watkins finished with the second-highest uncatchable rate with at least 100 targets. Robert Woods was 10th by that measure.

Again, how accurate was Drew Brees last year? Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, and Brandin Cooks had three of the four lowest uncatchable rates, which is incredible given they play different roles in Sean Payton's offense. The proficiency of Tony Romo-to-Dez Bryant (18.2 percent uncatchable), Ben Roethlisberger-to-Antonio Brown (17.7 percent uncatchable), and Aaron Rodgers-to-Jordy Nelson (17.9 percent) also stand out given the role those receivers play in their offenses.

Odell Beckham Jr. continutes to stand out after his historic rookie performance. He had the sixth-lowest uncatchable rate, and Eli Manning is hardly known for his accuracy. Rueben Randle had a much higher uncatchable rate, though his average depth of target was 12.0 yards. That's not to say Beckham just dominated on short throws; his average depth of target was 11.5 yards. We'll get to his catch radius eventually, but the catch of the year against Dallas just showed that Beckham can make the seemingly uncatchable catchable.

The only player with a lower uncatchable rate on 100-plus targets than Beckham was his LSU teammate Jarvis Landry, but they are two very different players. We also may have had another Chambers-Welker situation in Miami with Landry and Mike Wallace last year. Wallace had the fifth-highest uncatchable rate (100-plus targets), but his average target was 13.0 yards downfield. Landry's average target was just 5.5 yards past the line of scrimmage, which explains why he only averaged 9.0 yards per catch. They play the same position, but their roles are vastly different and that should be taken into consideration.

2014 TE: Uncatchable Rate (Min. 50 Targets)
Rk Receiver Targets Uncatchable Pct.
1 Jared Cook 99 33 33.3%
2 Vernon Davis 51 15 29.4%
3 Owen Daniels 79 21 26.6%
4 Dwayne Allen 50 13 26.0%
5 Delanie Walker 106 27 25.5%
6 Coby Fleener 92 23 25.0%
7 Zach Ertz 89 22 24.7%
8 Rob Gronkowski 131 32 24.4%
9 Mychal Rivera 99 24 24.2%
10 John Carlson 55 13 23.6%
11 Brent Celek 51 12 23.5%
12 Greg Olsen 123 28 22.8%
13 Jason Witten 90 20 22.2%
14 Levine Toilolo 53 11 20.8%
15 Larry Donnell 92 19 20.7%
16 Charles Clay 84 17 20.2%
17 Julius Thomas 62 12 19.4%
18 Jimmy Graham 124 23 18.5%
19 Antonio Gates 98 17 17.3%
20 Martellus Bennett 128 22 17.2%
21 Scott Chandler 71 12 16.9%
22 Heath Miller 91 14 15.4%
23 Travis Kelce 87 13 14.9%
24 Jordan Reed 65 9 13.8%
25 Niles Paul 52 7 13.5%
26 Jermaine Gresham 79 10 12.7%
27 Jace Amaro 53 5 9.4%

Switching to tight ends, Jared Cook hasn't been the free-agent splash the Rams had hoped for, but his quarterback play has been less than stellar. Speaking of quarterback play, do not be surprised if Owen Daniels (third) and Julius Thomas (17th) switch places here next year on the uncatchable list when you consider the Peyton Manning factor. It's interesting to see Jets rookie Jace Amaro with the lowest uncatchable rate, given that Jeremy Kerley was the third-highest wideout. Throwing to a tight end is often not much different from throwing to a slot receiver. We also see both Washington tight ends in the bottom four despite playing with three quarterbacks.

If there's anything troubling here, it may be that Andrew Luck's two tight ends are both in the top six. 2015 is a contract year for both Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen (and T.Y. Hilton), so there will be some decisions to be made there.

2014 RB: Uncatchable Rate (Min. 50 Targets)
Rk Receiver Targets Uncatchable Pct.
1 Joique Bell 53 15 28.3%
2 Theo Riddick 50 13 26.0%
3 Darren McFadden 56 14 25.0%
4 Justin Forsett 59 14 23.7%
5 Jamaal Charles 59 13 22.0%
6 Travaris Cadet 51 11 21.6%
7 Shane Vereen 77 16 20.8%
8 Andre Ellington 64 13 20.3%
9 Fred Jackson 90 18 20.0%
10 Eddie Lacy 55 11 20.0%
11 Reggie Bush 56 11 19.6%
12 Darren Sproles 62 12 19.4%
13 Matt Asiata 63 12 19.0%
14 Arian Foster 59 11 18.6%
15 Marcel Reece 59 9 15.3%
16 Giovani Bernard 59 9 15.3%
17 Matt Forte 130 19 14.6%
18 Pierre Thomas 55 8 14.5%
19 Lamar Miller 52 7 13.5%
20 Benny Cunningham 53 7 13.2%
21 Le'Veon Bell 105 13 12.4%
22 DeMarco Murray 64 4 6.3%

Two Detroit running backs on top, but we'll find a reason for that later. Shane Vereen ranks seventh, but the Patriots have added Travaris Cadet from New Orleans as a potential replacement for that receiving back role this year. The Saints also lost Pierre Thomas, who had the fifth-lowest uncatchable rate.

Le'Veon Bell and DeMarco Murray were the two first-team All-Pro running backs in 2014, and they happened to have the two lowest rates of uncatchable passes. Let's see if Darren McFadden (third-highest rate) can benefit from Romo and "the greatest offensive line ever" in Dallas this year on some dumpoffs and screens.

Overthrows & Underthrows

Everything tabulated here for overthrown and underthrown passes relates only to incompletions. Yes, we acknowledge an overthrown or underthrown pass can still be caught, but it's rare.

2014 WR: Overthrown Rate (Min. 50 Targets) 2014 WR: Underthrown Rate (Min. 50 Targets)
Rk Receiver Targets Overthrows Pct. Rk Receiver Targets Underthrows Pct.
1 Justin Hunter 67 19 28.4% 1 DeSean Jackson 95 12 12.6%
2 Taylor Gabriel 72 19 26.4% 2 Andre Roberts 73 9 12.3%
3 Charles Johnson 59 14 23.7% 3 John Brown 103 12 11.7%
4 Brandon Gibson 51 12 23.5% 4 Michael Floyd 99 11 11.1%
5 Sammy Watkins 128 28 21.9% 5 Brandon LaFell 119 13 10.9%
6 Kenny Britt 84 18 21.4% 6 Davante Adams 66 7 10.6%
7 Hakeem Nicks 68 14 20.6% 7 Riley Cooper 95 10 10.5%
8 Marqise Lee 68 14 20.6% 8 Justin Hunter 67 7 10.4%
9 Vincent Jackson 142 29 20.4% 9 Sammy Watkins 128 13 10.2%
10 Jermaine Kearse 69 14 20.3% 10 Torrey Smith 92 9 9.8%
11 Kelvin Benjamin 145 29 20.0% 11 Cecil Shorts 110 10 9.1%
12 Markus Wheaton 86 17 19.8% 12 Andrew Hawkins 112 10 8.9%
13 Rueben Randle 127 25 19.7% 13 Robert Woods 104 9 8.7%
14 Kendall Wright 93 18 19.4% 14 Brandon Marshall 106 9 8.5%
15 Jason Avant 62 12 19.4% 15 Miles Austin 72 6 8.3%
16 Jeremy Maclin 143 27 18.9% 16 Taylor Gabriel 72 6 8.3%
17 Michael Crabtree 107 20 18.7% 17 Jeremy Kerley 75 6 8.0%
18 Cecil Shorts 110 20 18.2% 18 Jordy Nelson 151 12 7.9%
19 A.J. Green 116 21 18.1% 19 DeAndre Hopkins 127 10 7.9%
20 Jerricho Cotchery 78 14 17.9% 20 Rueben Randle 127 10 7.9%
21 Malcom Floyd 92 16 17.4% 21 Calvin Johnson 128 10 7.8%
Rk Receiver Targets Overthrows Pct. Rk Receiver Targets Underthrows Pct.
22 Andre Holmes 98 17 17.3% 22 A.J. Green 116 9 7.8%
23 Mohammed Sanu 98 17 17.3% 23 Vincent Jackson 142 11 7.7%
24 Larry Fitzgerald 104 18 17.3% 24 Percy Harvin 78 6 7.7%
25 Alshon Jeffery 145 25 17.2% 25 Pierre Garcon 105 8 7.6%
26 Michael Floyd 99 17 17.2% 26 Andre Johnson 147 11 7.5%
27 Devin Hester 59 10 16.9% 27 Allen Robinson 81 6 7.4%
28 Demaryius Thomas 184 31 16.8% 28 Keenan Allen 122 9 7.4%
29 Cordarrelle Patterson 67 11 16.4% 29 Dwayne Bowe 95 7 7.4%
30 Greg Jennings 92 15 16.3% 30 Mike Evans 123 9 7.3%
31 Mike Evans 123 20 16.3% 31 James Jones 112 8 7.1%
32 Andrew Hawkins 112 18 16.1% 32 Doug Baldwin 98 7 7.1%
33 Mike Wallace 115 18 15.7% 33 Preston Parker 56 4 7.1%
34 Calvin Johnson 128 20 15.6% 34 Jeremy Maclin 143 10 7.0%
35 Allen Hurns 97 15 15.5% 35 Mike Wallace 115 8 7.0%
36 Robert Woods 104 16 15.4% 36 Nate Washington 72 5 6.9%
37 Percy Harvin 78 12 15.4% 37 Harry Douglas 74 5 6.8%
38 Nate Washington 72 11 15.3% 38 Chris Hogan 61 4 6.6%
39 Torrey Smith 92 14 15.2% 39 Demaryius Thomas 184 12 6.5%
40 Andre Johnson 147 22 15.0% 40 Kendall Wright 93 6 6.5%
41 Harry Douglas 74 11 14.9% 41 Jason Avant 62 4 6.5%
42 Jeremy Kerley 75 11 14.7% 42 Roddy White 125 8 6.4%
Rk Receiver Targets Overthrows Pct. Rk Receiver Targets Underthrows Pct.
43 Reggie Wayne 116 17 14.7% 43 Randall Cobb 127 8 6.3%
44 Jarius Wright 62 9 14.5% 44 Allen Hurns 97 6 6.2%
45 Steve Smith 134 19 14.2% 45 Terrance Williams 65 4 6.2%
46 Stevie Johnson 50 7 14.0% 46 Antonio Brown 181 11 6.1%
47 Golden Tate 144 20 13.9% 47 Jordan Matthews 103 6 5.8%
48 Andre Roberts 73 10 13.7% 48 Markus Wheaton 86 5 5.8%
49 Allen Robinson 81 11 13.6% 49 Larry Fitzgerald 104 6 5.8%
50 Emmanuel Sanders 141 19 13.5% 50 Emmanuel Sanders 141 8 5.7%
51 Eddie Royal 91 12 13.2% 51 Kelvin Benjamin 145 8 5.5%
52 Dez Bryant 137 18 13.1% 52 Greg Jennings 92 5 5.4%
53 Eric Decker 115 15 13.0% 53 Louis Murphy 56 3 5.4%
54 Anquan Boldin 131 17 13.0% 54 Steve Smith 134 7 5.2%
55 Brian Hartline 63 8 12.7% 55 Brian Hartline 63 3 4.8%
56 Riley Cooper 95 12 12.6% 56 Hakeem Nicks 68 3 4.4%
57 DeSean Jackson 95 12 12.6% 57 Marqise Lee 68 3 4.4%
58 John Brown 103 13 12.6% 58 Eddie Royal 91 4 4.4%
59 Randall Cobb 127 16 12.6% 59 Malcom Floyd 92 4 4.3%
60 Brandon Marshall 106 13 12.3% 60 Jermaine Kearse 69 3 4.3%
61 Brandon LaFell 119 14 11.8% 61 Reggie Wayne 116 5 4.3%
62 Odell Beckham 130 14 10.8% 62 Andre Holmes 98 4 4.1%
63 Terrance Williams 65 7 10.8% 63 Stevie Johnson 50 2 4.0%
Rk Receiver Targets Overthrows Pct. Rk Receiver Targets Underthrows Pct.
64 Louis Murphy 56 6 10.7% 64 Odell Beckham 130 5 3.8%
65 Preston Parker 56 6 10.7% 65 Anquan Boldin 131 5 3.8%
66 Pierre Garcon 105 11 10.5% 66 Michael Crabtree 107 4 3.7%
67 Julio Jones 163 17 10.4% 67 Julio Jones 163 6 3.7%
68 DeAndre Hopkins 127 13 10.2% 68 Dez Bryant 137 5 3.6%
69 T.Y. Hilton 131 13 9.9% 69 Golden Tate 144 5 3.5%
70 Chris Hogan 61 6 9.8% 70 Alshon Jeffery 145 5 3.4%
71 James Jones 112 11 9.8% 71 Charles Johnson 59 2 3.4%
72 Jordan Matthews 103 10 9.7% 72 Devin Hester 59 2 3.4%
73 Keenan Allen 122 11 9.0% 73 Wes Welker 64 2 3.1%
74 Julian Edelman 134 12 9.0% 74 Mohammed Sanu 98 3 3.1%
75 Antonio Brown 181 16 8.8% 75 T.Y. Hilton 131 4 3.1%
76 Dwayne Bowe 95 8 8.4% 76 Julian Edelman 134 4 3.0%
77 Kenny Stills 84 7 8.3% 77 Cordarrelle Patterson 67 2 3.0%
78 Doug Baldwin 98 8 8.2% 78 Brandin Cooks 69 2 2.9%
79 Marques Colston 99 8 8.1% 79 Eric Decker 115 3 2.6%
80 Roddy White 125 10 8.0% 80 Jerricho Cotchery 78 2 2.6%
81 Jordy Nelson 151 12 7.9% 81 Kenny Britt 84 2 2.4%
82 Jarvis Landry 112 8 7.1% 82 Marques Colston 99 2 2.0%
83 Wes Welker 64 4 6.3% 83 Brandon Gibson 51 1 2.0%
84 Davante Adams 66 4 6.1% 84 Jarius Wright 62 1 1.6%
85 Miles Austin 72 3 4.2% 85 Jarvis Landry 112 1 0.9%
86 Brandin Cooks 69 2 2.9% 86 Kenny Stills 84 0 0.0%

Sammy Watkins relied heavily on YAC in college, but Buffalo used him, often unsuccessfully, as a deep threat (average target: 13.3 yards). Watkins and Justin Hunter are the only wideouts to rank in the top 10 in both overthrow and underthrow rates. Pairs of teammates from Washington and Arizona lead the underthrown table, though Pierre Garcon and Larry Fitzgerald are not involved.

The two receivers with the lowest underthrown rate are 2015 teammates: Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills. As a testament to Brees' accuracy, he never underthrew the deep threat Stills last year. Mike Wallace was underthrown eight times by Ryan Tannehill, so Stills may have to adjust to lesser throws in the way Wallace never really did going from Pittsburgh to Miami. I'd also bet Wallace will see his underthrows go down, but overthrows (18 last year) go up with Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota. You can see Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings had 26 overthrows on just 159 targets. In Kansas City, Jeremy Maclin will likely see the opposite effect with Alex Smith: overthrows down, underthrows up.

2014 TE: Overthrown Rate (Min. 50 Targets) 2014 TE: Underthrown Rate (Min. 50 Targets)
Rk Receiver Targets Overthrows Pct. Rk Receiver Targets Underthrows Pct.
1 Dwayne Allen 50 9 18.0% 1 Vernon Davis 51 6 11.8%
2 Zach Ertz 89 16 18.0% 2 Rob Gronkowski 131 14 10.7%
3 Jason Witten 90 16 17.8% 3 Jared Cook 99 9 9.1%
4 Jared Cook 99 16 16.2% 4 Owen Daniels 79 6 7.6%
5 Greg Olsen 123 19 15.4% 5 Scott Chandler 71 5 7.0%
6 Coby Fleener 92 14 15.2% 6 Martellus Bennett 128 9 7.0%
7 Owen Daniels 79 12 15.2% 7 Coby Fleener 92 6 6.5%
8 Delanie Walker 106 15 14.2% 8 Jordan Reed 65 4 6.2%
9 Brent Celek 51 7 13.7% 9 Dwayne Allen 50 3 6.0%
10 Charles Clay 84 11 13.1% 10 Niles Paul 52 3 5.8%
11 Mychal Rivera 99 12 12.1% 11 Jimmy Graham 124 7 5.6%
12 Vernon Davis 51 6 11.8% 12 John Carlson 55 3 5.5%
13 Levine Toilolo 53 6 11.3% 13 Larry Donnell 92 5 5.4%
14 Jimmy Graham 124 14 11.3% 14 Mychal Rivera 99 5 5.1%
15 Julius Thomas 62 7 11.3% 15 Greg Olsen 123 6 4.9%
16 Antonio Gates 98 11 11.2% 16 Zach Ertz 89 4 4.5%
17 Larry Donnell 92 10 10.9% 17 Antonio Gates 98 4 4.1%
18 Rob Gronkowski 131 14 10.7% 18 Delanie Walker 106 4 3.8%
19 John Carlson 55 5 9.1% 19 Levine Toilolo 53 2 3.8%
20 Heath Miller 91 8 8.8% 20 Jason Witten 90 3 3.3%
21 Jordan Reed 65 5 7.7% 21 Heath Miller 91 3 3.3%
22 Jermaine Gresham 79 6 7.6% 22 Julius Thomas 62 2 3.2%
23 Martellus Bennett 128 9 7.0% 23 Travis Kelce 87 2 2.3%
24 Travis Kelce 87 6 6.9% 24 Brent Celek 51 1 2.0%
25 Niles Paul 52 3 5.8% 25 Jace Amaro 53 1 1.9%
26 Jace Amaro 53 3 5.7% 26 Jermaine Gresham 79 1 1.3%
27 Scott Chandler 71 3 4.2% 27 Charles Clay 84 1 1.2%

Again, both Indianapolis tight ends rank in the top 10 for overthrows and underthrows alike. Fleener (average target: 10.6 yards) is more of a slot receiver and Allen (average target: 8.9 yards) is better for blocking and red zone.

Scott Chandler has joined the Patriots and has a good shot to rank at the bottom next year playing with Tom Brady. For underthrows, both current New England tight ends ranked in the top five last year.

Colin Kaepernick managed to miss Vernon Davis six times too far and six times too short in what was really a lost season for the tight end. Jared Cook ranked in the top four in both overthrow and underthrow rates. Nick Foles may not help with the overthrows based on the way he was missing open receivers in Philadelphia last year.

2014 RB: Overthrown Rate (Min. 50 Targets) 2014 RB: Underthrown Rate (Min. 50 Targets)
Rk Receiver Targets Overthrows Pct. Rk Receiver Targets Underthrows Pct.
1 Theo Riddick 50 6 12.0% 1 Joique Bell 53 6 11.3%
2 Justin Forsett 59 7 11.9% 2 Reggie Bush 56 6 10.7%
3 Darren Sproles 62 7 11.3% 3 Fred Jackson 90 8 8.9%
4 Matt Asiata 63 7 11.1% 4 Justin Forsett 59 5 8.5%
5 Andre Ellington 64 6 9.4% 5 Theo Riddick 50 4 8.0%
6 Shane Vereen 77 7 9.1% 6 Travaris Cadet 51 4 7.8%
7 Joique Bell 53 4 7.5% 7 Shane Vereen 77 5 6.5%
8 Arian Foster 59 4 6.8% 8 Andre Ellington 64 4 6.3%
9 Giovani Bernard 59 4 6.8% 9 Eddie Lacy 55 3 5.5%
10 Jamaal Charles 59 4 6.8% 10 Marcel Reece 59 3 5.1%
11 Lamar Miller 52 3 5.8% 11 Jamaal Charles 59 3 5.1%
12 Benny Cunningham 53 3 5.7% 12 Darren Sproles 62 3 4.8%
13 Fred Jackson 90 5 5.6% 13 Arian Foster 59 2 3.4%
14 Eddie Lacy 55 3 5.5% 14 Matt Asiata 63 2 3.2%
15 Le'Veon Bell 105 5 4.8% 15 Matt Forte 130 3 2.3%
16 Pierre Thomas 55 2 3.6% 16 Le'Veon Bell 105 2 1.9%
17 Darren McFadden 56 2 3.6% 17 Pierre Thomas 55 1 1.8%
18 Reggie Bush 56 2 3.6% 18 Darren McFadden 56 1 1.8%
19 Marcel Reece 59 2 3.4% 19 DeMarco Murray 64 0 0.0%
20 Matt Forte 130 3 2.3% 20 Giovani Bernard 59 0 0.0%
21 Travaris Cadet 51 1 2.0% 21 Benny Cunningham 53 0 0.0%
22 DeMarco Murray 64 1 1.6% 22 Lamar Miller 52 0 0.0%

Detroit pulled off a rare feat of having three running backs with at least 50 targets (Reggie Bush, Joique Bell, and Theo Riddick). All three ranked in the top five for underthrown rate, so Matthew Stafford had some real accuracy issues when checking down to his backs. Riddick also had the highest overthrown rate.

Justin Forsett also ranked in the top four in both tables, which helps explain why he was 55th in receiving DYAR.

A Bit of the Randomness

Instead of using tables, we'll just talk about some categories of incompletions that are not very frequent, but we chart them and need to share this data somewhere.

Batted Down at the Line: I understand that it's usually clear where the quarterback wants to throw on these plays, but I do not believe the receiver should get dinged for a pass that never gets through the trenches. Cecil Shorts had the highest uncatchable rate for any wide receiver with at least 100 targets and Blake Bortles had the highest rate of passes batted at the line, so it's no surprise to see Shorts tie for the league lead with seven batted passes as the intended target. Jeremy Kerley also had seven, but had the highest batted rate (9.3 percent) in the league. Cordarrelle Patterson (9.0 percent) was the only other wideout above 6.5 percent. Shorts (6.4 percent) ranked third in rate, followed by teammate Marqise Lee (5.9 percent), so this is really a Bortles/offensive line issue.

Ryan Tannehill only ranked 19th in batted pass rate, but his wide receivers paid dearly for it. Brandon Gibson (5.9 percent), Mike Wallace (5.2 percent) and Jarvis Landry (4.5 percent) all ranked in the top 10 for highest batted rate. Running back Lamar Miller (3.8 percent) had the third-highest batted rate for running backs. On the flip side were the Eagles. Wide receivers Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, and Jordan Matthews and tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek were never the targets of a batted pass on a combined 481 plays. Maybe Miami offensive coordinator Bill Lazor needs to practice preventing these plays the way the Eagles do under Chip Kelly.

Hit in Motion: This is when the quarterback is hit during his throwing motion. Any hit after the ball was released does not count. For the receiver, this basically means a bad pass is coming in your general vicinity. Tampa Bay struggled the most with this, so it's no surprise to see running back Bobby Rainey have a league-high four of these targets. OK, maybe it's a little of a surprise to see one of the unheralded backs lead the league, but Josh McCown and Mike Glennon took a whopping last year. Tampa Bay's rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins was one of four players with three HIM targets. The others played with Jay Cutler (Alshon Jeffery) and Andrew Luck (T.Y. Hilton), which makes sense, but the surprising one is Julian Edelman with Tom Brady. Only one of Edelman's targets came in the season's first month when the Patriots were trying to get on track.

Miscommunication: Obviously a very subjective call, we try to note when there was confusion between the quarterback and his receiver. Would you believe Jordy Nelson led all receivers with six miscommunication targets? Rookie Davante Adams had four, which is how MVP Aaron Rodgers finished with 10 such plays. The only other players with four miscommunication targets were Rob Gronkowski (another surprise), Markus Wheaton, and Miles Austin. The only surprise to Pittsburgh fans is that Wheaton did not have more given how often he looked like he was meeting Ben Roethlisberger for the first time on game day last year.

Out of Bounds: This is otherwise known as the "good job, good effort" incompletion. When a receiver catches a ball out of bounds, we add it to this category. DeAndre Hopkins and Mike Evans had four such plays and no other receiver had more than two. Hopkins and Evans also appear on our "receivers we really hope end up with a great quarterback someday" list. Can it be Jameis Winston? Vincent Jackson also had two catches out of bounds last year.

Receiver Tripped: Trips happen. Yesterday, we mentioned Joe Flacco had a league-high five of these incompletions last year while no other passer had more than two. The reason is Torrey Smith alone had three, including two in the same quarter in Houston (Week 16). Smith slipped, causing an interception, and later pulled up lame on a play that might need its own category ("Injured"). Sammy Watkins and Andre Johnson were the only other receivers with more than one trip.

Throwaways: I sort of understand attaching a target to throwaways, but not every time. Generally, it's acknowledging the quarterback did not find an open receiver, so he threw the ball away to a safe place. A lot of the time that's a throw well over the head of a receiver who wasn't open enough to throw to in the field of play. It's a defensive win, but it is also an uncatchable target.

Believe it or not, Giants running back Andre Williams had a league-high nine throwaway targets. That helps explain how a running back could only catch 18 of his 37 targets at a position that frequently exceeds 67 percent in catch rate. The other leaders in throwaways were Keenan Allen (seven), Matt Forte (seven), Anquan Boldin (six), and Darren McFadden (five).

Dropped and Defensed

Our last section looks at drops and passes defensed. Defensed is a very gray area for the blame game. Some passes are defensed because the receiver lost the one-on-one battle, but other times the quarterback throws a poor pass that should have been picked off. Drops are unofficial NFL stats because of the subjectivity. As a charter, I like to use the standard of getting two hands on the ball for a catch. If a guy makes a one-handed stab at a pass, that's not a drop. We came up with 791 drops for the 2014 season, but I'm sure you can hand this project over to any other group and they would find different results.

For the 2014 season, we asked charters to additionally mark plays as "Dropped/Defensed" when the receiver drops the ball specifically because of defender contact (think Sterling Moore vs. Lee Evans). The next tables include Dropped/Defensed plays in the sum of total drops, rather than in the sum of passes defensed. However, we should point out that other stat services do not count balls like this as dropped passes, and the totals for dropped passes in Football Outsiders Almanac 2015 will not count the "Dropped/Defensed" plays as dropped passes.

2014 WR: Defensed Rate (Min. 50 Targets) 2014 WR: Drop Rate (Min. 50 Targets)
Rk Receiver Targets Defensed Pct. Rk Receiver Targets Drops Pct.
1 Marques Colston 99 18 18.2% 1 Louis Murphy 56 6 10.7%
2 John Brown 103 18 17.5% 2 Julian Edelman 134 11 8.2%
3 Michael Floyd 99 17 17.2% 3 Mohammed Sanu 98 8 8.2%
4 Andre Holmes 98 15 15.3% 4 Marques Colston 99 8 8.1%
5 Justin Hunter 67 10 14.9% 5 Brandon Gibson 51 4 7.8%
6 Vincent Jackson 142 21 14.8% 6 Reggie Wayne 116 9 7.8%
7 Mohammed Sanu 98 14 14.3% 7 Davante Adams 66 5 7.6%
8 Louis Murphy 56 8 14.3% 8 Dwayne Bowe 95 7 7.4%
9 Calvin Johnson 128 18 14.1% 9 Marqise Lee 68 5 7.4%
10 Terrance Williams 65 9 13.8% 10 Taylor Gabriel 72 5 6.9%
11 Kelvin Benjamin 145 20 13.8% 11 Andre Roberts 73 5 6.8%
12 Roddy White 125 17 13.6% 12 Brian Hartline 63 4 6.3%
13 Charles Johnson 59 8 13.6% 13 Allen Hurns 97 6 6.2%
14 Cordarrelle Patterson 67 9 13.4% 14 Andre Holmes 98 6 6.1%
15 Julio Jones 163 21 12.9% 15 Anquan Boldin 131 8 6.1%
16 Brian Hartline 63 8 12.7% 16 Brandon Marshall 106 6 5.7%
17 Allen Robinson 81 10 12.3% 17 Nate Washington 72 4 5.6%
18 Reggie Wayne 116 14 12.1% 18 Miles Austin 72 4 5.6%
19 Devin Hester 59 7 11.9% 19 Kelvin Benjamin 145 8 5.5%
20 DeAndre Hopkins 127 15 11.8% 20 Rueben Randle 127 7 5.5%
21 Hakeem Nicks 68 8 11.8% 21 Torrey Smith 92 5 5.4%
Rk Receiver Targets Defensed Pct. Rk Receiver Targets Drops Pct.
22 Dez Bryant 137 16 11.7% 22 T.Y. Hilton 131 7 5.3%
23 Jordan Matthews 103 12 11.7% 23 Eric Decker 115 6 5.2%
24 Odell Beckham 130 15 11.5% 24 Jason Avant 62 3 4.8%
25 Jerricho Cotchery 78 9 11.5% 25 Jarius Wright 62 3 4.8%
26 Keenan Allen 122 14 11.5% 26 Robert Woods 104 5 4.8%
27 Allen Hurns 97 11 11.3% 27 Andre Johnson 147 7 4.8%
28 Brandon Marshall 106 12 11.3% 28 Kenny Stills 84 4 4.8%
29 Nate Washington 72 8 11.1% 29 Wes Welker 64 3 4.7%
30 Cecil Shorts 110 12 10.9% 30 Michael Crabtree 107 5 4.7%
31 Malcom Floyd 92 10 10.9% 31 Steve Smith 134 6 4.5%
32 Kenny Britt 84 9 10.7% 32 Hakeem Nicks 68 3 4.4%
33 Preston Parker 56 6 10.7% 33 Demaryius Thomas 184 8 4.3%
34 Larry Fitzgerald 104 11 10.6% 34 Mike Wallace 115 5 4.3%
35 Riley Cooper 95 10 10.5% 35 Greg Jennings 92 4 4.3%
36 Pierre Garcon 105 11 10.5% 36 Jermaine Kearse 69 3 4.3%
37 Steve Smith 134 14 10.4% 37 Mike Evans 123 5 4.1%
38 Sammy Watkins 128 13 10.2% 38 Roddy White 125 5 4.0%
39 T.Y. Hilton 131 13 9.9% 39 Jeremy Kerley 75 3 4.0%
40 Alshon Jeffery 145 14 9.7% 40 Jordan Matthews 103 4 3.9%
41 Andre Roberts 73 7 9.6% 41 Dez Bryant 137 5 3.6%
42 Andre Johnson 147 14 9.5% 42 Cecil Shorts 110 4 3.6%
Rk Receiver Targets Defensed Pct. Rk Receiver Targets Drops Pct.
43 Wes Welker 64 6 9.4% 43 Andrew Hawkins 112 4 3.6%
44 Jeremy Maclin 143 13 9.1% 44 Alshon Jeffery 145 5 3.4%
45 Demaryius Thomas 184 16 8.7% 45 Charles Johnson 59 2 3.4%
46 Eric Decker 115 10 8.7% 46 Devin Hester 59 2 3.4%
47 Torrey Smith 92 8 8.7% 47 Eddie Royal 91 3 3.3%
48 Brandin Cooks 69 6 8.7% 48 Chris Hogan 61 2 3.3%
49 Jordy Nelson 151 13 8.6% 49 Terrance Williams 65 2 3.1%
50 Chris Hogan 61 5 8.2% 50 Doug Baldwin 98 3 3.1%
51 Jason Avant 62 5 8.1% 51 Michael Floyd 99 3 3.0%
52 James Jones 112 9 8.0% 52 Justin Hunter 67 2 3.0%
53 Stevie Johnson 50 4 8.0% 53 Cordarrelle Patterson 67 2 3.0%
54 Brandon LaFell 119 9 7.6% 54 John Brown 103 3 2.9%
55 DeSean Jackson 95 7 7.4% 55 Antonio Brown 181 5 2.8%
56 Dwayne Bowe 95 7 7.4% 56 Jarvis Landry 112 3 2.7%
57 Jermaine Kearse 69 5 7.2% 57 Jordy Nelson 151 4 2.6%
58 Antonio Brown 181 13 7.2% 58 Jerricho Cotchery 78 2 2.6%
59 Andrew Hawkins 112 8 7.1% 59 Percy Harvin 78 2 2.6%
60 Golden Tate 144 10 6.9% 60 Brandon LaFell 119 3 2.5%
61 Harry Douglas 74 5 6.8% 61 Allen Robinson 81 2 2.5%
62 Jeremy Kerley 75 5 6.7% 62 Julio Jones 163 4 2.5%
63 Michael Crabtree 107 7 6.5% 63 Kenny Britt 84 2 2.4%
Rk Receiver Targets Defensed Pct. Rk Receiver Targets Drops Pct.
64 Rueben Randle 127 8 6.3% 64 Calvin Johnson 128 3 2.3%
65 Randall Cobb 127 8 6.3% 65 Riley Cooper 95 2 2.1%
66 Jarvis Landry 112 7 6.3% 66 Stevie Johnson 50 1 2.0%
67 Doug Baldwin 98 6 6.1% 67 Larry Fitzgerald 104 2 1.9%
68 Anquan Boldin 131 8 6.1% 68 James Jones 112 2 1.8%
69 A.J. Green 116 7 6.0% 69 Preston Parker 56 1 1.8%
70 Emmanuel Sanders 141 8 5.7% 70 A.J. Green 116 2 1.7%
71 Miles Austin 72 4 5.6% 71 DeAndre Hopkins 127 2 1.6%
72 Eddie Royal 91 5 5.5% 72 Randall Cobb 127 2 1.6%
73 Mike Wallace 115 6 5.2% 73 Sammy Watkins 128 2 1.6%
74 Percy Harvin 78 4 5.1% 74 Odell Beckham 130 2 1.5%
75 Mike Evans 123 6 4.9% 75 Brandin Cooks 69 1 1.4%
76 Robert Woods 104 5 4.8% 76 Emmanuel Sanders 141 2 1.4%
77 Kenny Stills 84 4 4.8% 77 Vincent Jackson 142 2 1.4%
78 Marqise Lee 68 3 4.4% 78 Jeremy Maclin 143 2 1.4%
79 Greg Jennings 92 4 4.3% 79 Golden Tate 144 2 1.4%
80 Taylor Gabriel 72 3 4.2% 80 Harry Douglas 74 1 1.4%
81 Kendall Wright 93 3 3.2% 81 Markus Wheaton 86 1 1.2%
82 Jarius Wright 62 2 3.2% 82 Malcom Floyd 92 1 1.1%
83 Davante Adams 66 2 3.0% 83 Kendall Wright 93 1 1.1%
84 Markus Wheaton 86 2 2.3% 84 DeSean Jackson 95 1 1.1%
85 Julian Edelman 134 3 2.2% 85 Keenan Allen 122 1 0.8%
86 Brandon Gibson 51 1 2.0% 86 Pierre Garcon 105 0 0.0%

Again, if we think of passes defensed as a "he put the ball in play" type of stat, then Drew Brees gave Marques Colston a ton of chances for catches last year. Most of the receivers high in defensed rate were not on good passing offenses, though there's really no obvious grouping of receiver types at the top. There are slot guys, slow deep threats, speedsters, possession receivers, etc. The same thing is true about roles at the bottom of the list, though Gibson is yet another high-catch-rate slot receiver to join the Patriots. But we see Taylor Gabriel with the seventh-lowest defensed rate despite previous tables showing he was second in overthrows and uncatchable passes.

Did you expect Julian Edelman to lead the league with 11 drops, or that Pierre Garcon would be the only wideout without one (minimum 50 targets)? That happened. Like Wes Welker before him, Edelman had some drop issues, which can happen in a high-volume attack when you get a lot of short passes and start thinking about turning upfield before securing the ball. Only one of Edelman's drops was Dropped/Defensed, which is what Kam Chancellor wishes he produced with his hit in the Super Bowl on third-and-14. Edelman hung onto that one to start New England's comeback.

Rueben Randle and Taylor Gabriel led the league with three Dropped/Defensed passes. Emmanuel Sanders had zero regular drops, but two Dropped/Defensed plays. I expected more of these plays to be charted, but this was the first season we kept track of them, and new things added to charting will sometimes be tracked inconsistently in the first year as charters get used to looking for them.

2014 TE: Defensed Rate (Min. 50 Targets) 2014 TE: Drop Rate (Min. 50 Targets)
Rk Receiver Targets Defensed Pct. Rk Receiver Targets Drops Pct.
1 Levine Toilolo 53 6 11.3% 1 Jace Amaro 53 7 13.2%
2 Delanie Walker 106 11 10.4% 2 John Carlson 55 6 10.9%
3 Vernon Davis 51 5 9.8% 3 Scott Chandler 71 6 8.5%
4 Antonio Gates 98 9 9.2% 4 Dwayne Allen 50 4 8.0%
5 Coby Fleener 92 8 8.7% 5 Vernon Davis 51 4 7.8%
6 Jared Cook 99 8 8.1% 6 Coby Fleener 92 7 7.6%
7 Mychal Rivera 99 8 8.1% 7 Levine Toilolo 53 4 7.5%
8 Julius Thomas 62 5 8.1% 8 Mychal Rivera 99 7 7.1%
9 Zach Ertz 89 7 7.9% 9 Martellus Bennett 128 8 6.3%
10 Brent Celek 51 4 7.8% 10 Brent Celek 51 3 5.9%
11 Jordan Reed 65 5 7.7% 11 Niles Paul 52 3 5.8%
12 Greg Olsen 123 9 7.3% 12 Jimmy Graham 124 7 5.6%
13 Jimmy Graham 124 9 7.3% 13 Rob Gronkowski 131 7 5.3%
14 Charles Clay 84 6 7.1% 14 Travis Kelce 87 4 4.6%
15 Jermaine Gresham 79 5 6.3% 15 Heath Miller 91 4 4.4%
16 Martellus Bennett 128 8 6.3% 16 Owen Daniels 79 3 3.8%
17 Dwayne Allen 50 3 6.0% 17 Charles Clay 84 3 3.6%
18 Scott Chandler 71 4 5.6% 18 Jason Witten 90 3 3.3%
19 Heath Miller 91 5 5.5% 19 Larry Donnell 92 3 3.3%
20 John Carlson 55 3 5.5% 20 Jared Cook 99 3 3.0%
21 Owen Daniels 79 4 5.1% 21 Delanie Walker 106 3 2.8%
22 Rob Gronkowski 131 6 4.6% 22 Jermaine Gresham 79 2 2.5%
23 Larry Donnell 92 4 4.3% 23 Zach Ertz 89 2 2.2%
24 Niles Paul 52 2 3.8% 24 Antonio Gates 98 2 2.0%
25 Jace Amaro 53 2 3.8% 25 Julius Thomas 62 1 1.6%
26 Travis Kelce 87 2 2.3% 26 Jordan Reed 65 1 1.5%
27 Jason Witten 90 2 2.2% 27 Greg Olsen 123 1 0.8%

Levine Toilolo and separation don't go together well, so he led tight ends in defensed rate in his first attempt to replace Tony Gonzalez. Rookie Jace Amaro may have had the lowest uncatchable rate, but he wasted some good passes with the highest drop rate. John Carlson was second and he just retired this week.

Fleener and Allen rank high again for the Colts, but this isn't an area where we can blame Andrew Luck. The Colts led the league in dropped passes last year.

2014 RB: Defensed Rate (Min. 50 Targets) 2014 RB: Drop Rate (Min. 50 Targets)
Rk Receiver Targets Defensed Pct. Rk Receiver Targets Drops Pct.
1 Marcel Reece 59 6 10.2% 1 Lamar Miller 52 6 11.5%
2 Darren Sproles 62 4 6.5% 2 Matt Asiata 63 7 11.1%
3 Arian Foster 59 3 5.1% 3 Marcel Reece 59 6 10.2%
4 Fred Jackson 90 4 4.4% 4 Jamaal Charles 59 6 10.2%
5 Shane Vereen 77 3 3.9% 5 Andre Ellington 64 5 7.8%
6 Le'Veon Bell 105 4 3.8% 6 Joique Bell 53 4 7.5%
7 Darren McFadden 56 2 3.6% 7 Arian Foster 59 4 6.8%
8 Reggie Bush 56 2 3.6% 8 Giovani Bernard 59 4 6.8%
9 Giovani Bernard 59 2 3.4% 9 Darren Sproles 62 4 6.5%
10 Matt Forte 130 4 3.1% 10 Shane Vereen 77 4 5.2%
11 Theo Riddick 50 1 2.0% 11 DeMarco Murray 64 3 4.7%
12 Travaris Cadet 51 1 2.0% 12 Theo Riddick 50 2 4.0%
13 Lamar Miller 52 1 1.9% 13 Matt Forte 130 5 3.8%
14 Benny Cunningham 53 1 1.9% 14 Le'Veon Bell 105 4 3.8%
15 Pierre Thomas 55 1 1.8% 15 Reggie Bush 56 2 3.6%
16 Eddie Lacy 55 1 1.8% 16 Fred Jackson 90 2 2.2%
17 Andre Ellington 64 0 0.0% 17 Travaris Cadet 51 1 2.0%
18 DeMarco Murray 64 0 0.0% 18 Pierre Thomas 55 1 1.8%
19 Matt Asiata 63 0 0.0% 19 Eddie Lacy 55 1 1.8%
20 Jamaal Charles 59 0 0.0% 20 Darren McFadden 56 1 1.8%
21 Justin Forsett 59 0 0.0% 21 Justin Forsett 59 1 1.7%
22 Joique Bell 53 0 0.0% 22 Benny Cunningham 53 0 0.0%

Benny Cunningham getting 52 targets (third on the Rams) may be a bigger surprise than Benny Cunningham having zero drops. Oakland fullback Marcel Reece may not be a big fan of Derek Carr's checkdowns. Reece led all running backs in highest defensed rate, and he might have the highest adjusted drop rate if we include a ridiculous play against St. Louis where he was blown up and offensive lineman Gabe Jackson caught the ball.

Alas, that was just a crazy completion, but we hope to have shed some light on 2014 in this study of incompletions.

Posted by: Scott Kacsmar on 08 May 2015

30 comments, Last at 12 May 2015, 12:15pm by tuluse

Comments

1
by andrew :: Sat, 05/09/2015 - 2:46pm

Huh, maybe Coradelle Patterson wasn't as bad last year as it was commonly believed...

2
by lightsout85 :: Sat, 05/09/2015 - 3:38pm

Probably a little of both. Backyard Banter's WR-charting project has his success% (of getting open) as a good deal below league average (vs man & zone) - albeit, not a big sample size. He's still more of an athletic "weapon" than a more polished WR at this point.

3
by mitchellralph :: Sat, 05/09/2015 - 5:25pm

Is there any way you could add a section into this that shows these stats by QB? I'd like to see which QB's threw the most/least uncatchable passes, suffered from the most drops, etc

4
by Scott Kacsmar :: Sat, 05/09/2015 - 8:16pm

Did you check out part I on passers? http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2015/2014-incomplete-pass...

I could group things by passer and receiver, but that'd be harder to present in a tidy manner. I know if I ever do this again, one thing I want to do is watch the defensed plays to get a better idea of what's going on there.

13
by RickD :: Sun, 05/10/2015 - 1:36am

For a lot of teams there's only one passer. But I am curious about DeSean Jackson's 12 underthrows, given that three different QBs started games for the Redskins last year.

14
by mitchellralph :: Sun, 05/10/2015 - 1:58am

I did not see that article. Thank you sir!

5
by rich006 :: Sat, 05/09/2015 - 9:37pm

A receiver with a lot of defensed passes could be poor at making contested catches, or he could be so trusted by his QB that the QB doesn't hesitate to make contested throws--so we have a stat that says either bad or good things about the receiver. In the case of Colston, it's primarily the latter, but last year also a bit of the former.

22
by tuluse :: Mon, 05/11/2015 - 12:51pm

None of the Bears receivers are high on the defensed list. Which is evidence against poor decision making by a QB will really inflate things.

6
by TheSlinger :: Sat, 05/09/2015 - 10:12pm

Would've liked to see a column for the player's team so I can quickly check out my team's receivers without having to search individually by each name.

7
by Thok :: Sat, 05/09/2015 - 11:00pm

"Colin Kaepernick managed to miss Vernon Davis six times too far and six times too short in what was really a lost season for the tight end."

Given that Vernon Davis ranked poorly among tight ends in every single category discussed, and that Kaepernick was actually average or above average in some of those categories, I don't think Kaepernick was the sole reason for Davis's "lost season". (In particular, the underthrown passes are almost certainly Davis's fault, given that neither Boldin nor Crabtree nor Kaepernick have high underthrown rates.)

10
by chemical burn :: Sat, 05/09/2015 - 11:22pm

How do 49er's fans feel about Kaepernick these days? As an outsiders, my feeling is that whole team deserves a mulligan for 2014 and no one should be judged on their performance that season alone. On the other hand, he looked DIRE by season's end. On the third hand, there are positives throughout his numbers in these last two charts and some individual players (like Davis) certainly appear to have not been doing him any favors...

8
by chemical burn :: Sat, 05/09/2015 - 11:20pm

Man, these numbers really make DeSean Jackson look like he has a case for arguing he was the best wr in the league last year. He was 6th in DVOA to begin with despite playing in a totally chaotic environment as far as the QB was concerned. He's at the very bottom of the league in terms of drops (3rd to last), very near the top in terms of uncatchable balls (11th) and #1 in terms of under-thrown balls (which matches up with the idea that he would get open so fast deep that his mediocre, short-armed QB's literally couldn't get the ball out to him.)

No one ahead of him in DVOA (Bryant, T. Williams, Stills, Sanders and Cobb) faced anything in terms of similar adversity. The lowest rated QB any of those players played with was Drew freakin' Brees at 7th in DVOA while the best QB DJax caught passes from was Kirk freakin' Cousin at 15th in DVOA. The other wr's all dropped more passes and weren't over/under-thrown nearly as much.

Those other guys all had great support at the WR position: Cobb/Nelson is 1st/8th in DVOA, Bryant/Williams is 5th/2nd, Still/Colston is 3rd/16th and the worst of the group is Sanders/Thomas at 4th/29th (but 3rd/8th in DYAR.) Andre Roberts was 73rd. Pierre Garcon was 75th. DJax was basically out there doing it himself with an assist from Niles Paul.

I think these numbers make an interesting case that Jackson was the best wr in the league last year...

15
by duh :: Sun, 05/10/2015 - 2:02pm

Man looking through the splits Washington's offense was really dysfunctional on 3rd down lat year.

Jackson averaged 22+ YPC on 1st down 23+ YPC on 2nd down and 9.9 YPC on 3rd down.
If you look at it by target it was 15.7, 13.9 and 4.0

Garcon shows a similar pattern, 11.4,11.4 and 6.8 YPC and by target 8.5, 8.2, and 2.1!!

I think it is the offense and not the QB as if I look at other teams with poor to meh QBing (Ten, Hou, Buf, Oak) I don't see anything approaching that level of difference.

17
by chemical burn :: Sun, 05/10/2015 - 11:58pm

Wow - that's really something. With Jackson, he makes his paycheck beating the safety deep on a double move on early down PA, so I'm not entirely surprised his third down numbers are worse. He kills you if they safety hesitates for even a second to get into position on bracket coverage.

Plus, if you focus coverage on him, you can make him a non-factor in a way you can't with, say, Dez Bryant (which I think explains Bryant's increased "passes defensed" numbers - Romo trusts him to battle for contested balls in a way that no one would dream of doing with Jackson.) But as you point out, the numbers are team-wide. Didn't Griffin and Cousins in general throw short a notably high amount?

Do you think Washington have a semi-functional running game (in comparison to Oakland, TB or Buffalo - their rush offense was better than even Houston's) was a factor - like they got into more third and short situations than those other poorly QB'd teams? Was their third down DVOA notably worse - were the short passes totally ineffective is what I'm wondering? It might not necessarily have been dysfunctional to go for short, easy completions...

18
by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 05/11/2015 - 12:36am

Stumbled across this a few weeks ago and I don't think I'll have time to do a full write-up before the book comes out, so I might as well mention it here: The 2014 Washington Redskins set a record for biggest dropoff from Overall Offense DVOA (-11.7%) to Third Down Offense DVOA (-62.6%). All three QBs had enormous third-down declines, so it wasn't just a "what's wrong with RG3?" thing.

21
by chemical burn :: Mon, 05/11/2015 - 2:05am

That's crazy. What is the explanation?! If you single out just passing DVOA does it get worse? Those YPC numbers suggest it might!

23
by duh :: Mon, 05/11/2015 - 12:52pm

Vince,
Thanks!

Just cause it is so mind numbing ... on 3rd down the Redskins appear to have run 200 plays and made 48 1st downs and scored 3 TDs, on the other hand they had 23 sacks, 10 TOs,(6 int/4 fum)and 11 other plays that gained 0 yards or less.

24
by tuluse :: Mon, 05/11/2015 - 12:53pm

I'd be curious to see how this correlates with distance to go on 3rd down. I know DVOA is supposed to account for this, but 3rd down still tends to be a pass/fail situation compared to 1st and 2nd.

26
by duh :: Mon, 05/11/2015 - 1:48pm

You start to get into a little bit of small sample size theater when breaking it down but I'd say they were:

Terrible on 3rd and short( 3rd & 1-4)below league average in conversion rate (both rushing and passing), QB rating, Y/A, AY/A

Average to maybe a little above average on 3rd and medium (3rd and 4-9)

Beyond description awful on 3rd and long (3rd and 10+) On 66 plays they converted just 5 1st downs, had 10 sacks, 3 INTs and 4 fumbles.

On 3rd and long they just should have punted.

Actually, I'll amend that slightly, if they were 'in FG range' they should have attempted a FG, otherwise they should have punted.

27
by Scott Kacsmar :: Mon, 05/11/2015 - 1:49pm

McCoy threw short of the sticks too often on 3rd down. His Average Minus Need Differential (AMND) was -2.03, which is very Alex Smith like. RG3 was -0.13 and Cousins was +0.71. Cousins also had the higher conversion rate.

29
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 05/12/2015 - 1:41am

Third-and-short (1 to 3 yards to go): Next to last. Only New Orleans was worse.

Third-and-medium (4 to 6 yards to go): 29th. Tennessee, Buffalo, and Jacksonville were worse.

Third-and-long: Dead last at -144.3%. Tennessee was next to last at -65.3%, which means they were actually closer to No. 14 (the Jets) than they were to Washington.

30
by tuluse :: Tue, 05/12/2015 - 12:15pm

Thanks for the data Vince. Wow that's crazy.

9
by LionInAZ :: Sat, 05/09/2015 - 11:21pm

I guess none of the Detroit TEs met the target threshold, but I would still be interested in their drop rates.

11
by chemical burn :: Sat, 05/09/2015 - 11:26pm

Sproles being 2nd in the "RB passes defensed" category matches the ol' "eyeball test" - it seems like teams were very keyed in on him as a receiver this year. It might seem counterintuitive, but I was MUCH happier to see him get the ball as rusher than run a route. He just never seemed to be open and the ball nevertheless got forced his way through the air. DVOA backs that idea up too: 30.4% as a rusher, -3.1% as a pass catcher...

12
by Bobman :: Sat, 05/09/2015 - 11:59pm

Scott, Thanks for bringing up Aaron Baily (do you recall that he was named after Aaron Spelling and his mom pronounced it in a Key and Peele manner with a long A?).
I think you are now required to mention that Kordell Stewart ran out the back of the EZ next to a ref ad was not flagged before catching the winning TD. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Thanks for making me all grumpy....

16
by ChrisS :: Sun, 05/10/2015 - 11:29pm

I wonder if a significant number of RB drops are actually strategic drops. The RB is behind the LOS and a defender(s) is close or closing and a reception is going to result in a loss, then not catching the ball is a smart play.

19
by jamie_k74 :: Mon, 05/11/2015 - 12:54am

"In the first part of our look at incomplete passes in the 2014 season we focused only on receivers." Great way to begin an article - except that the first part focused on *passers*.

20
by Scott Kacsmar :: Mon, 05/11/2015 - 1:47am

*Opens up Microsoft Word*
*Sees "we focused on just the passers" as first sentence*
"I'm trying to be a good teammate here. Let's just say we had some problems with..."

Stuff happens.

25
by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 05/11/2015 - 1:33pm

AGH. No, you can name me, that's fine. 100 percent my fault. Somewhere in that paragraph I was trying to change one instance of "passers" to "quarterbacks" to be a little less redundant and apparently my brain melted down and screwed things all up.

28
by Mugsy :: Mon, 05/11/2015 - 3:38pm

"little white guy named Wes Welker"...
Does it -in any way -matter what color he is?
Some day a person's color may truly be irrelevant, but apparently we're not there yet. That's one thing I notice about little kids today. When I talk to my little boys they never mention a person's color, it's almost like they don't even see color anymore! It seems to be an indication of one's generation.
Maybe some day people won't feel the need to mention color?
I have a dream!