Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

25 Oct 2006

Terrell Owens, Number Two Receiver

Monday night, cameras showed Terrell Owens ranting on the sidelines about the poor performance of his quarterbacks. This is something we’re all used to. What we’re not used to is the fact that Owens is no longer the most productive receiver on his team. It’s not even close. The receiver who makes the Cowboys go is Terry Glenn.

To see just how different 2006 has been, I decided to go back and compare Owens to the closest comparable receiver on his team each year, back to 2000. For those unfamiliar with Football Outsiders stats, Catch Percentage is simply the percentage of passes caught that were intended for this receiver, and DPAR is our Defense-adjusted Points Above Replacement stat that we use in Monday's Quick Reads column.

2000 – San Francisco

Owens: Catch Percentage: 67%, Rank: 6th. Yards per Pass: 10.1, Rank: 6th (40.4 DPAR)
Jerry Rice: Catch Percentage: 62%, Rank: 17th. Yards per Pass: 6.6, Rank: 56th (11.3 DPAR)

2001 – San Francisco

Owens: Catch Percentage: 61%, Rank: 22nd. Yards per Pass: 9.2, Rank: 10th (36.8 DPAR)
J.J. Stokes: Catch Percentage: 60%, Rank: 23rd. Yards per Pass: 6.5, Rank: 64th (9.3 DPAR)

2002 – San Francisco

Owens: Catch Percentage: 63%, Rank: 19th. Yards per Pass: 8.2, Rank: 28th (28.6 DPAR)
J.J. Stokes: Catch Percentage: 58%, Rank: 46th. Yards per Pass: 6.0, Rank: 75th (-1.5 DPAR)

2003 – San Francisco

Owens: Catch Percentage: 55%, Rank: 43rd. Yards per Pass: 7.6, Rank: 39th (12.4 DPAR)
Cedrick Wilson: Catch Percentage: 56%, Rank: 38th. Yards per Pass: 6.3, Rank: 70th (-2.0 DPAR)

2004 – Philadelphia

Owens: Catch Percentage: 61%, Rank: 23rd. Yards per Pass: 9.5, Rank: 17th (31.9 DPAR)
Todd Pinkston: Catch Percentage: 57%, Rank: 41rd. Yards per Pass: 10.7, Rank: 5th (12.1 DPAR)

2005 – Philadelphia

Owens: Catch Percentage: 51%, Rank: 67th. Yards per Pass: 8.3, Rank: 30th (13.2 DPAR)
Reggie Brown: Catch Percentage: 54%, Rank: 55th. Yards per Pass: 7.2, Rank: 57th (3.8 DPAR)

2006 – Dallas

Owens: Catch Percentage: 50%, Rank: 56th. Yards per Pass: 6.7, Rank: 61th (5.9 DPAR)
Terry Glenn: Catch Percentage: 66%, Rank: 15th. Yards per Pass: 8.6, Rank: 29th (8.1 DPAR)

In San Francisco, there was little doubt that Owens made the team go. In Philadelphia, as long as he kept his head on straight, his contributions were valuable. But teaming up with Glenn is the worst possible thing Terrell Owens could do to his ego. Teams have tolerated T.O.'s nonsense because of a lack of talent at the receiver position. Dallas, however, had plenty of talent at the position, led by Glenn.

If Owens were able to take a page from the Book of Keyshawn and become an integral part of a greater unit, the Cowboys might have something truly special. But the sad fact is that one receiver in Dallas is making all the noise, while another is actually performing as his team needs him to.

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 25 Oct 2006