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.
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)|
|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%|
|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.
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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)|
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)|
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)|
|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%|
|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%|
|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%|
|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)|
|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)|
|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.
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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)|
|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%|
|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%|
|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%|
|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)|
|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)|
|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.
30 comments, Last at 12 May 2015, 12:15pm
#2 by lightsout85 // May 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.
#4 by Scott Kacsmar // May 09, 2015 - 8:16pm
Did you check out part I on passers? http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2015/2014-incomplete-pass-breakdown-passers
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.
#5 by rich006 // May 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.
#7 by thok // May 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 // May 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 // May 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 // May 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 // May 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 // May 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.
#23 by duh // May 11, 2015 - 12:52pm
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 Thomas_beardown // May 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 // May 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 // May 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 // May 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.
#11 by chemical burn // May 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 // May 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 // May 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.
#25 by Vincent Verhei // May 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 // May 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!