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Predictions in Review: AFC South

During the 2013 offseason, I wrote 32 articles under the RPO 2013 tag. In my Predictions in Review series, I review those preview articles with the benefit of hindsight. Previously, I reviewed the AFC West and the NFC West. Today, the AFC South, beginning with a straightforward case in Tennessee.

Britt smoked the Eagles secondary

Britt smoked the Eagles secondary.

Can Kenny Britt become the next great wide receiver?, July 9, 2013

Spoiler alert: Kenny Britt did not become the next great wide receiver, at least in 2013 (apparently, I still can’t quit him). Britt is an easy player to fall in love with, if you ignored the warning signs. He was just 20 years old when he played in his first NFL game in 2009. In 2010, he led all players in yards per route run according to Pro Football Focus, but his raw numbers underhwlemed because the Titans were a run-heavy team and Britt missed 30% of the season with a hamstring injury. In 2011, he matched his elite YPRR production, but a torn ACL/MCL tear ended his season after 94 pass routes.

He struggled in 2012, but I was willing to write that off due to recovering from the ugly knee injury, additional hamstring and ankle injuries, and a first-year starter in Jake Locker. That set up 2013 as a season where I thought Britt had great breakout potential. I interviewed Thomas Gower, of Total Titans and Football Outsiders, and asked him his thoughts. Gower was more pessimistic than I was about Britt, and for good reason.

As it turned out, Britt never seemed quite right mentally (in more ways than one); he struggled with drops and was eventually dropped behind Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright on the depth chart. He finished the year with 11 catches for only 96 yards and no touchdowns. In late December, Britt said he would definitely be a #1 wide receiver somewhere in 2014, which means I’m susceptible to falling into the Britt trap again. [click to continue…]

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Last week, I wrote about how the 2012 Redskins were powered by a pair of rookies in Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris. The only team whose rookies had more passing/rushing/receiving yards in NFL history was the 2012 Colts, while the only non-expansion team with a higher percentage of yards from rookies was the ’55 Colts.

In the comments, Shattenjager pointed out that the list I presented was pretty quarterback-heavy. So I thought a fun thing to do would be to use PFR’s Approximate Value (AV) system instead of yards, and re-run the numbers.

The table below shows all non-expansion teams since 1950 that had at least 25% of their AV come from rookies. For each team, I’ve listed their record and winning percentage, total team AV, their rookie AV, and the percentage compiled by rookies. Then I listed their top four rookies in terms of AV.
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Five years ago, Doug wrote an interesting post about game-winning touchdowns. Let’s be clear: tracking things like game-winning touchdowns is only interesting in a trivial sort way, but hey, it’s April.

Football doesn’t have a statistic like “game-winning RBIs” the way baseball does, although my friend Scott Kacsmar has been doing a great job tracking 4th quarter comebacks and game-winning drives for quarterbacks. I was wondering which players have scored the most game-winning touchdowns in the 4th quarter or overtime, and fortunately I have the data to answer that pretty easily. I looked at all games, regular and postseason, in all leagues, from 1940 to 2012, and counted all touchdowns scored that put the player’s team ahead for good (with one exception: I did not count touchdowns scored when down by 7 and the team successfully went for two afterwards).

The table below lists all players with at least five such touchdowns and the teams for which they scored those touchdowns.

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I’ve noted a few times this year that Calvin Johnson, in his pursuit of Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving record, has quite an advantage on his side. The Lions have attempted more passes through 13 games of any team ever, and seem likely to break the pass attempts record.

Obviously it’s easier to gain more receiving yards when your team is throwing the ball nearly every play. That’s why when I came up with my Greatest WR Ever series, I looked at receiver performance per pass attempt.

I don’t have time for a nuanced analysis of wide receiver, but let’s just look at a simple statistic: receiving yards per team pass attempt. That’s what the table below shows, along with each player’s rank in receiving yards (the far left column). Brandon Marshall has 1,342 receiving yards while the Bears have only attempted 444 passes this year (including sacks). That means he’s averaging more than three yards per team pass attempt, which is incredible. Of course, it also speaks to the lack of other weapons in Chicago.

Ryds Rk
Player
Tm
Rec
Ryds
TD
TMATT
Yds/Att
Y/A Rk
2Brandon MarshallCHI101134294443.021
7Vincent JacksonTAM56114584422.592
4Andre JohnsonHOU82120934712.573
1Calvin JohnsonDET96154656182.54
6A.J. GreenCIN791151104782.415
5Demaryius ThomasDEN74119785032.386
12Steve SmithCAR6099924252.357
9Wes WelkerNWE95111645192.158
3Reggie WayneIND94122045692.149
8Roddy WhiteATL77114055352.1310
11Victor CruzNYG76100494792.111
14Brian HartlineMIA6292514422.0912
28Michael CrabtreeSFO6676153831.9913
13Julio JonesATL6399775351.8614
22Dwayne BoweKAN5980134361.8415
10Dez BryantDAL75102895671.8116
45Sidney RiceSEA4565873651.817
26Steve JohnsonBUF6177654321.818
24Davone BessMIA6177814421.7619
19Anquan BoldinBAL5882844821.7220
35Jeremy KerleyNYJ5272824351.6721
31Mike WilliamsTAM4673674421.6722
20Cecil ShortsJAX4382475001.6523
39Greg OlsenCAR5469154251.6324
25Randall CobbGNB7177774841.6125
15Marques ColstonNOR6588985591.5926
42Percy HarvinMIN6267734291.5827
23Eric DeckerDEN6479085031.5728
29Torrey SmithBAL4375374821.5629
18Tony GonzalezATL8183175351.5530
16Jason WittenDAL9288015671.5531
27Malcom FloydSDG5477555031.5432
17Lance MooreNOR5384845591.5233
32Josh GordonCLE4273254871.534
21Miles AustinDAL5581955671.4435
30Rob GronkowskiNWE53748105191.4436
34Mike WallacePIT5972885091.4337
47Hakeem NicksNYG5065234791.3638
44Jordy NelsonGNB4665864841.3639
59Brandon LaFellCAR3457744251.3640
72Golden TateSEA3749273651.3541
40Heath MillerPIT6167975091.3342
52Jermaine GreshamCIN5563654781.3343
70Vernon DavisSFO3850653831.3244
53Owen DanielsHOU5262264711.3245
49Nate WashingtonTEN3964844991.346
33Brandon MyersOAK7072845611.347
38DeSean JacksonPHI4570025411.2948
36Jimmy GrahamNOR6471085591.2749
58Chris GivensSTL3658434641.2650
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Let’s start with some trivia before moving to today’s post:

  • Only two quarterback-receiver pairs have ever topped the 10,000 yard mark. Can you name them?
    Hint: Show
  • Only two receivers (minimum: 7,000 yards) gained at least 93% of their career receiving yards from one quarterback. Do you know who they are?
    Hint: Show
  • Two of the men in the top ten in career receiving yards can credit the same quarterback account for more of their yards than any other passer. Can you name that quarterback?
    Hint Show
  • Can you name the receiver who gained over 10,000 yards in his career, but the quarterback from whom he gained the most yards was… Quincy Carter?
    Hint Show
  • Among the top twenty-five leaders in career receiving yards, can you guess which player was the only one to fail to catch at least 20% of his yards from a single quarterback?
    Hint Show

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The best and worst wide receiver records

On Tuesday, I looked at running back records and argued that Steven Jackson had taken the mantle from Ollie Matson as the most prominent elite running back to have toiled for losing teams for the majority of his career. It’s easy to feel bad for a player like Jackson, relegated to consistent attack as the focal point of opposing defenses for a decade, continuously grinding out yardage while playing for bad teams.

Things are a little different for wide receivers. In fact, it’s often easier for wide receivers to produce better stats while playing for bad teams, since trailing teams are forced to throw later in games. Further, wide receivers don’t face the constant pounding that running backs encounter, making them slightly less sympathetic figures. Still, it’s an interesting question, and one that’s easy enough to answer. Which wide receivers have played for the best and worst teams? Any guesses? The results, after the jump.

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