AFC South: Tim Hightower

AFC South drops, target report

November, 12, 2009
Ten people who are part of the ESPN Stats & Information machine in Bristol, Conn. watch every pass thrown in the NFL to break them down in every way imaginable. Then they send the breakdowns to my e-mail box.

What a life I lead, huh?

Here’s my AFC South-centric review of their excellent review.

Sure hands are a major feature of the division which boasts three of the top five teams in the fewest drops by team category.
Fewest drops by team (percentage of passes)
Team Attempts Drops Drop pct.
Texans 313 7 2.2
Broncos 258 8 3.1
Falcons 236 8 3.4
Jaguars 258 9 3.5
Colts 313 11 3.5
>> League average: 5.5%

Major contributions to that excellent standing by Houston and Jacksonville come from Owen Daniels (zero drops in 58 targeted chances), Steve Slaton (40) and Mike Sims-Walker (51).

Among wide receivers with at least 25 times targeted, Kevin Walter ranks fourth with a 77.1 percent catch rate and Sims-Walker is 12th at 70.6 percent. The league average is 58.6 percent.

On the other end of the spectrum, despite a much better showing in San Francisco last week, Justin Gage 10th worst among wide receivers targeted at least 25 times with a 44.9 percent catch rate.

Onward, beyond drops…
  • Andre Johnson is the NFL’s most targeted receiver, with Matt Schaub looking to him 90 times. The Giants Steve Smith is second (87) while Reggie Wayne is tied with Larry Fitzgerald for third (86). Dallas Clark is seventh (72)
  • Nobody from the division rates in the top six for targets in the fourth quarter and overtime.
  • Nate Washington is tied for fifth in times targeted in the red zone with 10, and he’s caught nine for four touchdowns.
  • Wayne is tied for second (28) and Johnson is tied for sixth (24) in times targeted by passes thrown 15-yards or more downfield.
  • For more on Wayne and Randy Moss as we head towards the New England-Indianapolis matchup, please see this sister post.
  • Clark is the league’s most-targeted tight end with 60 catches on 72 chances. Daniels, done for the season with a knee injury, is fifth on the list with 58 targets.
  • Maurice Jones-Drew is the league’s third most-targeted running back (44) behind Ray Rice and Tim Hightower. Joseph Addai is fifth (41) and Slaton is sixth (39).
  • Jacoby Jones has three touchdowns in 17 times targeted, a 17.6 percent mark that’s 10th in the NFL but well above the league average of 4.35 percent.
  • No AFC South player ranks in the top six in drops or in the top eight for drop percentage among receivers targeted at least 25 times.

AFC South: Final Word

September, 25, 2009

Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

Five nuggets of knowledge about Sunday’s games:
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Matt Schaub can put up big numbers as long as he doesn't get blitzed often.
The Jaguars have to get to Matt Schaub: As you see here, Schaub has been great when not being blitzed. The Jaguars are generating minimal pressure, but if they bring extra people they’re hardly solid in the secondary with reduced numbers, either. Major dilemma. Wouldn’t it be nice for Jacksonville if Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves -- who’s listed these days as an outside backer -- won some one-on-ones and applied some consistent pressure? Beyond them, if I am the Jags, I find every way imaginable to attack left guard Kasey Studdard, who’s in for the injured mainstay Chester Pitts.

Can the Colts dissuade the Cardinals from running? Kurt Warner was historically efficient last week in the win at Jacksonville. Lost in that was the fact that he was playing off a decent run game, or it was playing off him. Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells combined for 116 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Arizona will benefit from similar commitment and production, of course. I don’t know if the Cards are equipped to dominate time of possession. But some long drives may tire out the Colts defense a week removed from a very long and physical game.

The Titans have a handle on Rex Ryan: That doesn’t mean they handle his team’s game plan at Giants Stadium on Sunday. But during Ryan’s four years as defensive coordinator in Baltimore, Tennessee was 2-2 against the Ravens, and the losses were by a combined four points. While the Titans gave the ball away three times and lost 13-10, gaining yards against the Ravens in the playoff game in January wasn’t an issue -- the Titans had 391 including 4.1 per rush attempt.

Houston can play a different brand of run defense: The Texans need to do much better stopping the run, but in this matchup a Colts-like approach could work for them. If they are able to jump out to a lead, the Jaguars will have to throw more and hand it to Maurice Jones-Drew less. The offense can give the defense an easy route to not having to deal with MJD so much. If the Jaguars can stay close, they should run it a ton, and then we’ll have to see if Houston’s made any progress.

This may not be the week for the Colts to run it: Arizona ranks fourth in run defense and 18th against the pass. Playing from behind, the Jaguars only managed to hand the ball to Maurice Jones-Drew 13 times against the Cards. Indy will want to run it enough to make its play-action believable. But if there are pass plays to be found, I envision them taking them and leaving the bigger run issues to be sorted out in the weeks to come.