Thursday, September 29, 2011
NFC West receiver targets by down, QB
By Mike Sando
Last week, San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis was questioning his role as a receiver in the offense.
This week, the Arizona Cardinals are seeking ways to get Larry Fitzgerald more involved, while the Seattle Seahawks' leading receiver from 2010, Mike Williams, deals with becoming an afterthought.
With an assist from Hank Gargiulo of ESPN Stats & Information, I've put together charts showing the players NFC West quarterbacks have targeted at least five times through three games. An asterisk reveals a total affected by fourth-down targets, which are not shown.
In the first chart, we see that Kolb has targeted Fitzgerald more times than any NFC West starter has targeted another player. But the 23 targets rank only tied for 21st in the NFL.
Fitzgerald averaged 10.9 targets per game last season, tied with Reggie Wayne for most in the league. He is averaging 7.7 targets per game this season, but the quality of those targets has likely improved with Kolb taking over at quarterback.
Early Doucet is the player Kolb has targeted most on third down.
The next chart shows how far Williams has fallen in Seattle. Jackson has targeted him six times in three games after Williams commanded 7.7 targets per game in 14 games last season. Sidney Rice drew more targets in his Seattle debut (10) than Williams has drawn through three games this season.
Tight end Zach Miller is getting most of his targets on first down, when the threat of the run is greatest. The Seahawks have needed him to help with protection on passing downs.
The totals for Sam Bradford show Greg Salas and Danario Alexander leading in third-down targets while Danny Amendola recovers from a dislocated elbow suffered during the season opener.
Amendola ranked 18th in the league last season with 121 targets, or 7.5 per game. Bradford had already targeted him six times when Amendola left the opener. Expect a similar pace once Amendola is healthy.
The numbers for Alex Smith show Davis has nothing to complain about relative to how many times teammates have been targeted. Braylon Edwards and Michael Crabtree would ideally have more targets, but both have had their snaps limited by injuries this season.