NFL Nation: dropped passes

Guess who leads NFL in dropped passes?

December, 26, 2012
Heading into the final game of the regular season, it appears unlikely New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham will lose his league lead in dropped passes.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Graham, who has been playing with an injured wrist, has dropped 13 passes this season. New England’s Wes Welker is second with 10 drops.

Graham hasn’t been the only New Orleans player to have problems with drops this season. The Saints rank No. 2 in the league with 40 drops. Running back Darren Sproles is tied for third place with nine drops and receiver Marques Colston is tied for 15th place with seven.

Atlanta receiver Julio Jones is the only other NFC South player in the top 20. Jones is tied for seventh place with eight drops.

The Falcons are tied for No. 15 in team drops with 26. The Buccaneers are tied for No. 27 with 20 drops. The Panthers are No. 30 with 17 drops.

On the flip side, Tampa Bay’s Vincent Jackson leads the division with a 98.6 catch percentage (receptions divided by receptions plus drops). Atlanta’s Roddy White, who has bounced back nicely after leading the league in drops last season, is just behind Jackson at 96.7 percent.

Guess who isn't dropped-passes leader?

September, 12, 2012
Watching Roddy White rack up dropped passes last year was kind of like watching a guy chasing a home-run record.

It seemed White was putting one (sometimes more than one) on the ground every game and running away with the league lead in dropped passes. He finished with 14 and we pretty much kept weekly tabs on his count in this blog.

But I just got the list of drops from Week 1 from ESPN Stats & Information and White’s not in his usual spot at the top of the list. In fact, he’s not even on the list.

The top spot belongs to Victor Cruz of the Giants, who dropped three passes in his opening game. If Cruz continues on that pace, he’ll shatter White’s mark.

Two of White’s teammates -- receiver Julio Jones and fullback Lousaka Polite -- had drops in Week 1. But the only other NFC South receiver to drop a pass was New Orleans’ Marques Colston.

In his drop-free opener, White had six catches for 87 yards.
For the first time in a long time, it’s not entirely accurate to say Atlanta’s Roddy White leads the NFL in dropped passes.

That’s because Indianapolis tight end Dallas Clark has moved into a tie with White with seven dropped passes, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In fact, I think it would be fair to say Clark is the bigger offender in this department.

White’s been targeted 79 times and has 43 catches. Clark has been targeted 49 times and has 28 catches. Plus, White has gone nearly a month without a drop.

Tampa Bay’s Mike Williams is the other NFC South leader in dropped passes. Williams is tied for fourth with five drops on 69 targets. Teammates Arrelious Benn and Kellen Winslow each have three drops.

That’s a big part of the reason why the Bucs lead the NFC South (and are tied for No. 6 in the league) with 15 team drops. The Falcons are just behind the Bucs with 14 drops.

The other two NFC South teams are doing pretty well in this area. The Saints have 11 drops and the Panthers have eight.

What's wrong with Roddy White?

October, 3, 2011
After Sunday’s narrow victory in Seattle, Atlanta receiver Roddy White wasn’t in a good mood.

The man who entered the game leading the league in drops, put two more passes on the ground in the fourth quarter.

“Right now, I’m not playing at a high level,” White said. “I’m not really helping my team. I have to fix myself so that we can perform better. We’ll get better.”

White led the NFL with 115 receptions last season. So what’s the problem this season?

You could make a case that the arrival of rookie Julio Jones is taking away some of White’s opportunities. You could say the play of the offensive line hasn’t given quarterback Matt Ryan enough time to find White. You could also point to the fact that White’s not 100-percent healthy, after suffering a thigh bruise in the preseason.

But I’m not going with any of that. I’m putting the blame for this one on the lockout.

There was a reason why White had a career year in 2010. It was because he and Ryan had a full offseason together for the first time. In 2008, Ryan had just been drafted and wasn’t around for the entire offseason program. In 2009, White was seeking a new contract and missed parts of the offseason program and training camp before getting a new deal.

Last year, Ryan and White worked together almost every day during the offseason and the results showed on the field. I’m not blaming the lockout for many things, because all teams had to deal with it.

Like a lot of teams, the Falcons had a fair amount of players-only workouts. White was there for some, but not all, of those. He didn’t get enough work with Ryan this offseason, and the results are showing on the field.

What constitutes a dropped pass?

September, 28, 2011
Good question in the comments section from Los Angeles Rams of St. Louis regarding dropped passes: What constitutes one, exactly?

Hank Gargiulo of ESPN Stats & Information passed along the written standard our game charters rely upon to reduce subjectivity.

This standard says drops are "incomplete passes where the receiver SHOULD have caught the pass with ORDINARY effort."

Basically, we're talking about blatant drops, not the ones where your old man leans over and says anything that grazed the receiver anywhere was a drop in his day.

"Only use this if the receiver is 100 percent at fault and no one else can be blamed for the incompletion," ESPN tells its game charters. "Pass interference that wasn't called/passes thrown just outside the receiver's reach, etc., are NOT drops."