Stats & Info: Robert Woods

What challenges await new AFC coaches?

July, 25, 2013
7/25/13
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Eight NFL teams welcome new head coaches to the sideline this season. We take a closer look at some of the challenges those coaches will face. Here’s a look at the AFC (the NFC can be found here.

Buffalo Bills: Doug Marrone
2012 record: 6-10


Big addition: Kevin Kolb and E.J. Manuel were brought in to compete at quarterback, and either should add a vertical element to the Bills offense. Since Ryan Fitzpatrick joined the Bills in 2009, his 25.4 completion percentage on throws deeper than 20 yards downfield is worst in the league.

One headache: Are two rookies (Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin) enough to improve the Bills receiving corps? Despite using more three-plus wide receiver sets than any other team last season, Bills wide receivers recorded the sixth-fewest receiving yards (2,152).

Key stat: The Bills allowed 3.5 yards per rush before first contact on rushes between the tackles last season, worst in the NFL. The Bills haven’t finished a season better than 26th in that category since the start of 2009.

Cleveland Browns: Rob Chudzinski
2012 record: 5-11


Big addition: From Week 10 to the Super Bowl, no player had more sacks than Paul Kruger (12). He and first-round pick Barkevious Mingo will help the Browns transition to a 3-4 defense.

One headache: Is Brandon Weeden the right quarterback to run a Norv Turner offense? Weeden overthrew or underthrew receivers on 45 percent of his throws at least 15 yards downfield last year, third highest in the league.

Key stat: The Browns' defense allowed a 28.7 Total QBR last year, third best in the league. However, the offense ranked 30th in third-down conversion percentage (30.7 percent).

Jacksonville Jaguars: Gus Bradley
2012 record: 2-14


Big addition: Luke Joeckel will immediately bolster a Jaguars offensive line that allowed 50 sacks last season, third most in the league.


One headache: Now that they can protect quarterbacks better, they need to find one. Jaguars quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne combined for a 34.8 Total QBR, one of only five teams worse than 40.0.

Key stat: The Jaguars used four or fewer pass rushers on 80 percent of opponent dropbacks last season, fifth-highest in the NFL. Although the Jags depended on standard pressure, they averaged a sack once every 32.9 dropbacks, worst in the NFL.

Kansas City Chiefs: Andy Reid
2012 record: 2-14


Big addition: Alex Smith posted career highs in completion percentage (70.2 percent) and yards per attempt (8.0) last year. Smith’s completion percentage was best among 36 quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts.

One headache: Jonathan Baldwin caught 42 percent of his targets last season, the worst catch percentage among 162 players with at least 40 targets. Free-agent signee Donnie Avery wasn’t much better, with the fifth-lowest catch percentage among 44 players with at least 100 targets.

Key stat: The Chiefs' defense allowed 893 rush yards after contact last year, the most of any team in the league. Only the Colts allowed more 20-yard rushes (21) than the Chiefs' defense (19).

San Diego Chargers: Mike McCoy
2012 record: 7-9


Big addition: Free-agent tackle Max Starks and first-round pick D.J. Fluker will help create holes in the running game. The Chargers averaged 1.9 yards before contact per rush last year, one of two offenses to average fewer than 2.0.

One headache: Robert Meachem will carry a cap hit of $6.9 million this year, 11th-highest among wide receivers. Six Chargers were targeted more than Meachem (32) last year, and he tied for 181st in targets among all players.

Key stat: Philip Rivers has to control the ball better. Rivers fumbled 15 times last year, most in a season since Jon Kitna had 17 in 2007.

Barkley deep ball supports Heisman hype

August, 16, 2012
8/16/12
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Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesUSC quarterback Matt Barkley is on pace to become the school's all-time leader in passing yards, completions, and touchdowns.
Matt Barkley will begin the year for No. 3 Southern California as a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy. Barkley would be the seventh Trojan to win the award (excluding Reggie Bush), tying USC with Notre Dame and Ohio State for most all-time.

His stellar play during the past three seasons has fueled the Heisman speculation heading into his senior year. To date, he has amassed over 9,000 passing yards and 80 touchdowns in 36 career starts (27-9) and is on pace to become USC’s all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns and completions.

High expectations are nothing new for Barkley as he entered USC in 2009 as the No. 1 player in the ESPN 150. After enrolling early, Barkley won the starting job during spring practice and became the only true freshmen to ever start the season opener for the Trojans.

Barkley also showed as a freshman that he would not shy away from the big stage. In just his second-career start, he led the Trojans on an 86-yard game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter against Ohio State in Columbus. Barkley finished the season with 2,735 yards and 15 touchdowns, the most by a true freshmen in school history.

USC’s starting center Khaled Holmes said of Barkley, the Trojans first ever three-time captain, "Guys recognized not only his skill, but his work ethic, his willingness to learn and his mental strength as well."

It appears that Barkley's work ethic has paid dividends as his completion percentage, passing yards, touchdown-to-interception ratio and passing efficiency have all improved in each of his three seasons. In 2011, Barkley finished with the third-most touchdown passes (39) and had the eighth-highest passing efficiency (161.2) in the FBS.

The area in which Barkley has made the biggest stride is his downfield passing. In 2011, he led the Pac-12 with 13 touchdown passes on throws that traveled 25 yards or more downfield.

That matched the combined total of fellow Pac-12 quarterbacks Andrew Luck (4), Nick Foles (4), and Darron Thomas (5)

The 13 touchdowns were also nine more than Barkley’s combined total from his first two seasons. Most impressively, his interceptions went down while the touchdowns went up. In 49 attempts 25-plus yards downfield, Barkley threw one interception in 2011. He had five such picks in the previous two seasons.

One factor that led to Barkley’s improved downfield passing was the emergence of wide receiver Marqise Lee. Lee provided another quality option for USC so teams could no longer focus solely on containing all-American receiver, Robert Woods.

As a freshman last season, Lee caught eight of Barkley’s 13 touchdowns on throws of 25-plus yards, and he had more receptions on such throws than the rest of the team combined. As a duo, Lee and Woods caught 26 total touchdown passes, including 12 on throws of 25-plus yards. Both receivers are back for the 2012 season.

If Barkley, Lee, and Woods continue to make positive strides in 2012, there’s no telling how far the Trojans can go.

How Redd fills gaps in USC’s offense

July, 31, 2012
7/31/12
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US Presswire
Former Penn State running back Silas Redd will be a great fit at USC.
Silas Redd has decided to transfer to USC, forgoing his junior and senior seasons at Penn State in hopes of winning a national title with the Trojans.

Redd will join an already stacked USC offense. Last season, the Trojans were the only team in FBS with a 3,500-yard passer in Matt Barkley, two 1,000-yard receivers in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee and a 1,000-yard rusher in Curtis McNeal. All four players are returning next season, along with four of USC’s five offensive line starters from a season ago.

Despite returning nine offensive starters, the Trojans had one glaring hole entering 2012: depth at running back. USC returns Curtis McNeal, who averaged an astonishing 6.9 yards per attempt last season, but after McNeal only D.J. Morgan has any career carries (42 rush attempts).

While USC may have had one of the most prolific passing attacks in the nation last season, its running game was far from efficient. The Trojans ran for 12 touchdowns in 392 attempts, the second lowest touchdown percentage in the Pac-12 and the 96th lowest rate in the nation.

USC struggled most in the red zone, rushing for the fewest touchdowns (8) in the Pac-12, while losing a Pac-12 worst five fumbles inside of the 20. Curtis McNeal averaged 2.9 yards per attempt in the red zone and scored just two touchdowns in 79 attempts.

Silas Redd, who averaged 3.8 yards per attempt and scored seven red-zone touchdowns, should bolster a red zone rushing attack that ranked tied for 115th in FBS in red zone touchdown percentage (13.3 pct).

Redd’s receiving skills should also help Matt Barkley and the passing game. Over the last three seasons, USC averaged 56.7 pass attempts to its running backs per season. Yet returning USC running backs have only been targeted five times resulting in three catches in their careers. Silas Redd caught 13 passes in a limited passing offense at Penn State, adding depth to USC’s receiving corps.

The threat of Redd and McNeal in the backfield will only help Matt Barkley.

Barkley’s completion percentage jumped over 10 percentage points after a play-action fake last season, and he averages close to two more yards per attempt after first faking the run in his career.

As one of two teams with two 1,000-yard rushers from last season, USC’s new backfield of Curtis McNeal and Silas Redd may turn a perceived weakness into a strength heading into 2012.

McNeal and Redd may prove to be the best USC tandem since Reggie Bush and LenDale White combined for 3,042 yards and 40 touchdowns in 2005, as together they solidify USC’s red-zone rushing and bolster an already strong passing game.

High expectations for USC, passing attack

April, 10, 2012
4/10/12
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Kirby Lee/US PresswireMatt Barkley is back to direct one of the most potent passing attacks in USC Trojans history.
Coming off of a two-year postseason ban, the USC Trojans plan to make their presence felt nationally this season. Matt Barkley and several other offensive skill players are back for a team that went 10-2 and averaged 36 points per game last season.

This is the first time since 2005 that USC has had its top passer, top rusher, and top two receivers return from the previous season. That team was coming off an undefeated season and national championship, and would run the table before falling to the Texas Longhorns in the final moments of the BCS Championship Game in Pasadena.

Aside from having the most prolific weapon in college football that season in Reggie Bush, USC's returning offensive group could be even more explosive in 2012 -- especially Matt Barkley and the Trojan passing assault.

Barkley's numbers from 2011 were better across the board than Matt Leinart's were when he won the Heisman Trophy in 2004. Barkley threw for more yards and touchdowns while completing a higher percentage of his passes in 2011 than Leinart did in 2004.

What's particularly scary for Pac-12 defenses is that Barkley has improved from year to year. His touchdowns have gone up and interceptions have dropped every year at USC, while Leinart's numbers were relatively unchanged during his three seasons leading the Trojans.

Barkley’s biggest improvement last year came when throwing the ball deep. He increased his completion percentage on passes 15-or-more yards downfield by 10 percent and didn’t throw an interception when throwing deep.

While Leinart often deferred to Reggie Bush and Lendale White in the red zone in 2005 (40 combined rushing TDs in 2005), the strength of the 2012 team lies with Barkley and his two favorite targets on the outside, Robert Woods and Marqise Lee.

The 2011 season marked the fourth time that a pair of USC receivers each eclipsed 1,000 yards, as Woods and Lee combined for 2,435 yards and 26 touchdowns. USC gained more yards from Barkley passing to Woods and Lee than 38 FBS teams had through the air for the season.

Woods and Barkley already hold several school and conference records. If they each replicate their success in 2012, even more records will fall.

Assuming a repeat performance of his 2011 statistics, Woods would be the Pac-12 career leader in receptions and would be tied for second in career touchdown receptions, all in three seasons. Barkley would be the eighth FBS quarterback to throw for more than 115 touchdowns in his career, and would be the Pac-12 career leader in passing yards and touchdowns.

Though setting records would be nice for these two players, the entire team has made it clear that there is a singular goal for the Men of Troy -- a BCS Championship.

Sharon Katz contributed to this post

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