Stats & Info: Larry Fitzgerald

Top stats to know: Seahawks at Cardinals

October, 17, 2013

Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY Sports Russell Wilson and the Seahawks will try to avenge last season's road loss to the Cardinals.
Week 7 of the NFL season kicks off tonight as the Arizona Cardinals play host to the Seattle Seahawks.

Last season, the Seahawks lost 20-16, in their Week 1 road game against the Cardinals, but avenged that loss at home in Week 14 with a 58-0 drubbing.

Here are some of the storylines for the game.

1. The Seahawks have won 11 straight home games, but the bad news for them is this game will be played in Arizona. The Seahawks are just 5-6 on the road over the last two regular seasons. In road games this season, the Seattle defense is allowing more than 20 points per game, while allowing opposing quarterbacks a 69 Total QBR. That means the average quarterback playing at home against Seattle is basically producing at a Pro Bowl level this year (Cam Newton, Matt Schaub and Andrew Luck).

To compare, in their three home games this season, the Seahawks have allowed just 11 points per game, and an NFL-best opponents’ Total QBR of 15.

2. Russell Wilson's key for success will be to use play action to set up his pocket passing.

Wilson has attempted 65 throws off play action this season, the second-highest total in the league, and his 93.5 Total QBR on such throws ranks behind only Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers.

But Wilson will have to avoid leaving the pocket. Over the last two seasons, no quarterback has thrown more from outside the pocket than Wilson. While he excelled on such throws last season (62% comp pct, 71 Total QBR), his numbers have dropped off this season (53% comp pct, 51 Total QBR).

3. The Seahawks defense will have their hands full with Larry Fitzgerald, who showed signs of his old form last week. He had a season-high 117 receiving yards last week, just the second time in his last 19 games that he’s gone over 100 yards.

Still, Carson Palmer has more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (four) when throwing to Fitzgerald this season. That continues a trend for Arizona that started when Kurt Warner retired following the 2009 season.

4. Over the last two seasons, the Cardinals are 1-7 against their fellow NFC West teams, the worst divisional record of any team in the NFL. However, the only win was the aforementioned win over the Seahawks in last season’s Week 1.

5. A matchup to watch is Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch against the Cardinals rush defense.

Lynch has 487 rushing yards this season, the third-most in the NFL. He’s done a large part of his work in the first quarter with 231 of those rushing yards (more than 47 percent) coming in the first quarter, 47 more than any other player.

But the Cardinals rush defense has been stout this season. They’re only allowing 3.5 yards per rush this season, the fourth-best mark in the league. Consider though that after allowing 79 rush yards per game over the first five weeks this season, the Cardinals were gashed for a season-high 149 yards in last week’s loss to San Francisco.

Flacco dominant downfield against Niners

February, 4, 2013

Chuck Cook/USA TODAY SportsJoe Flacco had a Total QBR of 95.1 Sunday, tied for the 2nd-best single-game Total QBR of his career.
Joe Flacco's exceptional playoff run is a significant reason why the Baltimore Ravens are Super Bowl XLVII champions, but where specifically did he excel? An advanced look into his performance as well as some others from both the Ravens and San Francisco 49ers:

Flacco Dangerous Downfield

For starters, Flacco was able to find success downfield. He was 7-13 for 171 yards and two touchdowns on passes deeper than 10 yards downfield in Super Bowl XVLII. By contrast, Flacco struggled on those throws in the regular season, posting the second-worst completion percentage (41.1 percent).

From 2008-11 in the postseason, Flacco had just one touchdown and six interceptions on throws over 10 yards downfield, but this postseason, he tossed seven touchdowns and had no interceptions. On Sunday, Flacco also took advantage of a San Francisco defense that had been allowing the big play more often.

Including the Super Bowl, the 49ers allowed five touchdowns and a 67.5 completion percentage on passes more than 10 yards downfield in the postseason. In the regular season, the 49ers allowed only three touchdowns (fewest) on those throws and a 38.7 completion percentage (third best).

Bold When it Matters

Flacco completed seven-of-10 third-down throws for 158 yards and two touchdowns, including four-of-four and a touchdown targeting Anquan Boldin. Boldin entered the game with just one third-down touchdown reception in 105 career third-down targets with the Ravens.

Boldin also became more of a threat near the goal line in the playoffs. He caught four-of-four passes thrown into the end zone during the postseason, including a 13-yard touchdown reception to open the scoring. Compare that to the regular season, when he caught three of 10 end-zone targets.

Teammate Jacoby Jones was also a significant threat. Jones scored on a 56-yard reception with 1:45 left in the second quarter, giving the Ravens a 21-3 lead. The pass traveled 47 yards downfield, giving him two touchdowns this postseason on throws at least 40 yards downfield. He is the first player since Larry Fitzgerald in 2008 to score two touchdowns on such passes in a single postseason.

Kaepernick Connection Issues

On the San Francisco side, Colin Kaepernick's strengths often became weaknesses. Including postseason play, Kaepernick entered Sunday leading the NFL with an on-target throw percentage of 87.5 among quarterbacks with at least 20 pass attempts. Against the Ravens, Kaepernick under or overthrew seven of 28 attempts (25.0 percent) including the only interception by either quarterback on a pass that sailed well over the head of Randy Moss.

Targeting Moss has been an issue for the Niners quarterback. Kaepernick threw three interceptions on 42 passes when throwing in Moss’ direction this season (interception every 14 attempts). When targeting his other receivers, Kaepernick threw two interceptions on 242 attempts (interception every 121 attempts).

What's more, the 49ers ran 13 option plays in both the Super Bowl and NFC Championship, but Kaepernick kept only once on those plays. In his first eight starts, Kaepernick kept a third of the time, including seven rushes for 99 yards in the Divisional Playoffs.

Flacco overthrows hurt Smith's deep impact

November, 14, 2012
The Ravens used the 58th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft to select speedster Torrey Smith from Maryland, hoping he would provide a vertical threat for Joe Flacco. In 2011, Smith was targeted once over his first two games, a 22-yard Flacco overthrow against the Steelers in the season opener.

While the Flacco overthrow remains a theme, it became clear against the St. Louis Rams in Smith's third game why he had warranted a second-round pick.

Smith caught five passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns against the Rams, and four of his eight targets were thrown at least 26 yards downfield. Smith would be targeted at least five times in 11 of Baltimore’s last 13 games, and he developed into Flacco’s favorite deep target.

It’s no secret how the Ravens use Smith.

His career average target distance is 18.6 yards downfield, more than a yard deeper than any other qualified receiver. No receiver has been targeted on more throws deeper than 20 yards downfield than Smith in the last two seasons, and Smith’s six touchdowns on deep throws is tied for fifth in the league.

Targeting Smith downfield has been a focus for Flacco since that breakout game in Smith’s rookie season, and Smith has proved reliable. Of his league-high 56 deep targets, Smith has dropped one.

But the Flacco-to-Smith connection hasn’t exactly progressed.

In Smith’s rookie season, Flacco completed nearly 54 percent of his passes targeting Smith, which ranked 67th out of 81 qualified wide receivers. While a lack of efficiency was expected given Smith’s role as a deep threat (average target was 18.2 yards downfield, second-most in NFL), 36 qualified receivers had a better drop percentage than Smith’s 3.2 percent.

This season, Smith has been targeted at about the same rate (7.0 targets per game compared to 6.2 targets last year), but the completion percentage is down (49.2 percent, fifth worst out of 79 qualified wide receivers). And Smith has dropped as many passes (three) as last year.

The silver lining?

He’s caught just as many touchdowns (seven) as last year and his 9.0 targets per touchdown is sixth in the league.

Smith’s big-play production out of the gates could be more impressive if not for Flacco.

Flacco has 52 overthrown passes deeper than 20 yards downfield in the past two seasons, 15 more than the next-closest quarterback (Cam Newton). In that span, Smith has been overthrown 26 times, seven more than the next-closest receiver (Larry Fitzgerald).

Flacco’s efficiency problems in Smith’s first season could be attributed to adjusting to a new and unfamiliar weapon.

Smith was clocked at 4.43 seconds at the combine before the 2011 Draft, and Flacco’s three most-targeted wide receivers in 2010 were Derrick Mason, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Anquan Boldin - none of whom had Smith’s speed.

But this year, Flacco has overthrown Smith on 27 percent of his total targets, with only the Blaine Gabbert-to-Justin Blackmon duo yielding a higher overthrow percentage.

NFC West in search of O-Line, WR help

April, 19, 2012
Stats & Information gets you ready for the NFL Draft at the end of the month with a look at the biggest need for each team. Today, we take a look at the NFC West.

Arizona Cardinals
Needs: Offensive line, wide receiver

The Cardinals used only five different offensive line combinations last season, yet allowed a league-high 32 sacks facing four or fewer pass rushers.

Larry Fitzgerald had 28 catches on throws traveling at least 15 air yards, while no other Cardinal receiver had more than six.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

St. Louis Rams
Needs: Offensive line, defensive tackle, defensive back, quarterback, wide receiver

The St. Louis Rams need to fill multiple positions under first-year head coach Jeff Fisher.

The Rams’ most used offensive line unit played 26 percent of plays together last season (29th in the NFL), and no team allowed more than the Rams’ 55 sacks.

Staying on the line, but this time defensively, the Rams allowed a league-worst 5.7 yards per rush and 3.2 yards before contact up the middle last season. In the backfield, St. Louis cornerbacks only intercepted one pass on throws outside the numbers in 2011.

Rams’ receivers combined for only 39 receptions on throws traveling at least 15 yards downfield last season (27th in NFL), and Brandon Lloyd (who signed a free agent deal with the New England Patriots) led the team with 13.

Getting those receivers the ball is quarterback Sam Bradford, who is the only player to finish in the bottom five in Total QBR rankings each of the last two seasons.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Seattle Seahawks
Needs: Tight end, defensive line

The Seahawks had 12 of their 33 sacks last season with four or fewer pass rushers, despite sending such pressure 70 percent of the time.

Chris Clemons led the team with 6.5 sacks when Seattle sent four or fewer rushers, but no other defensive lineman contributed more than one.

Seahawks’ tight ends accumulated 453 receiving yards, fourth-fewest in the league, including only six receptions on throws at least 15 yards downfield.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

San Francisco 49ers
Needs: Wide receiver, running back

The 49ers added Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, but lost Josh Morgan to free agency.

Vernon Davis caught 60 percent of his targets on throws traveling at least 15 air yards, but other San Francisco receivers hauled in 41 percent of their targets and accounted for just half of Alex Smith's touchdowns on throws of that distance.

The 49ers were one of eight teams without a receiving touchdown by a running back last season, and led the league in drops despite having the second-fewest targets.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech

AP Photo/David ZalubowskiBrandon Marshall (left) and Jay Cutler both were drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2006.
Only three players have had at least 1,000 yards receiving each of the last five seasons: Larry Fitzgerald, Roddy White and Brandon Marshall.

For Marshall, his first two 1,000-yard seasons came when he was paired with QB Jay Cutler with the Denver Broncos. From 2007-08, Marshall had 206 receptions (only Wes Welker had more) and his 2,590 yards ranked third behind Fitzgerald and Reggie Wayne.

In 2008, Cutler targeted Marshall a league-high 179 times, 33 more than any other QB-receiver combination. That’s the most times a QB has targeted a player in a single season in the last four years.

Marshall and Cutler have been reunited with the Chicago Bears, a team that hasn't had a 1,000-yard receiver since Marty Booker in 2002.

In fact, since the 1970 merger, the Bears have had a total of seven 1,000-yard seasons posted by receivers. (Booker and Curtis Conway are tied for the most with two.)

In his three seasons in Chicago, Cutler's leader in receptions among wide receivers is Johnny Knox with 133, which ranks 43rd in the NFL among wide receivers. (The Bears leader in receptions the last three seasons is running back Matt Forte with 160.)

However, one area that Knox has proven to be Marshall's equal is on deep routes. On throws over 20 yards, Marshall has been targeted 68 times, with 24 receptions (and three drops) and four touchdowns over the last three seasons. (In 2008 with Cutler, Marshall was targeted 25 times on throws more than 20 yards downfield, with seven receptions, 235 yards and one TD.)

Knox has been targeted 18 fewer times than Marshall on throws over 20 yards, and still has 22 receptions (and only one drop) and six touchdowns.

One flaw in Marshall's game is drops. Since 2008, his 26 on-target drops are third most in the NFL behind Dwayne Bowe (37) and White (31).

Marshall also has caught only 12 of his 64 end zone targets the last four seasons. That’s the second-worst rate in the NFL behind Braylon Edwards. (Marshall caught five of 15 attempts from Cutler in 2008.)

Kyle Terada/US PresswireBrandon Marshall caught four touchdowns to lead the AFC to a Pro Bowl win
1. Brandon Marshall Sets Touchdown Record
Marshall caught four touchdown passes. The touchdown catches came one per quarter and were thrown by three different quarterbacks (Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers and two from Andy Dalton).

The four touchdown catches are the most by a player, rushing or receiving, in one game. Larry Fitzgerald caught three Touchdown passes in Sunday's game. Both he and Marshall are two of just six players to score three-or-more touchdowns in a single Pro Bowl.

It also marks the second time that two players have scored three-or-more touchdowns in the same Pro Bowl. Jimmy Smith and Mike Alstott each had three touchdowns in 2000.

2. The Defenses Rested
The two teams combined to score an even 100 points in the AFC's 59-41 win. The only Pro Bowl where more points were scored was in the 2004 game when the teams combined for 107 points.

The nine highest scoring Pro Bowls have all been since 2000.

Each of the six quarterbacks to play threw two touchdowns (Roethlisberger, Rivers, Dalton, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees).

The teams also combined for a Pro bowl record 1,142 yards.

3. Can I Kick It? No, You Can’t
Shane Lechler was selected to his seventh career Pro Bowl. He had an uneventful Sunday though as the AFC never punted.
In a rematch of last season's NFC championship game the Green Bay Packers defeated the Chicago Bears and improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2007.

Aaron Rodgers threw for 297 yards and 3 touchdowns, all three of which went to tight end Jermichael Finley. Finley is the only Packers player to have three receiving touchdowns in a game against the Bears since 1960.

He's the first Packers player with three receiving touchdowns against any team since Greg Jennings against the Vikings last season, and just third to do so in the last 10 seasons.

The Bears vaunted defensive line struggled Sunday against the Packers, as Chicago was unable to get pressure on Rodgers when sending four or fewer pass rushers.

Rodgers threw all three of his touchdowns Sunday when the Bears brought four or fewer pass rushers. He threw shorter in those situations compared to last season and only attempted two of his 27 attempts facing standard pressure while under duress.

Rodgers' counterpart Jay Cutler threw two touchdown passes, but also had two interceptions, his first game with multiple interceptions this season.

Most of his struggles came when he threw deep. Cutler was just 2-of-8 with 2 interceptions when throwing at least 15 yards downfield Sunday. It's the sixth straight game Cutler has thrown an interception of that throw length against the Packers, including the 2010 NFC Championship game.

Since joining the Bears, Jay Cutler has now thrown 9 interceptions against the Packers on throws of 15 yards or more, including the playoffs. That's the most such picks by any player during that time period against a single opponent.

Elsewhere around the NFL:

• Baltimore Ravens rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith had his first three career TD receptions come on his first three career NFL receptions. Smith scored all three of his touchdowns in the first quarter, the first rookie in NFL history with three touchdowns in the first quarter of a game according to Elias.

• The Arizona Cardinals suffered a loss against the Seattle Seahawks, but there was still some reason for Larry Fitzgerald to smile. Fitzgerald brought in his 67th career touchdown reception, moving him into first place all-time in the franchises history for touchdown receptions.

• Darren McFadden had a career-high 171 rushing yards in the Oakland Raiders win over the New York Jets. McFadden became just the third player to rush for over 100 yards against the Jets since Rex Ryan took over as head coach. His 171 rushing yards are the most any player has had against the Jets during that span.