It is time for another edition of "statistically speaking." It is easy to look at the receivers on the Browns with the highest number of receptions this season and believe they were a focal point of the offense. Today, we're going to take a look at another statistic: the number of times a receiver was targeted, and then what percentage of those targets were caught by the receiver.
If you don't know what a target is, here is an example: if Colt McCoy throws to Ben Watson on three straight plays but two of the balls sailed over his head and incomplete (with the other being caught), you would say he was targeted three times. A low percentage does not necessarily guarantee that a receiver was bad, but it could reflect the lack of chemistry between a quarterback and receiver or a receiver's lack of ability to get open.
In this list, I only included receivers with a minimum of nine targets on the season. I decided on this minimum because it was the right amount to not include players such as Mike Bell, Jerome Harrison, or Seneca Wallace. Here we go:
Overall, the results aren't too surprising. Here is a text-description of the results above:
- It is no surprise to see Peyton Hillis at the top of the list, as he was a nice security blanket for all three quarterbacks this season. Running backs are expected to have a pretty high percentage though since the throws are usually safe or dumpoff routes. Hillis' average is pretty much on par with other good receiving backs (Maurice Jones-Drew, Ray Rice, and Adrian Peterson were a little lower; LeSean McCoy was at an impressive 86.66% rate on 90 targets).
- No surprise to see Benjamin Watson listed second on the list. His percentage was best in the AFC North among starting tight ends; Todd Heap, Heath Miller, and Jermaine Gresham were all the same around 62.5%.
- I expected Evan Moore's percentage to be third best on the team, but he was a tad behind Chansi Stuckey. I guess it makes sense, but unfortunately Stuckey's higher percentage of catches did not go for as many first down or memorable plays like Moore. This is a case where the percentage doesn't necessarily mean one receiver is more of a threat than the other.
Mohamed Massaquoi's percentage, which is a little bit below 50%, is painful to look at, especially when you consider he was the third most targeted receiver on the team. His rate has to be so low because many times when the Browns tried to stretch the field with Massaquoi down the field, he would have trouble adjusting to or fighting for the football. If Massaquoi does not improve his ability to get open or makes adjustments down the field next season, then Pat Shurmur should focus on getting him the ball on quick slants where he can try to do damage after the catch.
- At the bottom of the list were Robert Royal and Lawrence Vickers. I'm not surprised about Royal, but I would really like to have seen a higher percentage for Vickers. Just like Hillis was open on a lot of plays, I think we could have hit Vickers right off the line after a playfake for some positive yardage. Our passes to Vickers seemed to involve passes where he was stationary in the flat and had to think about catching the ball before he could even get going.
- As for the other two receivers on the team (Brian Robiskie and Joshua Cribbs), I wanted to compare their percentages to other AFC North receivers. In Cincinnati, Terrell Owens' and Chad Ochocinco's percentages were both lower. In Pittsburgh, Mike Wallace's and Hines Ward's percentages were both a tad higher, but lower than Stuckey's. In Baltimore, T.J. Houshmandzadeh's and Anquan Boldin's percentages were lower, while Derrick Mason's was higher but lower than Stuckey's.
- It isn't surprising to see that three of our wide receivers have better percentages than other receivers in our division. So many of our throws were safe and did not pick up first downs to help move the chains, something that wasn't the case for other teams in the division. The biggest thing I take out of the percentages, combined with what I saw during the games this season, is this: Hillis and Watson were money, and way too many plays were wasted on Massaquoi -- we didn't know how to use him effectively.
- Disclaimer: I am fully aware that the percentages fail to account for many important factors for receivers. This article is simply meant to isolate the statistic to highlight certain extremes, such as Hillis (good) and Massaquoi (bad).