CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 27: Greg Little #15 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates a touchdown during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on November 27, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Browns 23-20. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
"The Sunday Five" is a loosely-titled piece where I talk about five NFL- or Browns-related topics related to this past week. In today's edition, we take a look at some statistics related to the season that rookie wide receiver Greg Little has had so far, and the Browns' continued misfortune on opening coin tosses.
In the NFL's statistics database I am using, they have a section that lists the top 100 receivers (including tight ends) based on the number of receptions they have notched this season. There are three members on the Browns' roster in the top 100: Little, Benjamin Watson, and Joshua Cribbs. None of those three players are the team's original starting receivers. The site doesn't list drops, but it lists the catch rate for a receiver (calculated by the number of receptions divided by the number of times targeted). Little's catch rate is 53.3%, which ranks 78/100.
Side note: a general game thread will be posted at noon EST, and the Browns game thread will go live at 3:00 PM EST.
Here is why Little's low catch rate shouldn't be a big concern though: Little is McCoy's top target, and there are many other teams with quality receivers who have receivers with low catch rates. That includes Roddy White, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Dwayne Bowe, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Vincent Jackson, DeSean Jackson, Santonio Holmes, and others. Watson and Cribbs practically have the same catch rate as Little too. Little just stands out more because he has more targets than the other two do.
Here is what I don't like about Little so far. First, you have the drops, which are an obvious concern. Second, you want your receiver to specialize in something, whether it be touchdown receptions, yards per catch, yards after catch, or catch rate. Most of the receivers on the list above specialize in at least one category, but Little is ranked near the bottom of the league in almost all of the categories. He is 83/100 in yards after the catch, 76/100 in average yards per reception, and 80/100 in touchdown receptions. Cribbs specializes in yards after the catch (19/100) and to an extent, touchdown receptions (29/100). Surprisingly, even Watson has good numbers in yards after the catch (31/100). By my quick count, Watson ranks third among tight ends in that category.
While Jordan Norwood has played in quite a few games this season, he didn't really start getting involved in the offense at important junctures until the past two weeks. That is a terribly small sample size, but if I want to look at that, he is averaging 24 yards per reception. Torrey Smith leads the NFL in that category with 19.77 yards per reception. Obviously, Norwood wouldn't keep that high of a rate over a full season. His one-game average from last week (17.3 yards per reception) is more realistic, but that still puts him in the top 10 in the NFL. Hopefully Pat Shurmur continues to utilize Norwood, because stretching the field like that helps the run game and the other receivers.
A new weekly theme is if the Browns can reach perfection. Perfection in what? Losing the coin toss. They have lost the opening coin toss in all 11 games this season. It is so statistically unlikely to lose a coin toss that many times in a row. Just think: if you kept flipping a coin, how long would you have to do that before you found a span where heads or tails came up 11 consecutive times? The New York Times has a story that specifically talks about the Browns' misfortunes on the coin toss; go on over and check it out.