Our favorite advanced stat site (with apologies to Football Outsiders and Advanced NFL Stats) Profootballfocus.com has released it's latest article looking back at 2010 wide receiver performances. Ears perk up when wide receiver drops are mentioned, as it's been something of a hot topic ever since the Terrell Owens Express rode into Dallas back in 2006. Drops by wide receivers are mostly attributed to one of two factors: bad hands or lapses in concentration. For the purposes of this metric, PFF defines drop percentage pretty simply:
... all receivers who had at least 50 catchable balls thrown their way (catchable balls determined by just adding together the number of receptions and drops).
Current number one receiver Miles Austin was always said to catch everything in practice, but his first few appearances before 2009 were sprinkled with too many drops for the limited opportunity. When Miles broke into the starting lineup in '09, the drops disappeared from his repertoire and he had an amazing drop percentage of only 3.16% in 95 catchable balls. Traded for wide receiver Roy Williams has a reputation amongst Cowboys fans for dropping his fair share of targets. It is well deserved. In 2009, Roy dropped an astronomical 9 passes against only 43 receptions for a staggering drop percentage of 17.30%. That was actually a step up from his 2008 campaign (Detroit and Dallas tenure) where he dropped 18.18% of catchable passes thrown in his direction against only 36 receptions.
So how did the receiver group fair in 2010? Follow the jump to find out.
Miles Austin has allowed the concern over his hands to resurface some. Austin's increase in drops does not appear to be related to the Tony Romo injury. Miles had five drops through the week 7 Giants game, of which Romo made it through most of the contest. His 11 total drops on 69 receptions gives him a drop percentage of 13.75%, eighth worst in the league for receivers that qualify (50 catchables). If you are a connect-the-dots type of fan, it would be easy to use Austin's regression as proof that the team just wasn't mentally prepared for the 2010 season. Hopefully that will change whenever we do see football in 2011.
No other Cowboys wide receiver qualified for the exercise, as none amassed the total of 50 catchables. However, if Dez Bryant's season had not been cut short and the raw stats projected forward, he would have qualified as a top 15 receiver here. Bryant was two short of the cutoff, catching 45 passes and dropping only three.
Number three wideout Roy Williams saw his opportunities diminish in 2010, and a small betterment of his drop percentage. Williams' went from 17.30% in 2009 to a more median 9.76% in 2010, although his catchables number was low at 41 (37 caught/4 dropped). It sure looks like the gentleman simply has bad hands.
The other two main facets of the Jason Garrett passing game are the tight end and the running back, and Dallas fans should be happy to know that both positions graded out very well. Jason Witten grabbed 94 passes while only dropping three, for a DP of 3.09%. Running back Felix Jones bested that percentage out of the backfield. The Cat only dropped one pass in 2010, hauling in 48 for an extremely low percentage of 2.04%. Thoughts of a slimmed down, sure handed Felix Jones in 2011 while paired with DeMarco Murray (a sure handed drafted RB) must have Garrett pretty excited.
For those that are wondering (or are just looking for another stat to rub in the face of competing fans), Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson rated as the worst receiver in the league in regards to dropping passes. The ballyhooed receiver dropped a jaw-flooring close to 20% of catchable throws (49 receptions, 12 drops, 19.67%).