Weekly Progress Report on the Ravens Pass Catchers
The Ravens beat the Detroit Lions on Sunday in a contest where they really emphasized the deep passing game. The Lions D was swarming to defend the run and attack the Ravens run-option concepts. That left the deep part of the field open, and Ravens Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman responded by attacking those areas.
That’s reflected in the game stats:
In baseball terms, James Proche is like a pinch hitter who had only one at-bat and got a hit. Sure, he’s batting 1.000, but we know he’s not “really” a 1.000 hitter. Still, that was a great play on the sideline.
Mark Andrews’ day is more impressive. Extremely productive and efficient on 7 targets. Andrews was held in check a little bit to start the season – the Raiders directed a lot of defensive attention towards him, bracketing him at times – but he’s been money the past two games.
Sammy Watkins’ stat line doesn’t jump out at you, but it’s very solid and professional. If you caught passes for 68 yards per game, you’d finish with 1088 yards in a 16-game season. It’s a good day. Watkins has brought exactly what the Ravens were hoping for. He has been an ideal complement to this passing offense so far.
A surprise to me is Marquise Brown’s yards-per-attempt. Like other fans, I was yelling at the TV over some dropped passes. I expected Brown’s efficiency stats to be hit hard by the incompletes. But in fact, his yards-per-target for this game is almost exactly equal to the league average from last year. (Marquise 7.57, league 7.55) The plays he did hit were big enough (17.7 yards per catch) to offset the incomplete passes. That’s the whole point of throwing deep, of course: you sacrifice some completion percentage for chunk plays.
One thing I really like in this box score is the diversity in the passing game. Seven different pass catchers targeted; and Lamar used the #3 WR (Duvernay) for 3 targets. That’s a great job of spreading the ball around and taking what the defense fails to stop. Hit it where they ain’t.
By the way, if you’re statistically inclined, you may notice that the numbers in the “Targets” column above do not add up to Lamar’s total attempts on the day. The table lists 27 “targets”, but Lamar had 31 attempts in the game. The difference is, four of Lamar’s official pass attempts were not targets: the spike after Watkins big 4th-down conversion, and three throwaways. Those throws don’t affect the receivers numbers.
(You could argue that maybe they shouldn’t affect the quarterback’s numbers either, but that’s not how the NFL does it.)
Here are the full season statistics for the Ravens pass catchers:
Check out those yards-per-target values for the Big Three, Andrews, Brown and Watkins. Obviously it’s still early in the season, but being around 10 yards-per with your three highest-volume guys is excellent.
Another interesting thing is that in each of the three games so far, a different member of the Big Three has stepped up to lead the team:
• Watkins had 96 yds in game 1 at over 12 per target
• Marquise had 113 in game 2 at over 11 per target
• Andrews had 109 in game 3 at over 15 per target
All three are on pace for thousand yard seasons, even in a 16-game season:
• Marquise: 1250 yards
• Watkins: 1100 yards
• Andrews: 990 yards
Having three productive pass catchers that Lamar will use, creates real problems for defenses. And that’s on top of dealing with the challenge of Greg Roman’s running game.
I think it’s been obscured by how close and desperately tight the games have been, but this Ravens passing game is starting to look like the passing game that Ravens fans have always wished for.