At this time three weeks ago I had Jarvis Landry penciled in for roughly an 80/800/4 TD on 110 targets line for the 2018 season. Things change quickly in the NFL and my oh my how things have changed in Cleveland. Josh Gordon has taken a sabbatical, either to avoid the bright lights of HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” undergo counseling or hunt Yetis. Whatever the reason Gordon and Cleveland are on a “break.” If Gordon is in fact purposely missing camp to avoid “Hard Knocks” it does make me question how well he’ll cope with microphones in his face for the 16 weeks come the regular season.
While Gordon is on his break, the Browns found it wise to trade away former first-round draft pick Corey Coleman for a 2020 7th round draft pick. The day after the Coleman trade Antonio Callaway (go look up his arrest record) was arrested for having weed, bullets and gun parts (huh) in his car. In case you forgot, Callaway failed his NFL Combine drug test due to a diluted sample, which means he’s already in the NFL’s drug program.
All these happenings in Cleveland have led me to a conclusion I would have found laughable in July. Jarvis Landry will lead the league in targets in 2018.
I’ve often derided Landry for being a volume dependent compiler. So far in Landry’s career, excluding his rookie season, Landry’s averaged 152 targets per season. It often seemed that Miami used Landry as their first read, as an extension of the running game and as their last resort.
I know what you’re thinking. Landry was Ryan Tannehill’s blanky and without Tannehill Landry will see his targets decrease significantly. While Landy’s targets did decrease in games started by another quarterback than Landry, it wasn’t a stark decrease. In 19 games without Tannehill under center Landry was targeted 8.62 times per game as opposed to the 9.63 targets per game when Tannehill started. Yes, Landry saw fewer targets, but not overly so.
When just looking just at the splits with and without Tannehill under center during the Adam Gase era in Miami, the difference increase is infinitesimal. The decrease is just an additional .24 targets lost per game.
While I do agree that Tannehill relied on Landry heavily, it’s not as if the rest of the Miami’s quarterbacks did not do the same. Though Tyrod Taylor has never attempted more than 436 passes in a season he’s been on run-first oriented offenses his entire career.
Additionally joining Cleveland with Todd Haley calling the plays should see more targets available than Landry is used to from his time with Adam Gase in Miami. Over the last three seasons, Gase led offenses have averaged 534 pass attempts per season. During the same three year period, Haley has called 592 pass attempts per season. If Haley coaches to his averages, that’s an additional 58 targets up for grab compared to Landry’s time in Miami.
Three seasons may seem an arbitrary number. I’m aware that I’m not including Gase’s seasons spent in Denver as the offensive coordinator. My reasoning behind this is fairly simple. Peyton Manning was the quarterback during those two Denver seasons, so Gase had as much do with the offensive play calling as my son’s pet fish Cheeto did, and he gets no credit from me for those years.
With all the offensive additions made to the Browns offense, you may not be aware that there are a significant amount of targets available. The trade of Corey Coleman left behind 58 targets from 2017. Including Coleman’s targets and the targets that belonged to Isaiah Crowell, Kenny Britt, Kasen Williams et alii. the Browns have 185 targets up for grabs from 2017. In theory, Josh Gordon could take a significant share of those targets, but I don’t believe Gordon plays most of the 2018 season. Before you get all in your feelings and challenge me to a Twitter dance-off, there’s nothing you can tell me that moves me off that position. Gordon’s troubled history is well known, and I don’t have the energy to debate his future.
Antonio Callaway is a player that many of us in the dynasty community love, but his story is starting to feel familiar. I can’t place my finger on it, but Callaway is beginning to remind me of another uber-talented wide receiver who keeps making poor life decisions. The name is on the tip of my tongue…oh well…maybe I’ll think of it later.
Duke Johnson is an excellent receiving back, but Haley had perhaps the best receiving back of all time in Pittsburgh and still found a way to feed Antonio Brown. David Njoku looks ready for a year two explosion, but Haley has never targeted a tight end more than 17.60% in his 11 seasons calling plays. Jeff Janis or Rashard Higgins…yeah, no.
Targets in and of themselves are just one piece of the puzzle. Not only should we expect more available targets for Landry we should see him targeted more in a Haley offense compared to a Gase offense.
Over the previous three seasons, Gase’s WR1 garners a 24.05% target share compared to Haley’s WR1s garnering a 28.67% target share. Looking at their total coaching careers, as displayed below courtesy of FF Statistics, the gulf is closer, 24.70% WR1 target share vs. Haley’s 26.37% WR1s target share. Whether you wish to focus on the three-year average or the totality of their coaching careers, Haley targets his WR1 more frequently using either data set.
Jarvis Landry has found himself in a position where a path to being the most targeted wide receiver in 2018 is achievable. He’s found himself tethered to a play-caller that calls more for more passes. His biggest competition for targets have either been traded, gone into seclusion or been arrested in the last three weeks. The remaining competition consists of a running back and a tight end. Even if Duke Johnson sees 106 targets (Le’Veon Bells career high) and David Njoku sees a 17% target share, Landry should still flourish.
Landry could reasonable see nearly 170 targets based on Todd Haley’s three-year averages of 592 pass attempts per season and targeting his WR1 28.67% of the time. If Landry approaches the 32.71% target share Antonio Brown received in 2015 he could approach 194 targets. The 170 target range would have been second in the league in 2017. While 194 targets would have led the league each of the previous two seasons. I may not be able to say with 100% certainty that Landry will lead the league in targets in 2018. What I can say is that it is in his range of possibilities for the 2018 season.
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