January 03, 2018
In 2015 and 2016, one of the biggest issues for the Philadelphia Eagles' lack of success was the play of the wide receivers, specifically, their penchant for dropping catchable passes.
For some reason, as heavily as the NFL is covered from a statistical metric standpoint, there are no reliable sources for drops. By my count, in watching every incompletion on the season, the Eagles dropped 43 passes in 2016. Still, while there are no good reliable sources for drops, it was widely recognized that the Eagles led the league in that category.
In 2017, the Eagles were better at catching the football.
While drops are subjective to some degree, the following is a representation of the number of drops by each Eagles player in 2017. We'll order them by number of drops, but the column to the far right shows the total drop percentage of what we'll refer to as "reasonably catchable passes," or drops divided by (drops plus catches). To be clear, that's not total targets, which I believe are a bad measure of drop percentage, seeing as the receiver often has no chance of catching some of those targets. Got it? No? Yes? Well whatever, here's what I came up with:
|Year||Drops||Catches||Drop % of catchable passes|
The improvement from 10.2 percent to 8.6 percent, was significant, but not drastic. The biggest drop offenders in 2017, as the chart above shows, were Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor, who each had seven drops on the season.
However, the difference between those two players is that Agholor made more than his share of big plays, while Smith left a lot to be desired. A number of Smith's drops were egregious, like the one last Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys that hit him in between the 8 and the 2, and likely would have gone for a score.
Without naming Smith specifically, Doug Pederson noted his frustration with that drop in his press conference on Tuesday.
"If we catch a third-down ball we're in the end zone the other night," he said.
In case you're wondering what the Eagles' drop tally looked like in 2016, here you go:
Smith is at least better at catching the football than Dorial Green-Beckham. So he has that going for him.
The following players with at least one reception had no drops:
While the Eagles' drop rate was notably improved in 2017, it is still an area where there's room to improve significantly in 2018 and beyond.
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