Running the Numbers: Replacing Laurent Robinson
My latest post at DallasCowboys.com deals with the importance of No. 3 wide receivers. Garrett and the Cowboys lined up with three or more receivers on the field on 42% of plays in 2012, down from 46% the prior season. Those figures are in the bottom half of the NFL, but that may be a good thing:
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however. Since 2009, teams that have had a third receiver that ranked in the top 10 in yards among all such players have been slightly less successful (8.9 wins/season) than the bottom-dwellers (9.0 wins/season).
The teams that have lined up with three or more receivers the most often have also struggled. The top 10 teams in 3+ wide receiver sets since 2009 have averaged only 6.6 wins/season, compared to 8.5 wins/season for the 10 teams that have lined up in 3+ receiver sets the least.
Poor teams tend to pass the ball often because they need to overcome deficits, but that isn’t the reason for the results. By analyzing third-receiver production as a component of overall team passing success, teams that throw the ball only because they are losing won’t skew the results. After doing so, the results only get more drastic. Third receivers that have tallied over 14% of their team’s total receiving yards have seen their squads manage a measly 5.9 wins/season. Those teams that have had a less productive third receiver, one that raked in less than 10% of their team’s total receiving yards, have averaged a more impressive 9.2 wins.
You can read the entire post here.
Ultimately, I think the value of No. 3 receivers is often reflected not in their own statistics, but those of teammates. Laurent Robinson was surely an asset last season, but he’s not necessarily irreplaceable. I personally would have loved to grab Jacoby Jones, but my guess is the team’s opening day third receiver is already on the roster.