The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Grading the ‘Boys: Miles Austin 2012 Grade

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My “Grading the ‘Boys” series is back. Over the next few weeks, I will grade each Cowboys player on an individual basis. At Dallas News, I started it off with Miles Austin.

With 943 yards on 118 targets, Austin posted only 7.99 yards-per-target in 2012. That’s similar to Austin’s 2011 mark, but down from 8.75 in 2010 and 10.56 in his breakout 2009 season. Austin’s 9.1 percent touchdown rate isn’t bad, but it’s still lower than his career mark of 12.3 percent.

The most concerning stat for Austin, however, is that he hauled in only 57.4 percent of his targets. With Dez Bryant drawing double-teams and Jason Witten working them middle of the field, that sort of efficiency is way too low. In comparison, Laurent Robinson caught 66.7 percent of his targets when he was the No. 2 receiver last year in Dallas.

Part of the problem is that Austin hasn’t displayed the same explosiveness after the catch as he did just a few seasons ago. At 6’2’’, 219 pounds, Austin is built like a tall running back, yet he seems to have lost a lot of the run-after-catch ability that made him so dangerous in 2009 and 2010. Take a look at Austin’s yards-after-catch per reception over the past four seasons:

  • 2009: 7.2 YAC/rec
  • 2010: 6.3 YAC/rec
  • 2011: 4.7 YAC/rec
  • 2012: 4.6 YAC/rec

Notice a trend? One potential explanation is that the Cowboys simply used Austin downfield too much. Although Austin certainly has the potential to beat defenses deep, he’s at his best when he can catch and run. The average depth of passes to Austin in 2012 was 12.35 yards. That’s actually greater than the 12.29 average depth of Dez Bryant’s targets. Bryant—whose deep looks increased substantially in the middle of the year—should probably be running deeper routes than Austin on most plays.

See the rest of the analysis and my grade for Austin at DMN.

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