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Running the Numbers: Why Cowboys Kept Miles Austin

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At DallasCowboys.com, I broke down why the Cowboys kept Miles Austin and what we can expect from Austin in 2013.

I think Austin can and should have played better in 2012, and it’s frustrating to see a player with such apparent gifts fail to dominate as his potential suggests he could. But it isn’t as if Austin dramatically underperformed last season. In my 2012 preseason projection for Austin, I wrote:

“A big part of Austin’s overall production will of course be how many opportunities he receives to make plays. With greater focus on the running game and a probable increase in throws toDez Bryant, how will Austin’s targets be affected? Austin posted a career high in targets in 2009, totaling 8.6 per game. That number decreased to 7.2 in each of the last two seasons. Even with the other playmakers in Big D, I think you’ll see that number remain steady in 2012.

But just how many of those targets will Austin haul in? His career catch rate is 62.5 percent, but that’s inflated a bit from Austin’s historic 2009 season in which he caught 66.7 percent of passes thrown his way. In each of the other three seasons he has been targeted, Austin’s catch rate has been almost exactly 60.0 percent.

And finally, we get to touchdowns. Over his career, Austin has converted 13.4 percent of his receptions into touchdowns. I think that number is going to drop just a bit this year with a superior short-yardage game and a greater number of red zone targets for Bryant. Let’s call it 10.0 percent.

Extrapolating all of those numbers over 16 games, we get 69 receptions for 1,035 yards and seven scores.”

Although expectations for Austin have always been through the roof, the numbers suggested Austin was set for only a moderately-effective 2012 campaign. Below are my projected numbers for Austin prior to the season, with his actual results in parentheses.

Targets: 115 (118)
Catch Rate: 60.0 percent (57.4 percent)
Receptions: 69 (66)
Yards: 1,035 (943)
Yards-Per-Target: 9.0 (8.0)
Touchdowns: 7 (6)

See it all at the team site.

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